The actress shared some candid responses to fans' questions about the show, her career and her big persona

By Drew Mackie
Updated June 23, 2015 01:20 AM
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Credit: Jenny Anderson/WireImage

Orange Is the New Black has produced a few breakout characters in its three seasons so far, and one of them is Carrie “Big Boo” Black, a gruff but lovable inmate played by Lea DeLaria.

DeLaria, 57, who has been acting since 1994, did a Reddit AMA on Monday that had her giving candid answers to fan questions about the show, about Boo and about being a self-described butch lesbian in a pop culture landscape where such women aren’t often seen. Here are give of the more interesting tidbits DeLaria shared.

(And here’s your spoiler warning: DeLaria’s answers reveal some minor plot points from the show’s third season, but what kind of Orange Is the New Black fan hasn’t powered through all 13 episodes already?)

1. Her fans can be rather forward with her.

Upon being asked about the strangest thing she’d ever been told at a meet-and-greet, DeLaria had a good answer: “Sign my boob.” She elaborated that she’s never one to let down a fan, either. “Of course I signed it!” she said. “HA! I’m going to say no to that?!?”

On another occasion, a fan asked her to sign a screwdriver. (If you don’t watch, then just know that a screwdriver has served an unconventional role on the show.)

“They had a sharpie and everything, came running out of the Ace Hardware on the corner in Bushwick where I live, about 48 hours after the first season dropped, screaming ‘BIG BOO, BIG BOO, sign my screwdriver!’ ”

2. She’s good friends with costar Taryn Manning.

When one fan asked what she enjoyed most about her scenes in the most recent season with Taryn Mannin, who plays Pennsatucky on the show, DeLaria said the best part was Manning herself. “She’s very cool and talented,” DeLaria said. “Very giving, as an actor. In fact, we hang out quite a bit off the set as well.”

In the season premiere, her character wears clown makeup for a special Mother’s Day event at the jail, but it proved problematic for Manning, DeLaria explained.

“Taryn and I would talk and laugh between takes, and this particular day, she kept looking away, she wouldn’t look at me, I knew she was doing something very emotional and she wouldn’t look at me,” DeLaria said. “So Andrew McCarthy (the director) came out and said, ‘Why are you being so quiet, Taryn?’ and Taryn said, ‘I can’t look at Lea, otherwise I’ll start laughing!’ ”

And yes, by the way, it’s that Andrew McCarthy, who has directed several episodes of the Netflix series.

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3. Natasha Lyonne’s hair smells like something surprising.

One Redditor asked what Lyonne’s hair smells like. DeLaria’s answer? A dog.

“Her dog’s name is Root Beer. So I’m going to say her hair smells like her dog. (I’m saying that to be funny. But I’ll probably get a text from her in a few minutes.)”

4. She’s absolutely nothing like her onscreen character.

One fan asked if DeLaria is at all like her Orange Is the New Black persona. DeLaria, who shares a few qualities with Big Boo, had a good response.

“No, I’m very shy and demure,” she joked. “And actually, I’m heterosexual and married to a really nice man. We have 2 kids, a collie, and a station wagon!”

(DeLaria explained elsewhere that the character was written especially for her.)

5. And she knows why Boo is such a rare character to have on TV.

Upon being asked what she likes most about her character on the show, DeLaria explained that she knows how rare it is to have a fully realized butch lesbian character onscreen.

“My favorite thing about playing Boo is how 3-dimensional and real she is. Until this show, whenever a Butch lesbian was portrayed, in ANY media form, she was always stupid, a truck driver, drank too much, beat her girlfriend,” DeLaria said. “Boo is not only smart, she’s the smartest person in the prison. And she has a heart of gold. There’s not an ounce of violence in her.”

6. She has a least favorite character, as well as one she thinks Boo should hook up with next.

Asked if there was an Orange character she just can’t stand, DeLaria had two responses.

“Sam Healey. I think he’s a jerk,” she said. “They keep trying to give him good qualities, but he always does something that pisses me off! And of course, who liked Vee? (Except for Crazy Eyes.)”

Later, she was asked which inmate Boo should get into a relationship with, and DeLaria didn’t hesitate with an answer: “Oh please. What am I, stupid? PIPER! She’s the f—— star of the show! Then I get to be in every scene!”