It’s hard to believe but two years ago Taylor Schilling wasn’t a household name, despite roles in Ben Affleck’s Oscar winner “Argo,” the Zac Efron romance “The Lucky One,” and a lead role in “Atlas Shrugged: Part 1.” That all changed in 2013 when Netflix debuted their mostly female-led prison dramedy “Orange is the New Black,” which quickly went on to become a cultural phenomenon. Schilling has since gone on to net an Emmy nomination and two Golden Globe nominations for her lead work on the show, and, with the show’s success, worldwide fame.
June is a big month for the actress: Late last week Netflix dropped the third season of “Orange is the New Black,” and this Friday sees the release of Patrick Brice’s sexy comedy “The Overnight,” in which Schilling co-stars with Adam Scott as a couple whose “playdate” with another set of new parents turns raunchy when the kids are put to bed. The film, from writer-director Patrick Brice (“Creep”), world premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival.
Indiewire caught up with Schilling in April, during the Tribeca Film Festival, where “The Overnight” screened.
You didn’t have to wait long to find success after opting out of graduate program at NYU. Leaving school seems to have been a great career move for you.
It was a pretty extraordinary thing to get jobs out of school, and funny to hear the way sometimes people couch it. Like, “You found success late in life.” It’s all through the lens that you view it through. I always felt so fortunate that I was able to pay my rent acting so soon out of school. I feel hugely grateful for that. It takes a lot of really dogged determination, and it’s always a balance. How much are you determined and working in your career, and how much time is going towards a personal life, and where the balance it. While it is luck, it also requires a great deal of focus, sometimes at the expense of other things.
Both “The Overnight” and “Orange” are a long way from “Atlas Shrugged: Part 1,” one of the first projects you bagged.
Yeah, thank god —
— and both find you playing strong female characters. You’ve had good luck in that respect. Do you still find that strong roles for women are lacking in the industry?
Well, I think there is very much a trend, and it’s oftentimes easier. There are a few stock roles — it’s like a girlfriend or a mom or a best friend — and then sometimes I think there are more complicated leading roles. It takes time, I think, to sift through things, and also there’s something very mysterious about a career, and almost magical about the way things line up. And I feel really fortunate that Piper’s turned out the way that she has, and also there’s so many facets of this character Emily to explore. I don’t know, finding dynamic characters is tricky, and I do think that both of these women have more going on than just in relationship to a man or in relationship to a child, which is exciting. They have an inner journey happening.
Since you began on “Orange,” you’ve only completed two features. Is it difficult to find the time for other projects?
It’s tricky. You know, this is the movie that I did during my first hiatus, so last year. Then this hiatus I ended up doing a play, which was a four month obligation, but the leftover time was pretty much enough time for me to get my other press obligations for this and for the show. It is so valuable to me and so important to be finding other projects where I feel like I can express myself, and I’m looking forward to it going forward. It was really important for me to be onstage, that felt very vital. It felt like it had been a long time, so it was really important that this break was used for that. If I’m lucky enough to keep making movies with people that I’m excited to collaborate with and are interested in working with me — I mean, I always feel blown away when that happens, but it’s really a very important thing for me to keep finding new projects.
Both “The Overnight” and “Orange” are very open with their approach to sexuality and the blurring of lines. Do you see any overlap in how both projects tackle taboos?
Well, I certainly think there are those parallels. It’s funny, because I don’t really see this movie as a sex comedy. I don’t really even know what that means. I was really interested in how the humor mixed with the real authenticity and specificity of relationships, and the sex adventures were kind of tangential to what the point was of Emily and Alex starting to get to know themselves better as individuals and then starting to appreciate themselves more as a couple. These events are happening that are getting them closer to the truth of who they are, and I really responded to that. I love the idea that these two people really loved each other, and really wanted to make it work, but it was tricky. It was hard. There were things that they had been brushing under the rug, and now they’re starting to look at what’s really going on.
What was it like to explore that with someone like Adam [Scott]? You two have such great chemistry. I know you had zero time to shoot this, so you probably didn’t have a lot of prep time, if at all.
I’m so blown away by Adam. He’s so funny and so kind and so smart, and he just has this real confidence about him, and kindness. I felt so at ease, and I just enjoyed him so much that it unfolded into a really fun working relationship and friendship. It’s kind of nice when you can lean back into someone and just feel like, “Okay. This person’s doing their end and they believe in me and I believe in them,” and then it takes on a life of its own, the dynamic. That cradle of safety and trusting each other. I really credit him for spearheading the charge of creating that on set. And for me, he really went all out to make me feel so comfortable.
Now even though you don’t really view the film as a “sex comedy,” the film does have some pretty wild sequences.
What was the most wild to shoot?
Well I think the dancing penis scene was crazy and pretty amazing. Those prosthetics were an event in and of themselves. It was so exciting when they arrived on set, it was like “The penises are here! The penises are here!” I was so excited to see them, see what they looked like. And then they put them on and the guys, they were so strangely cavalier as soon as the prosthetics were on. They all felt like they were in bathing suits, so they were just like hanging out. It was strange for everyone else.
You never tried them on?
No, I had too much time in hair and makeup.
Oh jeez louise, that would have been a whole other film.