Wright, Jodie Foster and “Orange is the New Black” thesps Taylor Schilling and Kate Mulgrew talked about changing viewer habits and the impact on their work during the “Women Ruling TV” panel sesh held Thursday at the Television Academy’s headquarters in North Hollywood.
Hours before Netflix raised the curtain on season two of “OITNB,” Schilling said that in the past she never felt her work as an actress got much notice. But that changed last year.
“Almost 72 hours after the show was released my experience walking down my street was completely different,” she said. “I had come to realize that people just spent 13 hours with me. It’s a really visceral, intimate relationship with the audience.”
“Kind of perverted,” Wright interjected.
Since Netflix released its original series and all episodes at once, “binge” watching became the new topic of discussion.
Maybe Foster doesn’t sit and watch all at once, but she says she wouldn’t want to watch TV any other way and becomes irritated when multiple episodes are not at her disposal.
Wright echoed, “You don’t have to have a reservation. That’s what it feels like, an appointment. It’s at your whim and that is what society has become for all of us. We want it when we want it.”
Variety’s Jenelle Riley moderated the panel. She asked whether “House of Cards” would have made the same impact if the episodes were released on a traditional weekly schedule.
“Maybe not, it’s a Catch-22,” said Wright. “You hear both sides from the parties that watch. Which are ‘I’m an addict, I want more.’ It’s almost like they want to take your blood. Then in concert with that is the liberty to do what they want. ‘I’m paying for my program so let me dictate when and how.’ ”
Mulgrew said the nature of the storytelling on “OITNB” was liberating for her as an actress.
“Suddenly it’s the understanding that intelligence is in now in the foreground rather than in the background,” she told Variety. “Beauty is not recessive, beauty is always lovely, but what’s more important than beauty is what takes place between two people. And within these prison walls human interaction is at its absolutely most intriguing.”
Schilling said she continues to be enamored with the world of her character, a woman who unexpectedly winds up in prison for youthful mistakes.
“She wasn’t pining after a guy, she wasn’t just some sex pot, she wasn’t getting over some guy — she was finding herself,” Schilling said of the character’s complexity.
Mulgrew added, “I’m going to risk this and say, we do of course have men (in the cast), but by virtual of the fact there aren’t so many men, we are free to be absolutely authentic. There’s a freedom. There’s a trust.”
Foster has directed episodes for both Netflix series. She told Variety that she is drawn to different things as an actor and as a director. “I think I’m drawn to straight drama as an actor, I don’t know why. And I’m drawn to singular stories about one person and lots of lonely people. As a director, I’m drawn to ensembles and how their lives interweave and I tend to be drawn to things that are a lot more whimsy.”
Foster also said she enjoys being a fly on the wall watching Kevin Spacey and Wright work.
Wright said working with Spacey is beautifully comfortable and gloriously surprising.
“He sings with surprise, there’s always a melody and while you’re following it like you would a beautiful classic tune you’re always surprised where he suddenly throws in some AC/DC.”
Jehane Noujaim, director of Netflix’s Oscar-nominated doc “The Square,” about the Egyptian uprising, also participated in the panel.
“Everybody on our team was arrested, tear-gassed or shot at,” she said. “I think when you watch people who are putting everything that they have on the line to fight for what they believe in, you are making this sort of unspoken contract with them that you will give their story a platform. You can’t give up on that no matter what it takes.”