In the season two trailer for Orange Is the New Black, Jason Biggs’ character Larry Bloom is seen for but a split second. Of course, he’s not the one doing time at Litchfield Correctional Facility, the women’s prison where the original Netflix series takes place. The show is the hardly ever-dull story of Larry’s fiancée Piper Chapman (played by Taylor Schilling, pictured right) unexpectedly serving a sentence there for a crime she committed years ago. But as Biggs asked us recently over the phone, “Isn’t it Larry’s story as well?”
To all Larry’s haters—and for the uninitiated, there are quite a few out there—Biggs gets it, but he’ll defend his character and any of the questionable decisions made at his imprisoned fiancée’s expense to the end. “I love that I’m playing such a polarizing character, but I do see Larry as a victim in all of this,” Biggs says.
“Let’s put it this way: Piper gets sent off to prison for a crime that he had no idea about. And instead of running for the hills, he decides to stand by and support her.” Turns out that was the easy part.
From Biggs’ point of view, having gotten to know the real Larry and what it must have been like to deal with a situation like this, Larry’s just a human being trying to keep his relationship—and himself—afloat. After all, prison seems to have either unleashed or triggered a side of Piper neither character knew existed.
“Larry’s really trying to protect himself,” says Biggs, “he’s trying to survive on the outside in the same way she’s trying to survive on the inside. And in trying to keep his own head above water, he ends up making choices that are selfish, but is he not allowed to be a little selfish? And this is spoken by someone who’s been in therapy for years, but I need to allow myself to be selfish sometimes. You need to take care of yourself or you’ll go batshit crazy.”
A distraught Larry “continues to make decisions in season two that will drastically affect his relationship with Piper,” Biggs says. “Without giving too much away, Larry’s trying to figure out if the damage that was done to the relationship is fixable or if it’s beyond repair.”
Meanwhile, on the inside, the prison mates meet some new faces, one of them a convict played by Lorraine Toussaint. “She ruffles everyone’s feathers in the most perfect way,” says Biggs.
But what’s it’s like for the original cast, most of whom were newcomers to the screen, to come back to set?
“You know, I kind of equate it to the American Pie films, coming back and shooting American Pie 2,” Biggs explains. “Everyone comes back and you’re like, wow, how cool is this? People like us! Of course we thought we were doing something cool and really special, but you never know how audiences are going to respond. So coming back to season two, there was this wonderful energy on set—a confidence, a real gratitude. It’s a happy, happy set, made even happier by the success of the first season.”
The cast shoots its prison scenes on a set in Astoria, Queens and also at an abandoned children’s psychiatric ward in New York’s Rockland County. “It’s kind of a creepy place, not going to lie,” says Biggs.
Larry’s scenes are generally filmed “in Brooklyn on a brownstone or somewhere walking on a street, you know, talking on the phone with Piper,” he laughs. “I just have to deal most of the time with Brooklyn hipsters, which is creepy, too, in some way, but a different kind of creepy.”
Orange Is the New Black returns on Netflix on June 6.