Exclusive Interview: Madeline Brewer
* This article contains SPOILERS
Have you ever felt as if your heart just died after losing one of your favorite characters? That’s exactly how I felt when I saw Tricia die of a drug overdose in the episode “Bora Bora Bora” on “Orange is the New Black”. Madeline Brewer, who played Patricia Miller, a drug addict with such an unfortunate ending in OITNB, has proven to show amazing talent for a young woman in her first role! From only one meeting with her, I can assure you that this is both an intelligent and humble actress who will go very far. She’s nothing but very sweet!
Bora Bora Bora is one of most memorable episodes of OITNB because of Tricia’s tragic ending. I have watched this episode over and over and wished that she had stayed. We got to see Tricia Miller as a troubled girl with an addiction to drugs. The flashbacks conveyed her experience growing up as a runaway; living homeless as she carried her principles. This was shown by the journals she kept of what she “borrowed” from people so that she could pay them back.
KR: Hey Maddie! Are you ready to do this?
MB: Hello! Yes, absolutely!
KR: Alright! We got some questions from your fans on Twitter. From @jmandeberg, Would love to hear how Maddie got into acting and landed a role in OITNB?
MB: Ok, I think I got into acting when I was about 7 or 8. I did my first show called A Christmas Carol and with the influence of my dad. My dad was an actor and I remember looking through his entire acting scrapbook and I wanted to be opened up to that as well. And you know? I’m a daddy’s girl. I just wanted to do anything my daddy could do… Like playing basketball and so on. So, I started out acting that way and I felt absolutely madly in love. So, I booked Orange is The New Black because I went to school for musical theater at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy and my during last semester there I had the opportunity to perform in front of agencies, directors, etc. I ended up signing with the agency Judy Boals Inc.
KR: Wait, they scouted you?
MB: They came to see a panel. We had a panel night and they came groups of casting directors, agents, talent agents… They all came to see the next crop of students that were graduating and they saw me there and asked me to come back in to their office to sing.Then, they signed me in the middle of September as a singer/musical Theater performer and then on September 27th I auditioned for OITNB for the role of Tricia Miller who was described as …Taryn manning type, corn rows, neck tattoo…so that was September of 27th I think and my first day at work was October 5th!
KR: Awesome! So, who was the first person that you met on set?
MB: The first person I met was Laura Prepon.
MB: Yeah, first day I was there getting my hair done. I remember her putting her hand on my shoulder and she said ” What’s up, I’m Laura.” And I was like ” I think I’m gonna pass out. I can’t breathe” and I said [nervously and shaking]” Hi I’m Maddie” just so nervous and 6 times after that I almost called her Donna [That’s 70 show] I got over that.
KR: OMG! [Laughs]
MB: How could I not!? She’s such a large part of my youth! I still watch That’s 70 show.
KR: That’s so cool! Did you expect all the recognition that the show is getting?
MB: Well actually… I remember sitting on set with Lea DeLaria…
KR: Big Boo!
MB: … Yes, Big Boo. We were having lunch and I remember her saying something to the effect of ” Man, this is show is gonna be huge! ” She also said ” It’s gonna be SO good. People are gonna love it. ” And I remember her saying ” I don’t know how critics are gonna say about this but people are really gonna like the show.” And then the show comes out and it’s 20,000,000 times bigger than we expected! I don’t know how everybody else thought but I thought it was gonna be a good show and everyone was gonna watch it. But, I never expected to be this huge.
KR: Yeah, because these days people are like regularly binge watching shows…
MB: YES! it’s like you just can’t get enough. You can’t stop.
KR: It’s just like you can’t pause. You just want to finish it. Like, you just want to know what’s next!
MB: Yeah! This is one thing that I like so much about a lot of the characters. Like, seconds after you meet them, you wondered how did they get to prison. You wonder what their lives were like, you become so interested in these people. I think the cast is brilliant!
KR: So, did you get the scripts days before? What was it like?
MB: Hmmm usually a week before shooting, we would get scripts.
KR: And how are you dealing with your fans around the world?
MB: I don’t even know if I’m dealing with it. [Laughs] I honestly just feel like I try to get back to those who show me love and I just want to get back because they don’t know how much it means to me, every single message, every single tweet, when someone said just want to let you know I love Tricia, I love your character… I love the show… It hits me deeply…
[We paused because Maddie started to tear up while mentioning her fans]
KR: Aww… Don’t cry. Come here. [Hugs]
MB: I just appreciated so much because I’ve never imagined this. Ever.
