Netflix series Orange Is The New Black grabbed nine nominations in its first foray at the Emmys, including outstanding comedy series directing for two-time Oscar winner Jodie Foster and comedy guest actress honors for Uzo Aduba for her turn as Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren. Having long made her mark as a director with such feature films as Little Man Tate and Home for the Holidays, Foster has also been leaving her fingerprints on the small screen, directing the House of Cards season 2 episode “Chapter 22” as well as two Orange Is The New Black episodes, her nominated title being season one’s “Lesbian Request Denied”.
AWARDSLINE: What are some techniques you’ve pulled from all the great directors you’ve worked with throughout your career?
JODIE FOSTER: Well it’s been a 48-year-long film school of just watching directors. I knew when I was little that directing was the thing I was most interested in. I remember being 6 or 7 years old on (The Courtship of Eddie’s Father) with Bill Bixby, who was directing. I thought, “Wow, I didn’t know actors could direct.” You take from every director you work with. I’m not like Spike Lee, David Fincher, Robert Zemeckis or Martin Scorsese. I have a different way of doing things. But there are consistent lessons that you bring from everybody. And then there’s the inspiration of somebody creating a signature and finding their own way.
AWARDSLINE: You shot this episode in eight days with little rehearsal time with the actors. How did you like the fast pace?
FOSTER: There’s a spontaneity you can’t get any other way. There’s a truth to that. Actors can get worn down when they either have too much time to think or have to do (a take) too many times. I know what happens when you have to do something 120 times. —Anthony D’Alessandro
This is Uzo Aduba‘s first Emmy nomination. Earlier this summer she won the Critics Choice Award for guest performer in a comedy series.
AWARDSLINE: Your character initially was set to appear only in a few episodes. How did you react when her role was extended so significantly?
UZO ADUBA: I did the first episode and my only objectives were to tell a good story and to not get fired. (Laughs.) I just didn’t want to disregard her—I wanted to give her a voice, to give her love story a voice as best I could. I’m thankful that Jenji (Kohan) saw my work and made me a part of the show.
AWARDSLINE: You find such humanity in your character and in such surprising ways—how did you do that?
ADUBA: I like to build a character, trying to stretch my imagination as far to the walls of my brain as I can to come up with something that feels truthful and feels real—as close to the skin as I can get it. (My character) Suzanne is a greater symbol of the story we’re telling, that people are more than one thing and more than just their crimes. When I read the first script, there was a note that was the “in” for me that described her as being innocent like a child, but children aren’t scary. That means there is a purity there, a humanity, and someone who is living authentically. I love her so much.
Foster photo by J.R. Mankoff, Aduba photo by Mark Mann.