(Desiree Navarro / WireImage)
While she’s best known now as the Villainous Vee on breakout hit “Orange Is the New Black”, actress Lorraine Toussaint has had an illustrious acting career spanning nearly 40 years on both stage and screen.
The talented actress recently chatted with Vulture about taking it off for “Orange Is the New Black” and being older:
In the last of Vee’s flashbacks, she seduces her surrogate son. How’d you feel about having to disrobe?
Oh my God. I read it, and I go, Jesus Christ, is there no bottom to this woman? Literally and figuratively. My agents had the good sense to have me sign a non-nudity rider, thank you, Jesus, because they’ve seen the show. There was even one point where Kate and I are standing around between takes in a bathroom scene where there are more tits and bush walking past us than we know what to do with. Everyone droppin’ trou, and Kate and I in a corner. She says to me, “You signed a non-nudity rider, too, right?” I said, “You betcha. Nobody wants to see two old broads, trust me,” and she says, “The sad part of it is they didn’t even fight us on it.” We had such a great laugh about it. So then I get this scene, and the producers immediately say they’d do it with a body double, or maybe Vee’s wearing underwear. They said, “We’ll do whatever you want to do to make it comfortable.”
But you changed your mind.
Well, this is what age does to you, and my darn sense of truthfulness and commitment to a character. I looked at that thing every which way to see, how can I camouflage it? How can I not show my tits? How can I not do this naked? I was so grateful that this train had passed me by. I am well into my 50s. I don’t do that. I don’t want anyone looking at me going, “Oh my God, she’s so brave!” [Laughs.] Dear God. No. No. No. And then I thought, There’s no way around this. There’s no way this woman would be self-conscious. There’s no way. If I wore underwear, it would actually draw more attention to the moment. How do I do this as simply and as unselfconsciously as I’ve done the rest of Vee? Then I thought, Okay, we gotta do this — but wait …! Then my vanity kicked in. I did trial runs in the mirror. Oh, God! Then I involved a few friends, a few really, really good girlfriends, and I said, “Okay, take a look! Whaddya think? Give me, please, your honest opinions.” Then I got a couple of my gay guy friends. I thought, The real test is the gay-man test. They will not hold back. So I, you know, stripped for them. I even sent a picture to my agent, and said “Tell me honestly, please! Don’t let me do this! Don’t let anyone feel sorry for me, okay?”
How’d it go on the day itself?
They were so respectful. It was a closed set. Everyone was gone except for the people who had to be there. There was a point where after you’ve done a take or two, I mean, what’s there to hide when there’s nothing to hide? You’re emotionally, psychologically, physically naked. I remember there were a couple of takes where they’d say, “Cut!” and I’d suddenly go, Oh, shoot, Lorraine. Cover up, girl. They cut already. [Laughs.] It was like the girls are out, and they are out for the day. It was another level of liberation, because I really was being — to the best of my ability, I was being brave. I like when I’m scared and I do things scared. I was pleased I was brave enough to be true to that moment and true to that woman and serve her.
Read the entire interview over at Vulture.