We’ve all grown to love Natasha Lyonne as Nicky Nichols on Orange Is the New Black. It was almost as if we already knew the character or at least the person behind Nichols. I know that I had a serious sense of deja-vu when I first saw Nicky. There was something about her sense of humor and the way she talked, but then it dawned on me that Natasha was Jessica from American Pie! She looks a little different, yet that’s her. Lyonne didn’t play a major role in the American Pie movies, but she did make a huge impression.
Aside from her roles in American Pie, American Pie 2, and American Reunion, Natasha Lyonne has been in over 50 other movies. In fact, she went from doing nearly 30 movies in a 10-year span to being one of the most troubled young stars to date. Her drug abuse was so bad that she almost died as a result of it. Despite her past problems, Natasha Lyonne is still a talented actress. Her look and sense of humor are unique and it’s great to see her back in the acting game, yet there are so many things from her past that still remain forgotten. Luckily, we’ve got all of the juicy details needed to refresh your memory. Here are 15 Things You Forgot About OITNB’s Natasha Lyonne.
15. The Babysitter In Dennis The Menace
You might’ve missed it, but even if you didn’t, you most definitely forgot that Natasha Lyonne had a tiny role in Dennis the Menace. She was only 14 at the time, yet her face and those red curls make it rather easy to recognize the much-younger OITNB actress. She only had a small part, but it was only her 3rd movie role.
In the movie, Natasha played Polly. She was the only babysitter who was willing to watch Dennis when his parents went out on a date. Dennis kept playing doorbell pranks, which lead Polly and her boyfriend to prank George who was actually at the door. Let’s just say that George wasn’t too happy, especially since he was already there to complain about one of Dennis’ prior pranks.
It might be difficult to believe, but Natasha Lyonne’s young adult years were marred by antics much worse than those of Lindsay Lohan‘s and Amanda Bynes‘. In fact, Natasha’s drug-fueled incidents were so bad that they still became public knowledge, despite the absence of Twitter. People were reporting sightings of her wandering the streets of New York looking disheveled and lost. It wasn’t long before the tabloids began to call her “Nut-asha” and “Cracktress.”
By 2005, Natasha was a complete mess. Nobody in Hollywood wanted to hire her. She was admitted to Beth Israel Hospital in New York with a heart infection, hepatitis C, a collapsed lung, and it was reported that she had track marks all over her body. Fortunately, Natasha Lyonne was able to come back from her downward spiral, whereas most child stars still haven’t.
13. Nicky Nichols Isn’t Natasha’s First Experimental Role
Natasha Lyonne plays the role of lesbian drug addict Nicky Nichols so well that it almost seems like she’s been there before. This might’ve led you to question whether she’s a lesbian in real life. Although, Lyonne’s very upfront about how much she loves men. She was asked about being a straight lesbian icon by the New York Times, and she said that she would “never want to take ownership of an experience” that’s not her own. Although, she did admit that she has tried sleeping with women.
Aside from real-life experiences, you probably forgot that Lyonne has had plenty of experience acting as a lesbian. In fact, she acted as Megan Bloomfield who was a lesbian cheerleader in But I’m A Cheerleader back in 1999. Plus, her American Pie character, Jessica, first slyly admitted to sleeping with girls in American Pie 2 before showing up on American Reunion with her girlfriend.
12. Natasha Lyonne Sucked As A Tenant
It’d be pretty hard to forget about that scathing 2005 article in Jane magazine, in which Michael Rapaport wrote an article entitled Evicting Natasha Lyonne, which was about his past friend and tenant. In it, he started by describing her as being “one of the smartest, most insightful people” that he has ever known. Meanwhile, he also claimed that she changed sometime after Natasha rented his apartment.
By 2003, things went horribly bad. He said that there were constant complaints from neighbors about her partying habits. The complaints were often about the constant traffic to and from her apartment and “random dudes sprawled out” on Natasha’s sofa at all times. In the article, Rapaport even detailed how filthy her apartment was, including a stopped-up bathtub with flies over standing water. Things came to a head when she trashed a neighbor’s apartment and threatened to molest their dog. In the end, Natasha was arrested, evicted, and Michael Rapaport aired her dirty laundry in Jane Magazine for all to read.
