OITNB’s Julie Lake on how she transforms into the delightful Angie

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Amy Swales
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When you love a TV show, your favourite characters become so familiar that it’s hard to imagine them outside the realms of said programme.

We’re big enough to admit that we still get a little kick from seeing actors in real life (so to speak, we don’t follow them to the offie or anything), especially when the show they’re starring in generally has them looking incredibly different.

With the fifth series of Orange is the New Black recently released on Netflix, many are once again loving the transformation of the cast members.

Thanks to the joyous invention of Instagram, it’s easier than ever to look up stars and see them as – shock horror – real people.

As Cosmopolitan points out, the seasonal refrain ‘No way! That’s Angie?!’ can once again be heard in lounges across the land as viewers come to terms with the fact actor Julie Lake is not, in fact, a drug-addicted prison inmate with dental problems.

Just for a recap, this is how you’re used to seeing good old Ang:

And this is what she normally looks like:

In an interview last year, Lake joked that she was disappointed the transformation didn’t actually take too much work, telling “I wish I could say it takes three hours to make me look hideous, but […] the make-up alone is two minutes and the hair is 20.”

She added: “It's amazing how hideous you look with bad teeth. I remember the first time they did it I looked in the mirror and smiled and burst out laughing […]

“They have a palette of colours that’s like tobacco stain, nicotine, coffee, dark greens, yellows and browns, it’s disgusting. Then they just paint it on, it's like 30 seconds tops.”

Similarly, Taryn Manning also looks far from her character Pennsatucky. While Manning has found herself having to tell interviewer after interviewer that the character’s bad teeth are indeed “just make-up”, she does say that it helps get her into the right mindset.

She told GQ: “The teeth did help me – when we came together and made the look up, it all just came together. What else can you do but like just take it to the limit? I kind of like just made that choice when I saw the way I looked.”

Some of the stars go a little method to inhabit their roles, and Emma Myles – who plays Angie’s partner-in-crime Leanne – told that she didn’t wash her hair for four days before her first audition. Which obviously proved to be a successful tactic.

“All of the girls who were auditioning for Leanne, they were all very pretty, very clean. They had clean shirts and make-up and perfect hair. I was like, I’m either dead wrong or I’m on to something right now.”

Meanwhile, one of OITNB’s breakout stars, Uzo Aduba (Suzanne ‘Crazy Eyes’ Warren) has said in the past that her characterization hinges on physicality above all else.

“The physicality, that’s very important to me, and yeah, I didn’t want to strictly lean on the name Crazy Eyes in terms of the performance. I wanted the use of the eyes to be purposeful. When she stares, there’s meaning there,” she told in 2014.

“I wanted to try and see if it could be more terrifying if there were no ‘crazy eyes’ and she was just focused. But then when she’s with Piper, she’s trying to wink at her, but it’s like she could never get only one eye to close. It’s like both eyes are always blinking. She can’t quite finesse the flirtation [...]

“I wanted everything else in terms of her physical being to just be a 10 because everything about her exists at a 10. She gets angry at a 10. She loves at a 10. She feels like she’s fallen ill at a 10. She takes her medication at a 10. Everything is 10 with her [...] I love physicality. I love movement very much. I think that’s definitely a piece for me in finding who this person is.”

One of the bigger transformations is that of actor Laura Gomez into Blanca Flores – the inmate who refuses to wash, hides behind an unhinged persona and uses her body odour as a weapon.

She’s previously said of the make-up and costume process: “I try to help as much as I can with my hair – I leave it curly and let nature do its thing. I shower though! I shower. And the unibrow is an eye pencil – our then-makeup artist was inspired by Frida Kahlo.

“The whole physical transformation is so freeing. It really helps me become the character. There’s no sense of vanity whatsoever. In the case of Blanca, I think it's a defence mechanism. Letting herself go like that physically is a way for her to not deal with any sense of self, because you don’t feel like yourself when you're in prison.”


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Amy Swales

Amy Swales is a freelance writer who likes to eat, drink and talk about her dog. She will continue to plunder her own life and the lives of her loved ones for material in the name of comedy, catharsis and getting pictures of her dog on the internet.