- Warning: There are mild spoilers ahead for Netflix‘s original series, “Russian Doll.”
- “Orange Is the New Black” star Natasha Lyonne spoke with INSIDER about the new dark comedy, saying it’s inspired by her life, but in a fictional sense.
- The childhood actress’ estranged relationship with her parents is at the heart of the show.
But it’s not the only source of inspiration for the eight-episode series which follows a young game coder (Lyonne) trying to escape a never-ending birthday party (think “Groundhog’s Day”). The more you watch of the quirky, dark comedy, which dives deeper into the psyche of Lyonne’s character, Nadia, you start to feel like you’re also watching something deeply personal about the actress.
“It’s all inspired by real life and it’s all sort of fictional,” Lyonne told INSIDER, describing “Russian Doll” as both a personal journey and work from the heart.
Lyonne’s first acting gig, at the age of six, was on”Pee-Wee’s Playhouse.” And while Nadia isn’t a former child star, there are undeniable subtle parallels to Lyonne’s life and her estranged relationship with her parents growing up that are alluded to on “Russian Doll.”
In one episode, you see a young Nadia running errands in an Alfa Romeo Spider, the very same car she drove in alongside her mother growing up. The main difference is that Lyonne told us her mother was always playing Tina Turner.
“When we’re talking about the autobiography of it all, we’re kind of talking about my most deeply personal thoughts and feelings,” Lyonne continued, speaking about “Russian Doll.” “We’re not really talking about my outer experience that much. Because, of course, it’s very different by virtue of the fact that Nadia’s got nothing to do with anything resembling that life.”
That life Lyonne is referring to, at one point, involved drug addiction, an arrest, and needing to undergo open-heart surgery. Lyonne channeled some of that into her Emmy-nominated performance as former drug addict Nicky Nichols on “Orange Is the New Black.”
On the flip side, “Russian Doll” is very much about crawling out of a dark existential crisis, surviving, and doing what may be the toughest thing of all – living. It’s no coincidence close friend Chloë Sevigny, who helped Lyonne during her own recovery, appears on the series.
“She’s like my sister,” Lyonne said of Sevigny. “She’s been a very specific figure in my life and… it’s like the decades keep flying by and we stay that close.”
In eight 20-30 minute episodes, Nadia slowly starts to peel back the layers of her hardened exterior to unearth and face some of her deepest inner demons. That’s something Lyonne has lived through herself.
All eight episodes of “Russian Doll” are currently streaming on Netflix.
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