Exclusive Interview : Joel Marsh Garland
The cast of Orange is the New Black is known quite well for having such a supporting cast on and off the set. Without question, Joel Marsh Garland falls into this category.
Garland plays the role of Litchfield’s corrections office O’Neill. Garland’s character struggles with his diet and while he may feel to be the eternal dieter, as many of us do, he seems to be one happy guy. The audience may be misguided to believe that O’Neill is only a minor one-dimensional character, but every time he is on screen Garland completely steals the moment in the show.
KR: Are you ready?
JMG: Yes, I’ve been ready!
KR: Hey, look at us! We are matching!
JMG: What kind of matching? You are a little browner than me.
KR: It’s green, Joel. Green.
JMG: [Laughs] Just messing with you. Yes, we are matching!
KR: Alright, how did you get involved with an awesome show like Orange is The New Black?
JMG: I went in for Jen Euston who asked me to audition for a different part, I will not say which part it was.
KR: Please! Which part!? I’m legit begging. [Laughs]
JMG: No! I won’t. It’s a GREAT actor who does it.
KR: OMG! Pornstache!? It was him, wasn’t it?
JMG: [Laughs] No. But, please don’t go through all the names. If I say anything, you’ll know who it was. [Laughs]
KR: Mr. Healy!?
JMG: [Chuckles] I went in for a different part. They didn’t want me for that part, but Jen [Euston] said “Look, come in for a CO [Corrections Officer.] There will be more.” And there was nothing written about this character. First episode, I remember working with Matt McGorry [CO Bennett] and we both knew there were no promises or anything else. Come in. Do this one episode. I think he did one scene in the episode. We joked around a little bit, we liked each other and hoped that we would get more work.
KR: So, that was just the pilot.
JMG: Yes! It was just the pilot and it was one line, and I said “OK!” But, they knew they were doing thirteen [episodes.] Jen said I would probably come back because they needed COs around.
KR: Aww. Yeah!
JMG: The second episode, they asked me to basically do the same thing, come in and count.
KR: Oh yeah. Click! Click!
JMG: To be honest with you, you know, I was just happy! Its a lovely work environment. Happy to have the work and to be developed… They started to write things for O’Neill. The writers found a voice for that character… It’s been great. I had no idea it would turn into anything or if they’d keep me around, but at the end of the day, I did almost every episode. We went away for our honeymoon so that episode I missed.
KR: Aww… How nice! So, what had you done before Orange?
JMG: Uh, A lot of stuff. What do you mean? I did this. I did that. [Laughs] I did Kings on NBC. That didn’t go very far.
KR: Oh Kings! I liked that show!
JMG: Yeah, you remember? With Ian McShane.
KR: Yes! I saw a couple episodes and wondered what happened.
JMG: So, Ian was in it. Bucky from Captain America, he was in it, and…
KR: Sebastian [Stan] was in it!
JMG: A bunch of people were in it. Me and Jason Antoon played the palace guards. I don’t know if you know him but you’ll see him here and there. He’s a good actor. So, we did thirteen episodes, but NBC broadcast two of them then it disappeared. It was a fun show. Nice people.
KR: Yeah. I was like ” What!? What happened to the show!?”
JMG: Anonther thing I did was The Bounty Hunter. Did you see that?
KR: Jennifer Aniston.
JMG: And Gerard Butler.
KR: And that’s where I saw your photo with the beard! At The Bounty Hunter premiere!
JMG: That was the last time I did an interview on the red carpet before Orange and yes, I had a beard. Normally, I do. When we started doing Orange, I was in a play set in the 50s at the Vineyard Theater. You know what? Kate [Mulgrew] did a play there, too!
KR: And I’m ashamed to not know that.
JMG: [Laughs] So, that was in the 50s. I shaved and then when they cast me in Orange, I was already shaven.
KR: Well, I like this look, too.
JMG: Yeah, I’ll keep this look as long as they keep renewing the show and wanting me around. [Knocks on wood]
KR: Dear readers, he just knocked on wood.
JMG: [Laughs] If you see me walking around with a beard, you’ll know it has not gone well.
KR: What was your first day on set like?
JMG: As I said, it was the pilot. I got there and didn’t know anybody. Jenji [Kohan] was there, I didn’t meet Jenji. Jodie Foster was there and I didn’t meet her because I thought I was only doing one line. She’s Jodie Foster and I didn’t want to trouble her.
KR: Wait, I thought she directed the third episode.
