Jennifer Euston Q&A: ‘Orange is the New Black’ casting
Just how enormous is the cast of Netflix's red-hot prison dramedy "Orange is the New Black"? During our latest Gold Derby chat (watch below), Emmy-nominated casting director Jennifer Euston schooled us on the numbers from the show's breakout first season.
"I think we're a little bigger than 'Game of Thrones'!" Euston exclaimed. "We had to count up and we figured in the first season, it was six series regulars, 54 recurring characters and almost 100 day players just for the flashbacks and stuff, people that would just be in one episode. So, having 54 recurring characters — and it's not like they are just like people that are in three episodes, they're in 10 episodes — even seeing those numbers after we counted them up, I was in shock."
Was Euston ever worried that the cast was too big for the audience to follow? "No, because on purpose I cast and Jenji [Kohan] cast very specific actors. Very specific. Everybody is very different. So I felt that by doing that, you really differentiate between the characters. And I think people watching would identify with different actors and different characters throughout the whole thing."
Euston revealed that only there people didn't have to audition for their roles in Season 1: Michael J. Harney (Healy) and Pablo Schreiber (Pornstache) who were previously on Kohan's "Weeds," and Taryn Manning who plays religious nut Pennsatucky.
Euston made an effort to cast unknown faces to fill the prison setting, and within a year, many of those actresses went from relative obscurity to being Emmy nominees. Among the five nominees this year are a mix of recognizable and new faces: Taryn Manning (Comedy Actress), Kate Mulgrew (Comedy Supporting Actress), and Uzo Aduba, Laverne Cox and Natasha Lyonne (Comedy Guest Actress).
How does Euston feel about seeing her actresses succeed on the Emmy awards circuit? "It's rewarding, but actually I was more excited about their Emmy nominations than my own even, because it's just such a wonderful validation of their work and how good they are. I opened a door for them and I was lucky enough that I had the privilege to cast them. But they did all the work. They really did an amazing job and they deserve it. I'm just proud. I'm like a proud mother more than anything else."
Euston also recalls her previous two Emmy wins — casting "Girls" in 2012 and casting "The Pacific" in 2010 — and shares that Adam Driver of "Girls" is the proudest casting scoop of her successful career.