Lorraine Toussaint is one of season 2 of Orange Is the New Black's biggest scene stealers as Litchfield's latest villain Yvonne "Vee" Parker, but as it turns out, getting into the mind of a sociopath was only one of many challenges for Toussaint when it came to acting the part. Also among them: Getting naked on camera and not having it seem like an act of bravery, simply because she happens to be in her mid 50s.
Toussaint recently revealed to Vulture that she initially had a non-nudity rider worked into her Orange Is the New Black contract:
"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 [Mulgrew] 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.
(Warning: OITNB season 2 spoilers ahead.)
But ultimately, the script called for nudity in a flashback depicting the post-coital aftermath of when Vee horrendously seduces her surrogate son.
"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,'" Toussaint tells Vulture, but ultimately, the seasoned actress decided that wearing underwear or having anyone but her do the scene felt untruthful to the role:
"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?"
Thankfully, shooting the scene couldn't have gone better and towards the end, Toussaint realized that she didn't mind being dubbed as brave after all:
"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."
Toussaint also revealed some pretty interesting facts about her character, like how she wasn't told that Vee was a sociopath until 10 minutes before shooting her first scene ("I'm shooting in ten minutes. Okay, okay, okay. Uh, let me look up the clinical definition of what that is!") and how Vee might not actually be as dead as we think she is:
"Originally, she was definitely more dead. And as we went along, she got to be less dead. And then she was less and less dead, to the point where when we got to the day of shooting, I went, "Oh!" Because originally the van went "bumpity bumpity bump!" and you got the death close-up and everything. I went, "Oh, she gets swiped!" I'm telling you, she got less dead as we went along. Maybe she's stunned. This woman is a survivor. I love that about Vee, actually. The instinct to survive in us as human beings is extraordinary. At the end of the day, we will fight for life, and life is worth the fight, even in Vee. It was interesting giving my dark side the keys to the car. I went joyriding."
Toussaint and Miss Rosa both.