Orange Is the New Black's Linda Ferguson may be a villain in a lot of fans' eyes, and the actress behind the controversial character, Beth Dover, agrees. The corporate employee was first introduced in Season 4 and sparked a romantic relationship with Joe Caputo (Nick Sandow), while ignoring some of the injustices done to the inmates at Litchfield Penitentiary.
In Season 5, Linda was caught in the midst of the riot and caught a glance at life inside the prison system. After doing what it took to survive and making it back to the outside, Linda went right back to her corporate job with NCC and even took on a larger role as vice president of PolyCon Corrections.
At the end of the latest season, it was Linda who dropped the massive plot twist on viewers that the company would be building detention centers for undocumented immigrants, sending some beloved characters into an even grimmer side of the justice system.
Speaking with PopCulture.com, Dover reflected on playing the role of Linda and how receiving hate mail from fans made her realize she was doing her job right.
"It's an honor, honestly, to be able to play a villain because villains exist in the world, and we need to see that sometimes they come in forms that don't look menacing," the actress told PopCulture.com in a phone interview June 28. "They come in her power suit and heels, and whatever. The villains don't always look like comic book villains. They're just regular people."
"I do get some hate mail, but I think they're confused about the reality of who I actually am as opposed to my character, which I totally get," she added of passionate responses from fans in the past. "It means I'm doing a good job, so, hey, I'll take it."
Dover admitted she was not aware of the magnitude of Linda's role when she first signed on to join the cast of the beloved Netflix dramedy. At first playing her as a "socially tone deaf and sort of annoying" character, she said she has enjoyed growing alongside her dubious character.
"[Linda's] a flawed person who, I'm sure, has her own traumas from whatever, and she makes decisions based on that, as we all do," Dover said. "I think at her core, she is a survivor, and she will do what it takes to get ahead."
"I really thought after Season 5 that Linda would see the horrible prison conditions and really change her tune when it came to all that, and really try to be an advocate for change in the prison system, but that didn't happen," she recalled.
Looking ahead to the final season, Dover kept it vague as for what Linda might do next, especially when it comes to the immigration storyline. But could her character finally change? "There's always hope for redemption," she said.
To mark the end of the beloved series, Dover said she got to keep a few of Linda's best outfits from her time on the show.
"I got to take a couple of cool dresses, and a pair of shoes," she shared. "I have my final call sheet that I took, and I think I'm going to frame it. I'm going to have a little Orange area in my office."
"I'm super grateful to be on the show, and I'm excited for the fans to get to see it. I think they're going to love [the final season], Dover added. "I don't think they're going to be disappointed."
Orange Is the New Black premieres Friday, July 26 on Netflix.