The star of Netflix’s ‘Orange Is the New Black’ pays to get abducted in Pat Healy’s inventive feature film debut.
Taylor Schilling’s new movie Take Me finds the Orange Is the New Black star in quite the strange scenario.
The film centers around Ray Moody (played by also-director Pat Healy), who is running an immersive kidnapping therapy business out of his basement. Anna St. Blair (Schilling) is a successful Hollywood businesswoman who discovers his Kidnap Solutions, LLC website — which, as a fun Easter egg, now exists online just as it’s shown in the film — and makes the struggling Ray an offer he can’t refuse: A weekend abduction, with the special request of being slapped around, for far upwards of his usual bounty, $5,000. What ensues is a game of cat-and-mouse where the roles of abductor and abductee become so blurred, viewers will be questioning Anna’s intentions all the twisty-way through.
The Orchard’s black comedy, which is Healy’s (Cheap Thrills, Magnolia) feature directing debut and was executive produced by Jay and Mark Duplass, premiered at New York’s Tribeca Film Festival last month and released Friday in limited theaters, on iTunes and VOD platforms. The film will release on Netflix later this year.
Here, Schilling talks with The Hollywood Reporter about the deliciously manipulative Anna St. Blair, going method for her next indie role in Fam-i-ly and what to expect when Orange Is the New Black returns with its highly anticipated fifth season in June.
[Warning: The following Q&A contains minor spoilers from Take Me.]
What attracted you to this role and how do you view Anna St. Blair?
I felt like she was on such a clear track. She knew so clearly what she wanted, and there was something really attractive about that. She’s also brilliant, so there were always two things happening. I thought of her as a bit of an addict needing to get her fix and there was a specific recipe of being dominated and then dominating that she needed to experience to be able to go on with her life. And that interested me.
Take Me is largely made up of intimate scenes between you and Pat Healy. Did you two improvise and did any of your many physical scenes provide for on-set comedy?
The scene we improvised a lot was the key scene. There is a part where Ray swallows a car key whole [in an attempt to keep Anna from escaping], and it was just so gross and so awful. We made up a lot of that scene, because it was just so disgusting, and they left it all in. But there were a lot of scenes where we ended up in fits of laughter. There’s this part where I throw a bar of soap at him and I’m supposed to keep hitting him very hard. Everybody thought I was going to miss and we wouldn’t have to worry about it, but I didn’t miss. I’m a good aim. So I kept nailing him in the face and I thought that was pretty funny. He was fine, but that was pretty wild. I underestimated my abilities.
How do you compare Anna to your starring character on Orange Is the New Black, Piper Chapman?
The manipulative aspect of Anna does seem similar to Piper, there’s a manipulation that they both are doing. But I really saw them as two separate entities. They are different in a lot of ways. What happens here is that Anna believes both she and Ray are in on the game. Whereas with Piper, nobody is in on the game (laughing).
Piper’s big flaw is that she constantly makes herself a victim of scenarios. Meanwhile Anna shatters the damsel-in-distress trope. How did it feel to switch to playing Anna, who appears to be so in charge?
I had so much fun playing Anna. Like most indie movies, we shot it really quickly. It was one of the quickest shoots I have ever been on because it somehow just soared. It was really fun to play something where she was always in the game, but then there was this other track and two parallel lives of both of them enjoying playing the game so much and getting a kick out of it. And for Anna, not knowing that she was completely manipulating Ray. In her mind, she just thought he was playing the game really f—ing well. There’s nothing about her that’s sinister or evil, because she really thinks she’s finally met her match. Someone who can bring the tears and the blood and be so involved. Filming this movie was sheer pleasure. When you make movies — particularly with the Duplasses, who I love — it’s about nothing other than enjoying making the film. It’s not about the money or the luxury of it and it then leaves space to just play. It felt like camp for a little while or something.
You recently wrapped your next indie movie, Fam-i-ly. Since you have to be selective and film between seasons of Orange, why this role and movie?
I just finished shooting it and I’m so excited about that movie. Filming that movie felt like filming on the first days of Orange. This was the only other experience I’ve had on camera where it felt like that first season and just like lightening in a bottle a little bit. Where you don’t hear peoples’ reactions to it and are just in your own bubble, almost like a fantasy land, because the outside doesn’t exist yet. There’s no commentary on it. It’s like first falling in love where you think, “Oh, there’s this about you and that about you.” That’s sort of what Fam-i-ly felt like. We all had so much fun filming and believe in the material so much.
You gained weight to play Kate, who is described as a binge-eater. Was this the first time you transformed your body for a role?
Yes. It was so fun. Everything about it. She is an interesting kind of broken, sad woman, but also really funny. It’s another really funny movie. She’s very different than Anna in Take Me. She’s a piece of work, an interesting woman who is taking care of her 12-year-old niece for a couple weeks and who helps her through a time in her life where she has gender issues and really feels uncomfortable in herself. And they bond over that.
What can we expect from the new season of Orange (on Netflix June 9) and how does this season taking place over three days continue to raise the stakes?
In prison, the real stakes of your life are so heightened, it’s as heightened as It can be because your life is falling apart. But the collective stakes for the first time are heightened. Where everyone is dealing with the same crisis and has the same issue and in that, it’s really interesting to see alliances come together and what parts of people come to shine. It’s very cool to have everybody on the same mission together. There are some scenes where we’re all together [like last season’s death scene], but this season still breaks it up a bit with all the characters.