11. Natasha Dated Edward Furlong
Have you ever wondered what happened to that kid from the Terminator movies? You haven’t seen much of Edward Furlong because his past is more sordid than Natasha Lyonne’s. Now, he’s nearly unrecognizable and still considered a walking trainwreck! This makes perfect sense, of course, seeing as how the pair dated around the time when Natahsa’s downward spiral was beginning.
The two met on the set of Detroit Rock City in 1998, but by 2000, they had split amidst rumors that excessive partying and substance issues were the cause. In 2001, Edward was dropped from Terminator 3 and Natasha was arrested for a DUI in Miami, where she gave the officers the now-famous line of “I’m a movie star! Can I talk to my entertainment lawyer?”
10. Natasha Was A Child Star
It’s so easy to forget that Natasha Lyonne was a child star. Natasha did so many teenager roles as a young adult that it’s easier to recall seeing her in American Pie. Natasha did play a few characters as a child and teen, but none were lead characters. She had small roles in at least five movies and a TV show by the time she was just 18 years old.
In fact, one of her first roles was at 6 years old, as Opal of The Playhouse Gang on Pee-wee’s Playhouse! The show ran for four years, but the kids who played The Playhouse Gang roles were switched out after its pilot season. Natasha Lyonne went on to get small parts in Heartburn, A Man Called Sarge, and Dennis the Menace before finally catching a bigger role in Everyone Says I Love You at 17 years old. That led Natasha to her lead character in But I’m A Cheerleader, and her career took off from there.
9. Megan Voorhees
Natasha Lyonne had the pleasure of acting in not one, but two, cult-classic film series. Although, it was pretty hard to notice since she was completely unrecognizable in the second. The first was American Pie, of course, and the second was Scary Movie. She wasn’t in all of the Scary Movie films, though. It was only Scary Movie 2. Plus, it was just the one sequence, The Parody of Regan MacNeil, better known as The Exorcist sequence.
Yep, that was her under all of that creepy gross skin. She was the possessed little girl who provoked the priest by insulting his mother in a violent rant of aggressive slurs. However, this did not end well for Megan Voorhees because the priest was carrying a gun in his robe. Once she crossed the mom line, he promptly blew her head off.
8. Natasha Wasn’t Always So Great With Pets
If you didn’t know about Natasha Lyonne’s past problems before reading this article, then the recent stories about her close relationship with her dog, Root Beer, probably wouldn’t faze you much. After all, if you’re an animal person, you probably love your pet too. Although, you probably haven’t ever threatened to harm one in the past either.
Now, I’m not saying that Natasha is cruel to animals or that she’s actually molesting poor Root Beer. She wasn’t herself back then. All I’m thinking is “now she has a dog who’s like her daughter, huh.” This isn’t weird at all because many people feel that their pets are part of the family; myself included. However, it’s hard not to wonder how she’d feel if someone threatened to harm her pet or if she ever thinks back on what she said to those neighbors.
7. Natasha’s Big Return
Most child stars who get as far gone as Natasha Lyonne never make it back. To Natasha’s credit, this has a lot to do with her raw talent. She’s admitted herself that she didn’t see a comeback in her future. In 2012, she told Entertainment Weekly, “When you go as deep into the belly of the beast as I went, there’s a whole other world going on and something like show business becomes the dumbest thing on planet Earth.”
Despite this, Natasha crept her way back into acting. She began with B movies and plays. Natasha acted alongside Ethan Hawke in the 2010 stage production of Blood From a Stone. That same year, she was also in Tiger Be Still, which is shown in the photo above. It wasn’t long before she was picked up to act as Nicky Nichols in OITNB.
