Credit: Eric Leibowitz/Netflix

After 42 years in this crazy acting business, Orange is the New Black‘s Kate Mulgrew has received her first Emmy nomination for her work as Red in the first season of Netflix’s hit show.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Where were you when you found out this morning?

KATE MULGREW: I was in bed fast asleep.

So this was the perfect way to wake up.

Yeah, it really was. I had taken an Advil PM ’cause I burned my hand on the stove last night. So I was awakened this morning and I thought, “Oh, what’s the news?” And I said, “Oh how great! I’m jumping out of bed; the pain is gone!” [Laughs]

This is such an amazing character. Looking back, what has been one of your favorite moments or scenes to film with her?

There’s a scene in the kitchen where I describe the chicken. I have a dream about the chicken, and I loved this. I just loved the way I describe the chicken, how the chicken looks, its sensibility, its mysteriousness. And in that moment Red, herself, is transformed, and you see not only her wonderful eccentricity, but [also] the depth of her complexity. And you realize that this woman is living on many, many different levels at all times, not the least of which is this [said in character] “mysterious chicken whose power I must have.”

I am dying for that chicken to reappear.

[Said in character as Red] “Well, you can have some when I make it. It’s going to be chicken kiev. It’s going to be great.” [Speaking normally] That whole thing about the chicken points to Jenji Kohan’s genius. Do you see what I’m saying? Who would come up with that except a genius? To understand that the chicken is not only riveting in and of itself because the girls are so hungry for something organic and real, namely a nice roast chicken, but what it means to them, what it represents to Red, and finally what Piper is willing to do to get the chicken—she drops the phone she’s talking to her boyfriend [on] and she goes in pursuit of the chicken. It’s so whimsical and marvelous, and true.

Is that the episode that was submitted?

I don’t know. I don’t know anything about the submission process. I have no idea, nobody told me anything.

Moving forward, is there any part of Red that you would like to dive deeper into, or maybe something you haven’t gotten to explore with the character yet?

Well, there are many elements to this marvelous character that I think are yet to be tapped into. Foremost among them would be the depth of her feeling, the depth of her private emotional life, which she holds in her own imagination, which she sequesters in her own heart, and that once called upon or triggered, or in some way moved, comes out and comes forward in a completely uexpected and, I think, very very moving and powerful way. She’s Russian, you know. [These are] people with an epic history, and I think all of that resides within this character.

If you could give an Emmy to any show, past or present, just because you love it, what show would it be?

You’re asking someone who doesn’t know enough to answer this question. I really don’t know. What you’re suggesting is that I would have to have an allegiance to… I’d give it to Star Trek: Voyager.

That’s great.

There you go. Past or present, Star Trek: Voyager.

Episode Recaps

Orange Is the New Black

Jenji Kohan’s absorbing ensemble dramedy, based on Piper Kerman’s memoir of the same name, takes viewers inside the walls of Litchfield, a minimum security women’s prison where nothing’s as simple as it seems—especially the inmates.

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