KR: Aww… Thank you for that. Anyway, how did you prepare to play a character with such a story like Tricia’s?
MB: Well, being that we only got the scripts like a week in advance before shooting the episode, I didn’t know what was gonna happen with Tricia like from the get-go. I didn’t know about episode 10. I had no idea! Actually, Tricia was only written into the story apparently to support Mercy’s storyline. Like oh that’s sad Mercy had a girlfriend who’s still in prison.
KR: Wow! Really!?
MB: Yeah! But, they kept writing for me, for Tricia. But when it came to preparation…hmm… like when I found out about in episode 8 that Tricia would be going through withdrawal. I had a couple friends from my hometown, a very close friend …actually a best friend… who was addicted to Oxycontin and heroin and I spoke to him about his experiences. I can’t know what that struggle of addiction was like because I never felt that before.
KR: Have you seen it?
MB: I’ve seen it. I’ve seen people struggle with it and I screamed at one of my friends like ” What are you doing to your life?” But it also I’m very happy because I witnessed and I understand that it helped me so I was able to understand Tricia. It’s not emotional thing. It’s chemical. She can’t control it.
KR: Yeah, just like what Nicky [Natasha Lyonne]said in the show. It’s chemical.
MB: Yes, it’s chemical! It’s so very true that a lot of people don’t realize. Like “oh that person is bad. They’re a bad person because they made a bad choice and they are bad because they do drugs.” But, you know? Sometimes it only takes one time to become addicted and to have that chemical literally take over your entire life.
KR: How much of yourself and your own experiences did you bring it to Tricia character?
MB: I brought A LOT of myself to Tricia Miller.
KR: Like the way you walk? [Laughs]
MB: No! That was Jenn’s [Jenn Rogien, Wardobe] boots. As soon as I put those boots on I developed some swag but some of Tricia’s physicality like the arm crossing originally started because I was trying to show the sweet tattoos on her hand! And the way Tricia crosses her arms isn’t the way I cross my arms. I crossed my arms like this [Maddie demonstrates me show she usually crosses her arms]
KR: Ahhh… I didn’t notice that THAT what she was doing!
MB: …. Also, being on such a high profile show, with these incredible people like Michael Trim [Director of the pilot] and Lisa Vinnecour [co-executive producer] was really nerve-wracking when I first started. Like… they produced and directed WEEDS! I was afraid of screwing things up or messing on my lines so I was very nervous and that’s how the arm crossing came from and once I realized I had that going, I just kept it.
KR: Cool. You know? I heard that Lisa is really nice.
MB: Lisa is our angel sent from California! She is the sweetest woman I think I’ve ever met in my life and she just made me feel like I had been her friend for a very long time. She just made me feel so welcome and I’m sure everybody you talked to on the show would rave about her! I wish I had more positive adjective to say about her! But I’m not that articulated…..
KR: What was the most difficult part about playing Tricia? Was it being a lesbian? [Giggles]
MB: No, that actually came pretty easily even though I’m straight. I did tell my followers on Twitter that I’m straight but before that the marriage proposals were pouring in. But, no, actually it wasn’t hard at all. Especially, because of the girl who plays Mercy[Katie Lacona.] She’s adorable! I’d just be like “Come here. I’ll kiss ya” [Smile] The most difficult thing of playing Tricia was try to understand how she ended up where she ended up, which I’m sure a lot of people in the show tried to figure out with their own characters. You think, “How is this person ended up here?” because I don’t know anybody else, but I literally can only see Tricia in a positive light. I think she’s a wonderful person who made a couple bad choices.
KR: Looking back, when Tricia was talking to her friend when they both were homeless and she mentioned her step dad…
MB: Yea, Tricia had a bad life at home and that’s why she ran away . She was dealt a kind of shit hand. Sorry for cursing…
KR: Thats ok. Go on…
MB: She had to do what she had to do to survive. I feel like drugs numbed the pain a lot for her. That’s what’s the most difficult thing for me to figure out.. how did this wonderful person get to be in jail? That was the most difficult part for me to piece all that together.
KR: And you did a wonderful job, by the way.
MB: THANK YOU!
KR: If you could be any characters besides Tricia who would that be and why? I’ve got a lot of interesting answers from people I’ve interviewed.
MB: I would want to be 2 people.
KR: No, pick one!
MB: Fine, I’ll pick one… Oh this is so difficult because they are all so incredible. Honestly, I think I have to say …
KR: I would never guess this right.
