Lori Petty, Star of “Orange is the New Black,” Discusses the Failed Prison System Lolly
This Article Contains Extensive Orange Is the New Black Season 4 Spoilers.
There’s always one narrative in each season of Orange Is the New Black that leaves fans feeling hopeless. Season four focuses on the deteriorating mental health of Lolly Whitehill (Lori Petty), a fierce friend to no one.
When we last saw Lolly, she was on the verge of attacking Alex Vause due to her NSA-related paranoia (Laura Prepon). In the premiere of this season, she saves Alex’s life by nearly kicking to death the hit man sent to kill Vause; Alex then goes on to complete the killing.
Lolly’s illusions lead her to construct a time machine to return to that moment, setting in motion a season of emotional upheaval.
From flashbacks, we learn that this is how Lolly has always been: The former amateur reporter with paranoid tendencies chooses group home living in favour of selling coffee on the streets, where she eventually experiences a psychotic episode witnessed by police and meets her untimely end.
Although Lolly makes some progress at Litchfield with Sam Healy’s erroneous advice, the murder that stalks her eventually destroys her. Vulture discussed time travel with Lori Petty, and they discussed why Lolly deserved better than prison.
In What Ways did You Familiarise Yourself with Lolly’s Backstory Before the Start of the Season?
Not much at all. Amazing authors who will pen an episode and then tune in to see it come to life. It’s like a dance where they follow your lead and then take the lead themselves.
Where you take it is visible to them. I don’t think it’s completely thought out. It’s a real partnership; they collaborate by thinking on their feet as they write. They’re good at listening, seeing, and feeling. Nothing is planned out in advance in Doggett and Big Boo’s episodes.
It May Seem Weird to See a Younger You in the Flashbacks. It’s Uncanny How well Christina Brucato Captures Your Likeness as Lolly.
Don’t you think it was just fantastic? Dude, she was fantastic. Since we were the same person, naturally, I never had an argument with her. People at work told me the next day that they mistook her for me when I was reading my lines because she sounded so much like me.
Is Lolly Acting Out of Concern for Alex, or doe She Actually Know What She’s Doing When She Kills the Hit Man Ordered to Assassinate Alex?
She has no intentions of killing him. In fact, she’s just trying to keep her pal safe. It just ended up like that. It was a matter of “kill or be killed” when he tried to murder Alex.
She finishes off his life by saying in her best Lolly impression, “So there’s this big hole in the fence and everybody’s going swimming, and I just thought maybe you’d want to go.” I’ve rescued you, so let’s go swimming or something.
That is very awesome. It’s hilarious and terrifying in equal measure. It’s terrible and hilarious at the same time; that was quite challenging to write, play, and edit. Absolutely fantastic! You love her so much, but you’re like, Just don’t sit next to me. [Laughs.]
The Day They Shot the Dismemberment Scene Must have Been Intense.
Jesus Christ. It was revolting, man. They carry blood in bags that, when slashed in a specific way, release a gush of blood. I mean, there would be a lot of blood spurting out. Plus, it was fantastic… Several times I had to gag. The sight made me feel sick to my stomach; it was so revolting.
Clearly Lolly has a History of Mental Illness. Did You have to Perform any Research to Get into Her Head?
Since I’ve been acting since before you were even born, I’ve had plenty of experience portraying characters who struggle with mental health issues. I’ve seen movies, talked to doctors, and done research at the University of Southern California.
In addition, I played a patient with Huntington’s disease for three episodes of House, expanding my knowledge of mental health issues generally. I didn’t make a point of learning about this one, but I have no doubt that she is exceptionally bright.
It’s true that she hears voices, but it doesn’t mean they don’t have something to say; as she puts it: “Just because they’re not real, doesn’t mean they don’t have In other words, she has a high IQ but is schizophrenia.
She tries hard, and she has good intentions, but she just isn’t getting any support. That’s exactly what transpires. Instead of treating them medically, they lock them up.
Though We don’t Know the Whole Backstory, Do you Believe Lolly Should be Behind Bars?
No. It would be interesting to see what happened to land her in jail and what day it was. Why did this occur?
For the simple reason that they will lock you up without any further consideration. Here in Venice Beach, where I reside, law enforcement frequently does random pick-ups.
Who knows, maybe that did happen. She had previously spent time in that deplorable halfway house.
Do You have Someone Whispering in Your Ear as You Film the Moments Where Lolly is Hearing Voices, or do You have to Make it Up Yourself?
Both. Sometimes the script supervisor will read the lines “They detest you, they’re going to kill you” to the cast and crew, but this is not an in-ear monitor. This isn’t always the case, though, because sometimes they ask for cleanliness.
Neither option bothers me. To get a laugh, I can pretend to be hearing voices. My favourite part was her talking stick, which she uses to silence the crowd.
This reminded me of something out of Tank Girl. We relocated, and I looked for it in vain afterward, so I’m afraid I lost it. [Laughs] I had visions of carrying it around the streets of Venice.
This Season, Lolly has been the Conduit Through which we have Gained More Insight into Sam Healy. Lolly Doesn’t Know what Happens to Healy after his Suicide Attempt, But are you really Surprised that he Checks Himself into a Mental Health Facility?
To put it mildly, that floored me. It’s not uncommon for me to just read my lines out loud while I work. Mainly because I don’t see the point in assuming that my character does. In all honesty, I skipped over that section.
I was aware of what had transpired with Samira Poussey, but I was unaware of Healy’s hospitalisation. Thus, my perception was identical to yours. To put it bluntly, it scared the crap out of me. What a fantastic performer Michael Harney is.
Thankfully, Lolly Does not See the Destruction of her Time Machine Either.
Really, that was the saddest thing that could have happened to me. And that’s saying a lot, considering that Emma [Myles, who plays Leanne] is a close friend of mine. They screwed up, though, and the time machine was destroyed.
To think, Emmaaa! Not in any way, shape, or form! The time machine was a big hit with Lolly.
Where do you Want the Discourse About Mental Illness and the Prison-Industrial Complex to go with Lolly’s Story?
You can’t just throw them in jail. The situation calls for assistance. True, there has never been a time when everything went wrong at once, as she claims. Everything that could have occurred did. I’d say a third of the homeless population on Venice Beach has mental health issues that need to be addressed.
And no one is caring for them; they’re just being discarded. Those people have no idea that locking someone up or abandoning them on the beach is wrong. We need to support one another.
If you have to put people in jail because you don’t want to help them, then you’ve reached a fucked up point. That’s the way it went down with Lolly.
Hence, her desire for love and kindness. It’s common for humans to act in response to an immediate necessity. She’s a good person who’s in need of assistance, in my opinion.
The Fact that Lolly Recognises Her mental Illness is the Worst Part of the Whole Story. However, She Acts Out of Place When Admitted to the Psych Unit after Confessing to TheMurder. Tell me About Your Experience While Shooting that Scenario.
Everything about it was terrible, like a nightmare. When you’re in character, you have to believe what you’re doing as an actor. This means that the psych facility where Lolly was taken also housed others who were restrained but who were not shown on-screen.
They, however, were present. I guess I was just testing the waters to see what they had in store for me. People were restrained, some were allegedly forcibly administered medication, and others were confined to cages; all of these allegations are genuine. Truth be told, that is exactly what occurs.
This was my initial thought: “Imagine if this were happening to you.” It really was horrible. Knowing that everyone is someone’s child, mother, or sibling helps you see that there are no strangers. Me and you make up the “us” in this sentence.