Taylor Schilling plays Emily in Patrick Brice’s film The Overnight, also featuring Adam Scott, Jason Schwartzman, and Judith Godrèche. Last week, Cut Print Film had the chance to speak with Taylor about the accessibility and immediacy of the movie, Piper’s embrace of power in Season 3 of Orange Is the New Black, and what it means to believe in yourself.
CUT PRINT FILM: The Overnight takes place primarily in a single house and in LA. Do you think the movie would have been as effective if it weren’t in such a contained location and in LA specifically?
TAYLOR SCHILLING: You know, I think that the smallness of the world and the claustrophobic…almost the intimacy of it—I don’t think that part of the film would have lived as much if we were shooting outside of LA or even if there were more locations. I think that it serves the feeling of one night to have it be such a small, contained environment. You know what I mean? Where it feels like even just being in the house…the film needed that intimacy. And the world is small. The world is still this small.
CUT PRINT FILM: Do you think that the movie was intentionally light on exposition? Did you create a specific backstory for Emily or do you feel like the movie doesn’t really need bookends around it?
TAYLOR SCHILLING: Yeah, I definitely…on my own I knew what was happening for Emily, but I think that the way that we worked…there is universality to how contained the story is, how you really just get a flash of this one event in these people’s lives, and it doesn’t become global; we don’t know that much about them. It just becomes about this experience that I think a lot of people can relate to.
CUT PRINT FILM: Yeah, that almost gives it a universal relatability even though it’s so specific.
TAYLOR SCHILLING: Exactly, like taking it out of the specifics, focusing on the specifics of each character really means we can look at the situation at hand and then that makes it a little more universal. Obviously I think that teaches us, you know, having a young family, being in a relationship, trying to make new friends…. So there’s something I think everybody can come up against at some moment in time.
CUT PRINT FILM: They can, and it doesn’t seem like the movie is relatable only for parents. Do you think it’s important that these two couples have children or would it have worked if they were just exploring their relationships as individuals?
“I think that a lot of people can relate to—I certainly can relate to—being on the edge, feeling like a bit of an outsider, and not quite being able to dive into the experience, or questioning what other people are doing or maybe taking at face value… And she’s experiencing that… She’s really trying to understand what’s going on, but there’s no malice; there’s a complete lack of judgment. There’s just a desire to understand.” -Taylor Schilling
TAYLOR SCHILLING: I think that the kids are an interesting aspect of it, and I think it’s interesting—sometimes we assume that parents are no longer sexual creatures, and I think that the movie sort of challenges that. But the kids don’t have to do with the core of self-acceptance and honesty in a relationship and all these themes of trying something new, moving outside of your comfort zone. That would happen with or without the kids. I think that’s a universal experience.
CUT PRINT FILM: I noticed in the ads, in a lot of the posters and the marketing materials, your character is looking through the portal, sort of looking in on the action. It seems like Emily is kind of both a spectator and a participant. Which do you think the audience should identify more with, the spectator or the participant?
TAYLOR SCHILLING: Well, I think that there’s an interesting piece in both of those. I think that a lot of people can relate to—I certainly can relate to—being on the edge, feeling like a bit of an outsider, and not quite being able to dive into the experience, or questioning what other people are doing or maybe taking at face value. She’s not doing that. But then I also think that there’s something very relatable about that. I mean, there have been many social situations, many parties that I’ve been at…where I feel like maybe everybody else drank the Kool-Aid and maybe I didn’t…that kind of feeling. And she’s experiencing that, but with no judgment, and that’s what I love about Emily is that she really loves her husband, she’s really trying to understand what’s going on, but there’s no malice; there’s a complete lack of judgment. There’s just a desire to understand.
CUT PRINT FILM: The movie doesn’t judge her, either.
TAYLOR SCHILLING: Yeah, which I think is really beautiful because I think oftentimes we can become, like, the nagging wife, or… [a film] can become judgmental is what it can become, and she’s given freedom to just exist.
CUT PRINT FILM: It sounds like, from what you’ve said, this movie was filmed mostly at night. Was that an interesting experience—did you have to take a lot of naps and have a lot of coffee, or was it just like filming at any other time?
TAYLOR SCHILLING: No, that was huge homework, the entire experience of doing that. I mean, that really turned my system around, and it also kind of made everybody, everyone was sort of sharing this kind of wild-eyed, sleep-deprived, weird…almost like losing language skills. We really found that loopy thing when you’ve been up with friends and all of a sudden you look and it’s like 4 AM and you don’t know quite what’s going on, everyone is so cranky, and that just happened in the film, because we were all so sleep deprived. And ten days can easily turn around your entire schedule.
CUT PRINT FILM: Were you filming everything in chronological order, or did you jump around the way that TV shows might tend to do?
TAYLOR SCHILLING: We were able—which I think benefited the movie so much—we were able to film pretty much exclusively in sequential order. It helped so very much. I think that everything that was inside the house, we were able to shoot in order, and then because we just had like a day or two on locations…all of the exteriors were shot in one day.
CUT PRINT FILM: It seems like, obviously, Emily is a very different character from Piper on Orange Is the New Black, but both have their own sorts of strengths. Do you think that they are similar characters to play or do you really relate more to one than the other?
