The poolside restaurant of L.A.'s Sunset Tower Hotel oozes Hollywood glamour. It's not a place Taylor Schilling, the 30-year-old star of Netflix's Orange Is the New Black, which returns for its third season on June 12, ever envisioned herself in as a solitary child in suburban Boston. "I was obsessed with Little House on the Prairie. I spent a lot of time alone in the suburban bushes wearing an apron, pretending to churn butter," admits the actress, now looking chic in a navy-and-white-striped Madewell dress, a denim Isabel Marant jacket, and Rachel Comey flats.
But as Piper Chapman, her character on OITNB, says: "I finally found my people. I'm going to come out of this experience with lasting friendships." Schilling doesn't even mind the flag-like jailhouse attire. "It's liberating," she says. "Getting into costume is like pulling on sweatpants." Over a Cobb salad and a side of quinoa, she's even been caught singing the show's theme song, "You've Got Time," by Regina Spektor. "It gets stuck in my head so often," she says. "I have to tell myself not to hum in public. It's not cute."
This month Schilling pioneers new frontier in the sexy comedy The Overnight, a modern-day version of 1969's Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice produced by the filmmaking brothers Jay and Mark Duplass. Schilling's character, Emily, has recently moved to Los Angeles, where she and her husband, Alex (Adam Scott), are easily seduced by their neighbors. It was her first time doing improv. "My co-stars Jason [Schwartzmann] and Adam are so funny, and so quick. It scared me," Schilling says. But, perhaps channeling her inner Laura Ingalls Wilder, Schilling flourished. Her performance has been widely praised by critics. As for life beyond Orange, Schilling says she wants to put her childhood obsessions to good use: "I want a role where I can utilize that untapped potential."
"I mean," she adds, laughing, "I can make aprons. I can build a lean-to!"