Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren (Uzo Aduba) is one of many women on Netflix’s Orange is the New Black who may inspire one reaction from viewers when they first meet her, through the eyes of Piper (Taylor Schilling), the “new fish” in the prison system, but who will undoubtedly break your heart with her character and her struggle as the episodes unfold. But she is one character who we never got to “go home with,” so to speak and see her pre-prison life. Instead, we hear bits and pieces about her behavior, and we get one very important insight into her when we meet her parents on a special visiting day, but much of the information about who Crazy Eyes is and where she came from is told through Aduba’s rich performance rather than plot points or expositional dialogue.
“When I first started, I was only going to come in for a little bit, but they told me fairly early on that Crazy Eyes was going to stay around for awhile, and I thank God for Jenji for that; I appreciate her so much for that! And in that staying on, I think the thing that they did that was really smart, it made me feel like there was more there for her than just this surface of ‘I’m crazy,'” Aduba said when LA TV Insider Examiner caught up with her in Los Angeles.
“When you get to know Crazy Eyes, she’s maybe not as troubled or as crazy as you think she is– but because you’ve adjusted, you’ve assimilated; this is your world now, and it’s not this ‘Oh I’m from here and you’re from there situation’; it’s more about connecting.”
Since the role of Crazy Eyes adapted and expanded after Aduba got it, there were things that she didn’t know while shooting the early episodes. The key piece of Crazy Eyes’ history that was rewritten drastically in Aduba’s mind once she saw it on the actual page was Crazy Eyes’ relationship with her parents, two affluent, white, and seemingly passive people who were probably the types to dote and fret over their daughter, but who inherently were still so different from her it might have contributed to many of her issues.
“When you meet her parents, I think it informs it just going back to the same thing when we look at people who are in prison, we think we know who they are before we even really come to consider who they are. Even myself, with [this character], when I invited her into my life, okay I had an idea of her, and I can say honestly that that vision did not include white parents,” Aduba said.
“And then I can say ‘Okay, she’s adopted, number one, that might explain some things.’ Who knows what age she came to be adopted? And then you start to realize there are so many other things under there, and what is that like to grow up in a house where you’re clearly black, and your parents are clearly white. It changes the narrative a little bit.”
As the first season of Orange is the New Black unfolded, Crazy Eyes certainly seemed to be evolving past her nickname. Sure, she latched onto Piper very quickly in an almost stalker-like way and then rage-peed on her floor when she was rejected. But ultimately, she accepted the rejection and respected Piper’s request for space– even when the reason Piper gave for said rejection (being engaged) didn’t stop her from hooking up with someone else. Many lesser people would have rage-peed (again) about that, but Crazy Eyes took it in stride.
Aduba felt the reasons for that were two-fold and indicative of Crazy Eyes’ character.
“I think it was too many things to compete with, but I also think the line in episode three [where] she says ‘I want a grown woman. I’m tired of all of these silly bitches’ explains it pretty well. Crazy Eyes, she’s looking for true love and sees that in fact [Piper] has somebody on the outside, and yet she’s already prepared to negate that for somebody inside. She’s not really what Crazy Eyes thought she was either,” Aduba said.
“She, in the outside world, is looked as unstable, but you’re seeing her be the stable one [in prison].”
Orange is the New Black is available in full on Netflix right now. Season two is coming in 2014, and though Aduba couldn’t spill just how much she would be a part of it, it’s safe to say she’ll be back!
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