TAYLOR SCHILLING: I think that they’re different. I think that Emily has a much more stable life and is much more at peace with her choices than Piper is. Piper is ill at ease with a lot of her past and her life, and trying to figure a lot more things out. But they both have reached parts of their experience here like an observer. They’re both observers. So they share that.
CUT PRINT FILM: That’s very true. So with Season 3 of OITNB having come out, did anything Piper did this season surprise you, or are you kind of past being surprised by Piper at this point?
TAYLOR SCHILLING: I mean, I’ve just really enjoyed watching how she’s coming into her own, how she is continuing, even through fear, to stretch her wings and to play with her own strength. I really love seeing that in her. And yeah, I guess I was even surprised by how forcefully she was able to take on this new role. She’s just really starting to dominate.
CUT PRINT FILM: Yeah and it’s so interesting because she clearly has some business acumen. I
mean, she had the soap thing going, but now instead of soap it’s panties that she’s selling.
TAYLOR SCHILLING: Yeah, I mean, she does, and that was her experience before she got to jail, that’s what she knew, was that world…of business.
CUT PRINT FILM: And she wasn’t able to use that in the prison much before this time.
TAYLOR SCHILLING: Right, I don’t think she was at all, so this is new for her and exciting.
CUT PRINT FILM: It’s very exciting. And she’s also done some badass things. She now has this tattoo, “Trust No Bitch.” Do you personally, as Taylor, kind of agree with that motto, or are you a little more trusting than Piper?
TAYLOR SCHILLING: I’m a little bit more trusting than Piper. I think the way I would reinterpret Piper’s tattoo for my own life would be to “Trust Yourself,” more so than any outside influences. And I think that’s also how Piper is experiencing that tattoo, even—it’s like, “I’m trusting myself now. Other people’s opinions can’t guide me; I’m guiding myself.” And I think that’s a seismic shift for that woman’s…for how she looks at the world. That’s a 180. I mean, even a whisper of trusting herself, as opposed to trying to appease the outside world and just the status quo, is a big shift for Piper Chapman in prison. And so I think that “Trust No Bitch” thing is her way of saying, “Uh-uh. I’m running my own show now and I don’t care what you think.”
CUT PRINT FILM: Yeah. She’s not afraid of herself anymore, either, of her prison self.
“I think the way I would reinterpret Piper’s tattoo for my own life would be to ‘Trust Yourself,’ more so than any outside influences. And I think that’s also how Piper is experiencing that tattoo, even—it’s like, “I’m trusting myself now. Other people’s opinions can’t guide me; I’m guiding myself.” I think that’s a seismic shift for how she looks at the world.” -Taylor Schilling
TAYLOR SCHILLING: She’s not afraid of herself. Yeah, she’s not, she’s not. And I think that that experience of getting to know yourself—it comes in fits and starts, but she’s on the path.
CUT PRINT FILM: So you recently, on a different topic, performed in A Month in the Country, which sounded like such a great challenge. What was it like working on a text that’s set in such an older setting and based in a different language, as opposed to contemporary things like Orange and The Overnight? Is that something you’d like to do more, to go into different settings?
TAYLOR SCHILLING: Yeah, I think so. I mean, it was a really good challenge. It is sort of where I feel…there’s a sense of homecoming in that kind of work. That’s how I trained, in classic texts, and I went to school for a long time working exclusively on that kind of material, so it sort of is in my bones. But it is a 180 to go from the film world to this world…in 1840s Russia. It’s very different.
CUT PRINT FILM: And wearing fancy dresses as opposed to a prison jumpsuit is probably a little bit different.
TAYLOR SCHILLING: Yes.
CUT PRINT FILM: Do you have a dream role or set of dream roles that you’d really like to do in the theater or in film, whether in classic texts or new ones?
TAYLOR SCHILLING: There are a lot of roles in Chekhov that I’d like to attack, I think.
CUT PRINT FILM: Did you do Three Sisters ever?
TAYLOR SCHILLING: I’ve done Three Sisters in school. I’ve never done it professionally. But you know, I also feel like…the older I get, the less I feel like this is what is gonna be, this is my open, this is what I want to be where I make my mark. I feel like there are so many parts of myself now that I want to explore. I get much more excited. I can get really excited about so many different things. It’s hard to nail it down to one role.
CUT PRINT FILM: That excitement’s so great.
TAYLOR SCHILLING: It is. I still want to do A Doll’s House and play Nora. That would be fun.
CUT PRINT FILM: Do you have any plans for Independence Day or are you going to be wearing your jumpsuit all weekend?
TAYLOR SCHILLING: I am not going to be wearing my jumpsuit all weekend. I am going to be with friends that I love and I’m excited to have a bunch of time off.
CUT PRINT FILM: That’s great! Before I leave you, do you personally think the Litchfield chicken exists?
TAYLOR SCHILLING: Do I personally think the Litchfield chicken exists? Yeah, I do. I wouldn’t put it past any of those girls. I don’t think any of them are making anything up!
CUT PRINT FILM: So you’re a believer.
TAYLOR SCHILLING: I’m a believer.
CUT PRINT FILM: And it seems like Emily and Piper, in the movie and the show, are both kind of learning to believe. So I guess you have that going.
TAYLOR SCHILLING: Yeah, I think that’s actually a beautiful parallel. I think they’re both learning to believe in themselves and to believe in a new way of seeing the world. For sure.