MB: Oh there’s no right answers! Who would you think I would pick?
KR: I don’t know! One of your team maybe? Nicky?
MB: I feel like Nicky was the person I thought of immediately because I was fascinated by Natasha’s [Lyonne] character.
KR: Oh that made me think of the scene when you screamed her name “Nickyyyy!!!” As she walked away… I cried and also got goosebumps…
MB: Oh I cry every time watching that. Filming that with Natasha was something serious. Well, Natasha’s past is no secret. So I really kind of worried about doing that scene …justice?
KR: Did she guide you through?
MB: She didn’t guide me through necessarily but she did really help me through it by being very positive. “You did an awesome job with that.”
KR: So, who will you pick?
MB: Now, I think I pick Piper [Chapman]
KR: OOOH… I did not see that coming. Please let me lie down and process!
MB: Because I feel like everybody sees Piper as this one note character but I just see so many things about her. She’s so interesting to me. You see that in episode 10 when she was talking to Deena [Girl in wheelchair] and the fact that she’s not sure what’s in her head is fascinating to me… And the way Taylor [Schilling] plays it is flawless.
KR: I agree. She could be hilarious or uptight and the list goes on. So, what do you miss the most about the show?
MB: Tricia! Does that sound selfish? I miss her.
KR: Nah. That’s fine. I like everything about her, even her clothes.
MB: Oh my gosh. I want to cry! I miss looking in the mirror and seeing Tricia. I miss discovering things about her and just getting to know her. I really feel like I lost her as a friend. It’s like so crazy … [Tears] like I sound like a crazy person!
KR: Oh no! Come here you. [Hugs]
MB: … This is also my first job, really.. so I got SO into it. I became so immersed in the character and learned so much about her. I grew so much. And this person doesn’t exist but this person does in my heart!
KR: To me, these characters are real because you can also relate to them. Not all of them, but some of them.
MB: In every character, I feel there’s a way that everyone can relate to them. It’s like you can just feel what they feel. You just empathize with all characters. Also another thing that I miss about the show is being around these amazing people. All the cast wanted to do was to lift each other up.
KR: I got another question from your fan, @LibbTech. When Tricia goes to the store to pay for stolen item then she steals again, Homeless or Kleptomaniac?
MB: Yes to homeless. Klepto? I think Tricia got into this routine of thinking that she would pay it back. Honestly, I think she stole it because she wanted to get it for a girl that she liked.
KR: OHHH… Inception! [Laughs] I didn’t think of that! OMG! Is that why she refused to stay at that girls place when they met later and the girl got a job and had a boyfriend!
MB: I don’t know if you notice, but when I was watching that scene of myself. I just watched that happiness drained from Tricia’s face and I thought “Good job, Maddie!” That’s the thing though like that scene when both of them were on the street and she tried to flirt with Allie but she didn’t know how. I think that people might think that Tricia was gay for the stay. But in reality, she did really love Mercy. People saw Tricia in episode 10 when she got out of that guy’s car. She did that to pay for her addiction. I feel like before Mercy, Tricia always had a thing for Allie. When she found out that Allie had a job and she was doing so well and she had a boyfriend, she realized that she had no chance with Allie.
KR: Okay. Pause. I just failed as a fan. [Laughs] You have no ideas how many times I have watched it. I would have it on even when I was working on my projects or writing.
MB: No! You are fine I’m on round 4 and I keep discovering new things. I would put it on as I’m getting ready. It’s not just you. I promise! I watch it all the time.
KR: Alright, today has been wonderful. Last question for you, what would you like to tell your fans? And please don’t cry again. [Laughs]
MB: Oh my gosh, I might. I would like to tell my fans, Tricia’s fans and all the the fans of OITNB, that I’m so thankful for you all it’s inexplicable. I have no words to describe how thankful I am that you all have watched the show and have shared it with your friends. You shared your love with all of us. Every single one of us appreciate it more than you can even imagine. It touches our heart and I hope that you continue watching and I won’t be there physically in season 2 but I’ll be there for the ride.
KR: We can harass the writers to have you back! [Laughs]
MB: Common, guys! Get Tricia back in there! [Laughs] No, I’m so thankful for the fans. You guys have changed my life in so many ways you don’t even understand. Thank you so much!
KR: Alright, folks, let’s get Maddie to 100K on Twitter, yeah?
MB: I’m down with that! 100K come on get me there! And thank you for the interview!