Blair Brown Talks ‘Parisian Woman,’ ‘Orange Is the New Black’ and the Time She Almost Quit Acting

Blair Brown is back on Broadway for the first time in more than 15 years. But “The Parisian Woman,” the new D.C.-set play by “House of Cards” creator Beau Willimon, comes hot on the heels of an Off Broadway run in “On The Shore of the Wide World,” and after a long list of TV credits that range from her recent role on “Orange Is The New Black” to “Fringe” to “The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd.” She sat down with Variety to chat about the politics of “Parisian Woman,” her own experiences in Washington and the time she almost gave up acting.

Why was this the play that got you back to Broadway?
Initially I signed on because it was Beau. I’m a huge “House of Cards” fan. This play is the polar opposite of “House of Cards.” That one’s about people tossing their moral compasses to the wind, but this play is about people trying to find their way.

The characters in this play are living in the middle of Washington politics — something you have personal experience with.
I grew up in Washington in a government family. When I was in boarding school, we were in and of that world. We were there in the Kennedy era. What I knew growing up was my dad had a government job in the CIA and he wasn’t going to get changed when the administration changed. But I could certainly sense of how different it was for him to go to work when the country changed presidents. And you could feel the city change. With LBJ, people were eating a lot of ribs and drinking out of mason jars, and then with Kennedy, suddenly there were lots of French restaurants.

In “Parisian Woman,” you play the conservative head of the Federal Reserve. Is she based on any real people?
My parents were conservatives. I was not. My character is kind of a conglomeration of aspects of my mother —  who claimed she was an independent, but it was like, “No you’re not, you’re a Republican!” — and then some women I’ve met in the last few years whose politics are different than mine, but I still find them really admirable women. They’re good mothers and they do a lot for their community. The only thing I don’t agree with is when they go to the voting booth. I felt it was important to try to make a case for that group.

You’re doing “Parisian Woman” right after an Off Broadway show. It seems like you’ve worked constantly over your long, varied career.
I just love to act. I’ve had times where I haven’t. I almost quit a few years ago, and literally got the call from Jenji [Kohan, creator of “Orange Is The New Black”]. I’d gotten to a place where you do a lot of these big hour-long shows, which are great and you’re very lucky to have them, but they’re like a big machine. You don’t feel much connection to it. It’s not fulfilling in any way, except financially. But “Orange is the New Black” did renew my spirit and my love for the work, because that group of women, on and off camera, are extraordinary.

Will we see you playing Judy King on “Orange Is The New Black” next season?
I’ve been asked for this season. Judy’s been asked back to the dance. We just don’t know when.

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