JMG: She’d come in just to watch, see how it looked. She was around a bit in the first two episodes to get a sense of what we were making. So, I didn’t meet Jenji and I didn’t meet Jodie Foster. [Laughs]
KR: [Laughs] Aww…
JMG: I showed up and tried to memorize my line. I also spent a lot of time fiddling with the clicker. The other CO (played by Harold Surratt) and I go in, and count prisoners with the clicker. I was just obsessed with that thing! And I was like, “oh how does this work?” People must have thought I was a crazy person, but that was the one unique thing my character had as a prop. That was my first day. I was working that clicker seeing how many clicks I could click in one day.
KR: Yes! Watching that scene, just like Nicky [Played by Natasha Lyonne] “How many times did you people have to count!?” I heard the trailers were nice.
JMG: We were filming in the studio. I had no trailer. Who told you we had nice trailers?
KR: I don’t know. Someone said. I can’t say.
JMG: [Laughs] I’ve become quite familiar with the “honey wagon”. It doesn’t smell like honey.
KR: Anyway, your favorite scene to film?
JMG: Of mine?
KR: Of yours. And also as a viewer, what’s your favorite scene to watch?
JMG: Of mine?
KR: Or others? [Laughs] Just tell me, Joel!
JMG: [Laughs] Favorite scene I’m in? I really dig the GoGurt scene. It takes the power away from Healy, really emasculates him. That’s the reason I love that scene. I think it’s really funny, not because I’m funny but because the gag is smart and it undercuts Healy’s authority at the same time.
KR: I was watching and thought “Whoa, he keeps eating! Healy looks SO mad.”
JMG: You know? I liked that scene because it’s more complicated than just a guy eating yogurt. It moves the story in a nice way.
KR: Who do you wish you could have a scene with?
JMG: I’m psyched anytime I have a scene with Kate [Mulgrew] because she’s great. I have fun anytime I have a scene with Piper, I mean Taylor [Schilling.] I want to have a scene with Lolita [Foster.] We had one scene together and I wish there were more.
KR: Oh, did you mean the scene where you guys were reading mails? Screening mails to be exact.
JMG: Yup. I’d love to have more interactions with Lolita. We play scrabble online.
KR: Did you mean ” Words with Friends? “
JMG: Yes, Words with friends. But anyway… I love other people’s scenes. The episode that I’m not in, I think it’s episode 11 that Constantine Makris directed. They all listen to Larry’s radio broadcast in prison. I just think that scene is such a killer. To watch that betrayal! And to watch everybody’s reactions to it. That episode is one of the best… I can’t say “we made” because I wasn’t in it. Everyone’s work is great. The writing is great. The shots are great. I just love that scene.
KR: Here, I got some questions from your fans on Twitter. Your character seems to be eating most of the time. Who came up with that? Writers!
JMG: The writers! I mean I’m a fat guy.
KR: No, you are cuddly!
JMG: I’m cuddly, but the writers have to be careful. If they tell me “oh you are eating all the time” then I would literally try to eat all the time in every single scene. I might forget I’m a human being, not a vacuum cleaner. I’m a bit of a literalist. They have to keep me on a leash.
KR: Right! Are you sick of eating GoGurt yet?
JMG: I get this question a lot on Twitter. [Laughs] I ate A LOT of GoGurt that day. Not just GoGurt, it was “watermelon meltdown” flavor. They had to buy cases of GoGurt because you don’t get only that flavor. It’s a variety pack.
KR: I actually tried GoGurt. It was pretty good, but not the watermelon meltdown.
JMG: [Laughs] Really!? I’m more of Greek organic yogurt kind of guy.
KR: Aww. All green Joel! By the way, a lot of your fans asked if we would get to see O’Neil’s back story. I know it’s top secret and you are not supposed to tell us. But, I just needed to ask…
JMG: I have no idea. Hopefully, you’ll get to see O’Neill. No, you know that I’m going to show up somewhere. [Whispers] I can’t talk about that. Come on. I believe that the last 7 episodes will be all about O’Neil. The last 7 episodes of Season 2 are just O’Neil, alone, compulsively drinking Tang. All of us will have to watch that.
[Both KR & JMG laugh hysterically]
KR: I can post this, right?
JMG: You can use it. Throw it in there![Laughs]
KR: Please tell me a little about your fan encounters experiences.
