"Don't you love how relaxed this is? It's like you're in our living room."
Though Chelsea Handler was hosting Netflix's For Your Consideration screening of "Orange is the New Black," Laverne Cox made a case for her own talk show by charmingly moving along a rather raucous group discussion. The hour-long Q&A featured Cox and co-stars Taylor Schilling, Uzo Aduba, Kate Mulgrew, Natasha Lyonne, Lea Delaria and Jason Biggs, all speaking to members of the Television Academy, which hosts the upcoming Emmys celebration in less than three weeks.
"Orange is the New Black" is a strong contender for Outstanding Comedy Series, and dominated the Guest Actress nominees with three of the six nods. It also scored nods for Schilling in the Lead Actress category and Mulgrew as a Supporting Actress. Playing the odds a bit, Netflix pushed Mulgrew at the screening, showing her backstory in the first season's second episode, "Tit Punch" ("OITNB" is only eligible for consideration for its first season, though the publicity for its second season -- which arrived five days after Emmy eligibility ended -- certainly helped).
"I only got two paged," Mulgrew said when asked about her auditioning process. "But I loved those two pages. While I was doing the audition, I felt a kismet. I mean, it was like love. It was like sex. It just felt great."
Mulgrew may have the best shot at a high profile Emmys win. Schilling is likely to be outgunned by the comedy veterans in her category, Amy Poehler ("Parks and Recreation") and Julia Louis-Dreyfus ("Veep"). Cox and Aduba both have a good shot at Guest Actress, but those awards are given out at the Creative Arts Emmys on August 16th (as opposed to the nationally televised Primetime Emmys on August 25th). Netflix wisely tried to make a splash with its strongest contender Monday night.
"She will just never be invited to the party," Mulgrew said about her character, Red. "There's a deep strain of vulnerability in there, but she has worked past that into this strength. Into this strategic way of thinking. If she can't be a member of the club, she'll make her own club. To find that ultimate vulnerability and go from there, is [my] great joy as an actor."
Mulgrew has been working in television for most of her life, including "Star Trek: Voyager," "Ryan's Hope," "Mrs. Columbo," and shorter stints on "Batman: The Animated Series" and "Cheers." When asked about how her new role fits into her history with the medium, Mulgrew said, "It fits just fine. It was time. I had to be this age. I'm 59. I've been acting for 40 years. You could argue I had a couple of iconic roles. Something about Red has set me free. I think I've had to of had this life experience. I've had to have acted as long as I have. It's just so liberating and transformative for me, you know?" So really, I'm in heaven."
The panel also featured a question from creator Jenji Kohan's mother, who (jokingly) wanted to know if her career was in some way credited to her genes. Cast members talked over themselves (and mic problems) while light heartedly taking some statements of praise from an enthusiastic crowd.
Notably absent was any discussion of Handler's Netflix deal. The "Chelsea Lately" host signed on to helm a new talk show on the subscription streaming network, but was fairly quiet throughout the Q&A, ceding any time she may have had to the cast on display.
Kohan refused to give any details on Season 3 other than to say the writers are working on it, and casually mentioning an upcoming discussion with Schilling regarding a tough scene (this came up after Schilling said they "had a lot of discussions every time I took my clothes off.").
The Emmys air on Monday, August 25 at 8pm (5pm PT). Check out our predictions page for more on the ongoing races.