Orange Is The New Black is heading into its final season, which will include a special episode directed by star Natasha Lyonne. The actress, who also stars in the upcoming Netflix series Russian Doll, dropped some hints about the episode in a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter.
In October, Netflix announced that OITNB's seventh season will be its last. The series began in 2013 and helped establish Netflix as a serious player in original content, along with the just-ended House of Cards. It was created by Jenji Kohan and is based on Piper Kerman's 2010 memoir. Lyonne has played Nicky Nichols since the first season and was nominated for the Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series Emmy in 2014.
"The idea that Jenji let me direct an episode of her show means everything to me. It was very meaningful to get to end that journey that way," Lyonne told The Hollywood Reporter this week.
Lyonne said her episode includes a scene with Danielle Brooks as Tasha "Taystee" Jefferson that "just broke me in half."
"Danielle is so incredible as an actor and because we’re so close as friends, sitting behind the monitor, it really hits you like a ton of bricks," Lyonne said. "At its core, OITNB is incredible writing and incredible actors. It’s such a unique show and a sweeping achievement for Jenji."
The actress added, "It breaks my heart and it’s like this thing of beauty that gives life meaning. I have no children and no parents. I sort of unintentionally am really just a life of the arts. So for me, the fact that my love for these people is so real means everything to me."
The new season will pick up where Season 6 ended. In the finale, Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling) was surprisingly released early from Litchfield, meaning that Season 7 will focus on Piper's post-prison life. The series will also follow the lives of the women still imprisoned. Lyonne assured fans that Nicky still has a "presence" in the final season.
"What’s been really wild to explore this year, and feels like a fitting way to get to play Nicky in the end, is that she’s really grown up," she told THR. "The incredible thing about getting to make a show for seven years is that the journeys are wired into the fabric, so we embody them with the weight and experience of that."
There are still two more episodes of OITNB left to film, and Netflix still has not announced a release date yet.
While OITNB fans wait for the new season, they can check out Lyonne's Russian Doll on Feb. 1. Lyonne created the series with Amy Poehler and it has an all-women writing and directing team. The series stars Lyonne as Nadia, a woman who dies during a one-night party in New York, only to suddenly reawaken during the party.
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