Red (Kate Mulgrew) and Gloria (Selenis Leyva) Answer Your OITNB Questions
Members of the BuzzFeed Community were asked to send in their questions to Red and Gloria. It got interesting.
1. Both Gloria and Red seem very matriarchal. How do they cope being away from their families, especially their children, and do you think that’s why they form such strong bonds with the younger women in Litchfield? (lizzier40f8c20c0)
Selenis Leyva (Gloria): Absolutely. I know that’s what makes Gloria find a way to survive. Her survival is caring, is nurturing. She doesn’t have the ability to do that with her son. She takes it upon herself to become the mother of the Latinas. She does it fiercely. She’s very passionate about that.
Kate Mulgrew (Red): It’s traumatic, you know, the loss or a removal of a child. A normal woman would probably fall apart, subjected to this. We not only accept it, we seem to be able to transcend it. Red does. But that agony has to go somewhere; it’s acute, the pain. I think it goes into the kitchen, it goes into Nicky, it goes into Gina, Norma.
2. Red has been in prison for over a decade, and last season she mentioned she had two years left on her sentence. What difficulties do you think she would face leaving prison after so long and how would she feel about leaving the comfort of her prison family? (lizzier40f8c20c0)
KM: Terrible difficulties – insurmountable perhaps. I’d say it’s been closer to 15 years since I have been in prison. This has become my world. I’ve not only adjusted to it but I’ve raised it to my level of sustainability. I’ve learnt in the last couple of years that my husband and my sons have betrayed me; I no longer have the café, the deli, it's gone. So what is there to go to? Not only does that not exist but evidently they’re now lying to me. There’s a lot at stake.
3. What was a scene for each of you that was really hard to keep a straight face in, a scene that you had to keep retaking? (rosannafioraranciof)
SL: We’re professionals.
KM: I have to tell you, I’m never in a blooper reel. It’s never happened.
SL: I’ve had one blooper moment because of a prop that had to be thrown to me and I had to catch it, and I couldn’t catch it. I was like, "I don’t catch things, guys."
4. Who’s a better prison chef? (Sclayton2)
SL: We each would say that. In real life?
BuzzFeed: I think this person means within prison.
SL: Well in prison she says Red, I say Gloria.
KM: That’s right. We know it’s Red. Next question.
SL: Her food tastes better. It’s spicier. Everyone is very happy.
KM: Chicken kiev.
5. How does your onscreen relationship with each other differentiate from your relationship in real life? Are there any similarities? (hannahherbold1999)
SL: It’s more admiring each other. I know that Gloria respects, has admiration for what [Red] does and how she does it – she's watching and is like, "Oh that is interesting, look at you, you evil Russian." You know what I mean?
KM: We’ve been in the game a long time – I a bit longer than Selenis as I’m older. It’s a professional regard. We also share an affinity, I don’t know if that’s just one of those gifts. I like her. I like her sensibility. I like her way. All of that works.
6. Is there any character you wish your character shared more scenes with? (Cyndy Lopez, Facebook)
SL: I would love more scenes with Nick Sandow, Caputo. He’s a great character. If I could also have a bit more Sam Healy [Michael Harney] in my life that would be fantastic. I love the men in our show. I wish I could play more with them, I really do, as they’re such wonderful actors and wonderful men. They’re great people.
KM: I’d love to have a scene, I yet to have a scene with any of the African-American actresses. Not one. Not one! ... I would like to have a one-on-one. You don’t have them with them either, do you?
SL: I don't.
KM: Because it’s very tribal. It’s how it is.
BuzzFeed: And that’s how it is for the next series.
KM: Increasingly so, I should think.
6. If Red was captain of a starship, which OITNB characters would be her first officer, tactical officer, engineering chief, and random ensign who never gets promoted, and why? (Sunil Mistry, Facebook)
KM: It’s very difficult. I would get myself into some very hot water.
BuzzFeed: I completely understand.
KM: Good first officer material here though [points at Leyva]. She’d be good on the bridge.
BuzzFeed: Good. That’s very diplomatic to say that.
KM: I’d have to take my girls with me. Frida, tactical, absolutely, or opps.
7. Do you think Gloria feels any semblance of guilt over Sophia’s attack? (NoahNotNoah)
SL: Absolutely. You see it right away. You see it as it is happening. You see it. I’m glad. I’m glad that Jenji gave that human touch to Gloria. It’s not about her being attacked because she’s transgender in Gloria’s eyes; it’s about ‘You took my son away from me. This was my only way to see my son and you decided to take him away."
So she’s angry. This has nothing to do with an act of hatred because of who Sophia is. It’s two others. Fighting and surviving.
8. Did you bring some of your own characteristics to your character? (Naomi Shamir, email)
KM: Of course. Why do you think we were cast?!!
SL: Any actor does.
KM: Television is pretty unforgiving. The camera likes the real thing. You have to have some of that stuff going in.
9. The scene with Nicky and the drugs in the bathroom. Was that hard to prepare for, when you knew that was going to happen? (Minnie2392)
KM: No. I’ve lived in a long life. I know all about that kind of stuff – certainly about motherhood and what it takes to get somebody through something.
10. Many people were asking about whether Nicky is coming back.
KM: What are we supposed to answer here?