6. Slums Of Beverly Hills
Slums of Beverly Hills was one of Natasha Lyonne’s best films to date. It didn’t do well in theaters, but it slowly became a cult classic. Natasha played Vivian Abramowitz, the quirky wise-cracking 14-year-old daughter of a car salesman. Slums of Beverly Hills is based on Vivian’s point of view while reaching puberty as a big-chested girl. She was determined to get her chest surgically reduced because she wasn’t happy about her changing body.
Meanwhile, her father was broke, and they were constantly moving from one crappy apartment to the next. Natasha was awesome as Vivian. She made her appear to be a hilariously confused teenage girl. It’s sort of like American Pie, only set in the 1970’s from a girl’s point of view.
5. Natasha Lyonne Dropped From The Devil’s Rejects
In May of 2004, it was announced that Natasha Lyonne had joined the cast for The Devil’s Rejects. She was supposed to play Candy, a prostitute who’s obsessed with Star Wars. There were several ads for the movie that included her name in the credits. Of course, Natasha didn’t appear in the movie for unknown reasons, which still remain unclear today. What we do know is that the movie was being filmed during some of Natasha’s worst documented drug abuse years.
Whatever the reason, E.G. Daily ended up playing the role instead. It’s difficult to imagine Candy from The Devil’s Rejects being played by anyone other than E.G. Daily. Daily did a fantastic job of acting as the fun-loving prostitute. Yet, you’ve still got to wonder how Natasha would’ve been had she acted as Candy in The Devil’s Rejects.
4. Natasha’s Close Friends With Chloë Sevigny
You might’ve forgotten that Natasha Lyonne is more than just a great actress. She’s also about as real as they come in Hollywood. This shows in her interviews where she speaks as if she’s close friends with the interviewer. Natasha jokes in real life, just like Nicky Nichols does on screen. Besides, the fact that she’s kept the majority of her friends (with the exception of Michael Rapaport, of course) throughout her trainwreck days says a lot about her character.
One of Natasha’s closest friends is Chloë Sevigny, from American Horror Story. Chloë often jokes that they became friends, just as Edward Furlong appeared to make her the third wheel. However, it was good friends like Chloë Sevigny who stood by Natasha and helped her get back into the spotlight.
3. Natasha’s Many Guest Appearances
Natasha Lyonne has always made guest appearances in some of our favorite TV shows, but this was also another step to working her way back into the spotlight. In her early years, Natasha guest-starred in shows like Will & Grace, Night Visions, and Grounded for Life. She skipped about two years in both television and films from about 2004 to 2008. Meanwhile, she already had some movies that were yet to be released.
Before getting cast in OITNB, Natasha appeared New Girl, Law & Order: SVU, and Weeds. That’s her in the 2012 clip from Weeds above, where she was playing Tiffani in the hour-long series finale. Tiffani was Shane Botwin’s love interest. It was when they all came back together and Shane had become an alcoholic detective.
2. Natasha Evaded The Law
In 2006, a warrant was issued for Natasha Lyonne’s arrest, after she failed to appear in court. Not just once, or twice. She missed 4 court dates. The original charges were trespassing, criminal mischief, and harassment. The charges were from the 2004 incident where she trashed her neighbor’s apartment and threatened their dog. Natasha was never charged with evading the law.
However, what would you call missing four court dates over a two-year period? Eventually, Natasha made more headlines by doing the right thing and turning herself in. This was after the arrest warrant was issued in 2006, but she also checked into rehab first. The judge set Natasha free on the condition that she stayed out of trouble for the next 6 months, which she did.
1. Natasha’s Got Natural Talent
It was too easy to forget that Natasha Lyonne’s brand of natural talent is extremely rare. She can bring a character to life in a way that most can’t. It never mattered if she wasn’t the leading role in movies like American Pie, Detroit Rock City, or Party Monster.
Natasha’s characters are never dull, and they always stand out, as is the case with a show like Orange Is the New Black. Natasha Lyonne plays one character in a show that boasts how large its cast is, yet everyone knows and loves Nicky Nichols. Her character is real and makes you feel for and with her…all at once. This is partly because she’s channeling her younger self as a former addict. Although, it’s also due to the natural talent that Natasha Lyonne has always been known for.