There’s something about Natasha Lyonne that doesn’t quite fit—and that’s a good thing. She’s an actress who could easily belong in a different era, with her Bette Davis eyes, Elaine Stritch rasp and Katharine Hepburn sass. After appearing in more than 50 films, the die-hard Manhattanite nabbed an Emmy nomination for her role as recovering heroin addict Nicky Nichols on Netflix’s Orange Is the New Black, which returns this month. We love Nicky because she’s a straight-talking dame in a 21st century package. For Lyonne, it’s the perfect fit.
Nicky found herself in a precarious situation at the end of last season. Will there be consequences?
Shit really goes down this season. Every character has her own individual wormhole—an endless beast of psychological trauma. That’s life!
You’ve been acting since you were six. Is there a role you haven’t played?
In my personal life, I have so many dynamics with men, but I rarely play that on-screen. I’m usually the alpha character—a hero I wish I could be in real life. It’s ironic, because so many actresses have the opposite problem.
How do you feel about nude scenes?
I always felt like saving my tits for the right thing to come along, and it never happened. I would be more inclined to do a nude scene if it wasn’t about sex, but I wish I had done it when they were perkier, because now it’s going to be significantly less exciting. For anybody who sees them in a future as-yet-unknown project, I want them to think, Damn, I wish I had been seeing those tits for years! Maybe I can even push it back until I’m 40.
And in real life?
I’m usually topless making coffee, but other than sex and showering, I don’t spend any time bottomless. When men wear T-shirts with no underwear, it’s confusing. Follow my example: If I’m topless, then that’s a good look for you too.