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Natasha Lyonne Sounds Off on Whether Nicky Will Return to Orange Is the New Black

We will never give up hope for more Nicky Nichols

Sadie Gennis

Natasha Lyonne doesn't even remember when she found out she would be leavingOrange Is the New Black. But fans will never forget the shock they experienced when Nicky Nichols was hauled off to Maximum Security only three episodes into the new season.

But is there hope Nicky could return? Check out our full interview with Lyonne to find out!

Was it your decision to leave or the writers' decision?
Natasha Lyonne:
Jenji [Kohan] is a mastermind, and she has excellent plans always.

What did you think of the way Nicky left?
I think it was very appropriate. I think when people are self-destructive it has big consequences. And I think what's so excellent about Orange Is the New Black is that, as funny as it is, it's always grounded by the stakes of the situation these characters are in. I think that's why the show resonates the way it does. People are really up against the wall and thematically up against themselves quite often within their environment. And I do think that Nicky's self-destructive, addictive behavior was something that was being played with during the first two seasons and something that in the third season really came home to roost.

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Why do you think Nicky had a tendency to self-sabotage?
We've certainly investigated some mommy issues. And that's just the stuff we know. [We] say nothing of what daddy's all about. ... But I also personally believe and identify with the fact that certain people have a real existential dilemma and therefore have a certain readiness to drop out rather than self-preserve. Whatever the circumstance, I think a warped instinct can be created wherein a person becomes wired for self-destruction over self-preservation, which one would assume is sort of the very basis of survival of the fittest: I'm looking to keep myself healthy and fit and away form danger. And yet, we see so often in society people who go out of their way to put themselves in harm's way just because that's how they're wired. Their brains are kind of telling them, "I want out of this runaround people are calling a life." So, I do think that's really Nicky's journey to learn in a way. What would keep her tethered to fighting for survival instead of giving up at every turn and self-sabotaging?

We saw a lot more of Nicky's past this season. Was it anything like you had imagined?
There were definitely already a lot of colors of that in the first season, so it was not unfamiliar to me that we were going deeper into that. Certainly the manipulation of the drug addict is a very familiar one. ... I do think the part we already knew from the first season is that her mother was kind of absentee emotionally. [She] couldn't really show up for Nicky emotionally that well and felt like keeping her bathed and fed with a nanny was enough. But I think we see some interesting colors from Nicky's mother in the third season. She's still a woman really broken down and weeping over the fact that her daughter is going to die and Nicky is just so pissed off that her mother has been emotionally absent.

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Do you think there's a chance that we could see Nicky again and how would you imagine that return happening?
I certainly don't know what's in Jenji's mind, but I would love to move inside of Jenji's mind because it is a vast and endless landscape of imagination. So, who knows? And I could certainly see a million different avenues to go down... I mean, I love this show so much. I love everybody that I've gotten to work with. And I'm a big fan of the whole situation.

And you get to be a fan now, watching the show.
At some point in the future, I imagine myself sitting down and consuming the entire show in one Red Bull sitting. But that time has not come yet. I am a big fan of all the people and the scripts that I read and the episodes that I've seen at the premieres and such. And I'm also such a big fan of the photos that all the fans send all the time.

The fans must be bummed that you're out.
I'm very grateful to Netflix for insisting I get on Twitter. I've really taken to it. And these people that send me things on the Internet daily are so terrific. ... I really, really enjoy the fan base of this show, and they're incredibly imaginative and cool. I'm just very into the whole thing. I've really been having a good time with this, so we'll see.

Do you hope Lyonne returns to Orange Is the New Black?

Additional reporting by Hanh Nguyen.