SL: [Deadpan facial expression] Wait and see June 17. It’s right around the corner. All 13 episodes on Netflix. Will she be there or not be there?
KM: No spoilers! [laughs]
SL: The men in suits are going to start dropping through the roof.
11. You both play cooks in the show who make rather personal or traditional foods. What’s the favourite meal someone has ever cooked for you? (Catinthedark)
KM: In my entire life?! What are these questions?!
KM: I would say my favourite meal was at my mother’s house, although god knows what it was. It probably was a roast chicken.
SL: My father makes the best paella. I go places and I go with him and we order paella and he’s like, "This is not a paella, this is bullshit," because he knows how to cook. He is a cook. Paella from my father. Hands down.
KM: Terrific. With all the shellfish?
KM: Does he put lobster in there?
SL: He puts in everything.
KM: Love a good paella.
BuzzFeed: It is around lunchtime.
KM and SL: Hahaha.
12. Is the chicken going to come back? (Charlotte Badiall, Facebook)
KM: The chicken is a metaphor for everything. The chicken will never go.
SL: Has the chicken left?
KM: The chicken is there. Alright? Don’t you worry about that chicken.
13. How has starring in Orange Is the New Black affected the way you perceive prison, particularly women's prisons? (Grace, Facebook)
KM: Well, having not thought much about it before this job… What do you mean?! It’s affected every aspect of my life! When you’re immersed in something like this creatively it forces you to think politically and socially as well.
SL: You have more sympathy.
BuzzFeed: Because from what I get from watching it is an understanding of a whole world that you didn’t know. You feel educated and informed but you don’t feel lectured.
KM: But the learning new things is the turn-on, isn’t it. It's a whole new world.
BuzzFeed: And it’s good that it’s so approachable.
KM: How old are you?
BuzzFeed: I’m 26.
KM: Cutie pie.
BuzzFeed: [feels weird]
14. How would you escape Litchfield? (Aimee, FB)
KM: Well you know how Vee [Lorraine Toussaint] got out? I didn’t go, did I? I’m not going to do that. I’m going to go the honourable way.
SL: No. I think these two women...
KM: Do time. Get out. Our infractions are rather honourable, do you know what I mean?
15. What sort of progression do you think your character will have in the next series that you’ve not had in the others? (Ellie, BuzzFeed)
KM: In Season 4, we’re in quite straightened circumstances now. The jig is up. There’s the overcrowding. It’s not only serious, it’s life threatening. Tsunamic, in its size. With Red, who has seen all forms of darkness, she will bring to bear all of her skills and a certain kind of deep capacity to keep a secret and to make it work for her, which I think the audience will not suspect. Then you will see. Well, you saw what happened in the first episode.
BuzzFeed: Oh yes.
KM: Don’t forget about that first episode.
BuzzFeed: I don't think I can.
16. In the OITNB CD-ROM, is there a way to get out of the dungeon without using the Wizard's Key? (Dan Gummer, Facebook)
BuzzFeed: I think this is a joke question.
KM: Of course! We’re in London!
SL: Of course there is!
KM: No, you have to use the wizard’s key. That is the only way. Watch out for the goblin hats.
17. When do you think your character has been at their bravest?
KM: It’s an ongoing thing.
SL: To be continued.
KM: I think I showed a lot of courage. I showed a lot of courage with Vee, standing up to her, I should a lot of courage letting go and divorcing my husband, you kidding? That’s a big deal. That’s cutting the lifeline. A lot of courage with Nicky, she needs a constant effort of courage.
SL: I think about standing up to both you and Vee, being caught up in the middle, standing my ground and not letting any one of you taking me too far in. I love that about Gloria. I’ll stay in my line. There’s a courage in the fact that she’s a survivor of domestic violence. There’s courage in that. And what is very courageous is for her, in this particular season and we saw the beginning of that at the ending of Season 3, is for her to be aware of her actions, of what she did, caused a really horrible situation for another human being.
She started something and she is facing that. Humans don’t want to take the blame and I think she’s owning it. That’s courageous.
18. Orange Is the New Black is fairly unique where there are multiple seasons being commissioned at the same time. Do you have much of an understanding of what’s happening beyond the series you’ve just had?
SL: Absolutely not.
KM: It’s a new day. And we don’t even know our backstories sometimes. It keeps you on your toes.
BuzzFeed: I guess that changes the way you perceive your character, if you learn something new halfway that person experienced 20 years earlier.
KM: It does, doesn’t it? Well, happily for me I was second up in Season 1, so I knew why I was in there.
SL: I had to wait a whole season and a half to realise, "Oh that is why I am in here." But I did get a glimpse of it early on. She says early on to Piper when she wants help, she says, "I was trying to feed my kids." And then here we are with the welfare fraud.
BuzzFeed: So is it purely the scripts that you’re given and then you try perceive your character or are you given notes?
KM: You don’t get a lot of notes, especially if you are doing something interesting … If we are less than fully alert, Jenji could throw a curve right? So you have to stay on it. She might give you this, she might give you that – she’s expecting you to come up with a lot of it. You’ve got to be in the game.
BuzzFeed: Could we quickly take a photo of you both for the piece?
KM: What? You don’t want to play a game? You promised me a game!