JMG: Fans are always super nice. A few weeks ago I was on my way to the studio and this guy comes up to me on the train. He’s a really sweet guy. This was right when we started filming Season 2. He says “Look. I really hate to embarrass you, but I LOVE Orange Is the New Black and you are absolutely my favorite character on the show and I’m just so excited to see you and I saw the woman who plays Yoga Jones the other day and she took a picture with me so…” He asks me to take a picture with him and I say sure, you can take a picture with me. Then on the other side of the train I see Vicky [Jeudy.] She comes walking over and says, “How are you doing?” This kid falls to his knees on the train floor and turns bright red. “OMG! OMG!” And I say, “Am I still your favorite?” and he goes ” You are very sweet and yes you are but OMG OMG.” So we took a picture with him. Nice guy.
KR: [Laughs] That is a cute and funny story. Vicky stole your scene!
JMG: Oh I don’t mind. I love Vicky. Steal it all.
KR: Which character would you like to play for a day?
JMG: To play? Hmm…
KR: Yeah. You could pick any. You could be a girl.
JMG: I think …
JMG: No, I don’t want to play Piper. She’s got it rough.
KR: [Laughs] Everyone warns me you are super funny. I need some air!
JMG: I would play Red. For a day. That’d be fun. Especially Red in flashbacks.
KR: Oh. You wanted to tit punch! [Laughs]
JMG: No, I don’t want to tit punch. [Chuckles] There’s something in the flashbacks that shows Red as a smart, interesting person who’s ambitious, but has difficulties with her husband and her peers. I think Kate does a beautiful job with that. We see her as a powerful person in the prison, but it’s great to go back to her as a vulnerable less self-assured person. That’s who I would like to play. Red in the flashbacks!
KR: Great answer!
JMG: Thank you.
KR: Are there any projects you are working on?
JMG: I’m on a couple of projects. Something coming up. I have a small part in a video game coming out. Do you know anything about video games?
KR: I don’t but I can ask my husband. [Laughs]
JMG: It’s Grand Theft Auto V. I can’t say much but my part is deeply rooted in Grand Theft Auto legend.
KR: This is great for your fans who love video games!
JMG: I have also been editing a dance film that I collaborated on with friends. Our first showing is October 24th at a festival in Brooklyn (this interview happened about 3 weeks before the show) and then we may submit it to dance on film festivals. I just did an episode of Boardwalk Empire.
KR: I’m gonna have to watch that. I’m behind on that show!
JMG: Let me know if you like it.
KR: So, you do voiceovers, too?
JMG: I do. I’m actually going to a voiceover audition after this. I’ve done radio plays over the last couple of years with Tales From Beyond the Pale. We recorded a series of horror-themed radio plays you can download on iTunes.
KR: Ok. Download. Download. Download. Please link me later.
JMG: Relink. Download. Tweet! There’s another project, but I can’t talk about it. The director is Noah Baumbach.
KR: His name is familiar. I can’t think right now. I have to IMDB him later. Please shoot me.
JMG: [Laughs] A lot of Irons in the fire. I’ve got bills to pay. I’m just lucky to have work.
KR: And we are very lucky to have you.
JMG: Oh thank you! That’s very sweet. We’ll call the snipers off.
KR: Why do you need people watching me? It’s a lovely interview. [Laughs] Anyway, what would you like to tell your fans?
JMG: Hi! Follow me on Twitter! [He pretends to leave]
KR: No! Come here!
JMG: Ok. Tell them I’m not that dumb in person.
KR: Please! You are so not that guy! You are a tech guy who just showed me the coolest phone. Tell them which cameras they should buy like you told me.
JMG: No! Buy one you like! Buy one that takes pictures! I didn’t come prepared for gadget endorsements. I thought you’d want me to talk about Laura Prepon eating GoGurt.
KR: [Laughs] I can’t even breathe right now.
JMG: Thanks for being a fan. That’s very friendly of you. I hope I don’t disappoint you down the road. You haven’t asked me about O’Neill’s underwear! Someone asked me that on Twitter.
KR: Oh yes! Enlighten me. [Laughs]
JMG: There are a couple things I want to clear up about the underwear. First of all, I don’t have as big an ass as that underwear implies. I think the production design is great, and the costume designer is wonderful, but I do take issue with that underwear. [Laughs] My God! I would have to have gluteal implants to fit into those! As to who put my name in the underwear… I’m not sure if it was Props or Wardrobe but they didn’t get a good look at my ass. It’s quite tiny. [Laughs]
KR: Thank you so much for such a hilarious interview.
JMG: You are most welcome!
We had a fun time taking fun photos and an instagram video after the interview. Click here!