DETAILS: You and Nicky, your character on Orange Is the New Black, are both recovering heroin addicts who've had run-ins with the law. Do you feel like you're playing a version of yourself?
Natasha Lyonne: It's useful to have a checkered and rich personal life so things you do on screen feel more textured and honest. But Nicky didn't necessarily kick heroin because she wanted to. She probably kicked heroin because she was in prison and had to. There's not a heavy stance on sobriety in the show, and in the portrayal of her, which I really like.
DETAILS: Do you find yourself sympathizing or even feeling sorry for the characters?
Natasha Lyonne: I mean, I can't imagine. Have you ever thought about the way you make a single mistake and then beat yourself up for it? Like, you buy the wrong T-shirt from the Gap and now you have to go all the way through traffic to return it. So consider the idea of making one misstep and the door is suddenly clanged shut and you're in prison, waking up every day with that albatross of regret. I think what really grounds the show is the sense that these people aren't so light on their feet.
DETAILS: When the second season is released on Netflix on June 6, will you binge on the show all at once like the rest of us?
Natasha Lyonne: Oh, I won't watch it.
DETAILS: That's crazy. You have Netflix, don't you?
Natasha Lyonne: Yeah. I just think it's potentially problematic to go back to playing a character after spending 13 hours straight watching yourself play her. It seems to me like a bit of a mind fuck.
DETAILS: Is playing brassy women your "thing"?
Natasha Lyonne: Against my will, I'll tell you. Listen, it's nice to keep getting work—but boy, when I was at Ramaz [an Orthodox Jewish prep school], it would have been nice to be a bit more of a wallflower. I mean, my goodness, could I have ever gotten asked out? I've always had a bit of a shitty relationship with being "brassy," because it meant I couldn't get a boyfriend until I was 17.
DETAILS: In the nineties, you rented an apartment from the actor Michael Rapaport, who then wrote a now-famous essay in Jane magazine about what a troublesome tenant you were. What did you learn from that experience?
Natasha Lyonne: I learned that if you're going to be a troublemaker, you don't want a ton of witnesses, because there's inevitable fallout from living like you're in Lord of the Flies. But it was just part of my youth, in a way. I definitely really did my twenties. I didn't leave a lot of stones unturned.
DETAILS: You've lived in New York your whole life, but you recently shot a pilot for NBC in Los Angeles. It wasn't picked up, but does it mean you'd consider moving out west?
Natasha Lyonne: You know, maybe. But the younger me would really be revolted. It was such an issue of integrity to never live in Los Angeles—I thought, "I'm just going to wear my black clothes and chain smoke and never live in Los Angeles." But I definitely want to be in New York for my later years. I want to be at the matinee with the Sunday Times and my Zabar's.
DETAILS: You were part of the American Pie franchise, which spanned 13 years. Are you close with your costars?
Natasha Lyonne: I adore Eddie Kaye Thomas and Jason Biggs. Eddie was the only one who called me when they were doing American Reunion and told me, "You need to do this." I'd felt like such a showbiz pariah in that moment. He made me feel like I was going to be welcomed if I showed up on set.
DETAILS: And were you?
Natasha Lyonne: Yeah. I sort of caught on once I got there that they'd all been through the wringer themselves. Like, "Oh, everybody has to go through the pains of growing up." I mean, I think most people get arrested at least once. Am I wrong?
DETAILS: Does it bother you that you're asked about your drug history all the time?
Natasha Lyonne: I don't know that I care that much. The cat's out of the bag. But listen: I would prefer if the whole skew of this piece isn't another one of those "Natasha Lyonne recovered from drugs and now she's back on the path." It's becoming a little bit redundant.