Two stars take the Hollywood Reporter behind the scenes of their characters’ big decision in the season 6 finale: “It was about two people who love each other.”
Alex Vause had a surprise up her sleeve in the Orange Is the New Black finale.
During the supersized, 84-minute season 6 episode, the Netflix prison dramedy paused its maximum security infighting so it could hold a secret prison wedding for Alex (Laura Prepon) and Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling). Alex — with officiant Nicky Nichols (Natasha Lyonne) and witness Lorna Morello (Yael Stone) in tow — planned the wedding Piper so desperately wanted to have before leaving Litchfield.
“It was a sense of normalcy for Alex and Piper,” Laura Prepon tells The Hollywood Reporter. “With these women in prison, anything that gets you to forget where you are, even for a few minutes, is pretty magical. That scene in that moment was about their union and their love and they did what they could with it, considering they are in a Max prison.”
While the Litchfield nuptials signified a full-circle moment for the formerly tumultuous couple at the center of OITNB, the scene also carried with it a heavy weight. The even bigger finale twist was that Piper was being let out of prison on early release, meaning that the wedding sequence doubled as a final prison moment for the scene partners, who are likely to have glass between them when the show returns for its already-renewed seventh season next year.
“I’m not really a wedding vows person — that isn’t my forte, but I was really excited to do this for the fans of this show,” Brian Chamberlayne, who wrote the episode titled “Be Free,” tells THR of penning Alex’s prepared vows and Piper’s impromptu speech. “I have always been a fan of their relationship, so getting a chance to do a momentous moment like that was a big deal. And then to be on set when they’re shooting it really did feel like something special. It was beautiful. And they all brought it. Natasha was amazing. It was really a beautiful, beautiful scene to watch.”
With Alex still facing four years left on her sentence, Prepon says her character planned the moment with Piper in mind.
“I think Alex would have been okay just being engaged and knowing they are together, but Piper really wanted to do the ceremony,” she says. “She really wanted that box checked: Ok, we did it, we’re married. I think Alex knows that about her, so as Piper’s going-away gift, she plans the whole thing.”
Behind the scenes, Prepon was actually “deathly ill” and worried about getting Schilling sick.
“We almost pushed the scene because of the kiss at the end. There was this whole conversation about whether or not we should push it, but when I talked to Taylor she was like, ‘No, let’s do it,'” Prepon recalls with a laugh. “So that whole day while we were at the altar, stationed around us on the windowsills were tissues and cough drops and all this stuff for me.”