EXCLUSIVE: How 'High Maintenance' Was a Therapeutic Moment for 'OITNB' Star Yael Stone

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When it comes to Netflix’s hit series, Orange Is the New Black, there’s no one star, with each of its ensemble players -- including Taylor Schilling, Samira Wiley and Uzo Aduba -- taking turns as the lead or stealing scenes. And Yael Stone, who plays the hopelessly romantic Lorna Morello, is no different. 

“I just try to play my note in the orchestra as well as I can,” Stone tells ET, adding that she was really proud of season four, which saw Lorna become troubled by her marriage to prison fanatic Vince Muccio (John Magaro). And in one chilling scene over the phone, Lorna turned her playful delusion into reality, convincing herself that he’s cheating. “I’m proud to be a small part of such an incredibly challenging, funny, heartfelt show that’s not afraid of addressing some serious social issues.” 

MORE: HBO's 'High Maintenance' Elevated by Eclectic Cast of Guest Stars

But Stone’s moment to shine wasn’t limited to the prison dramedy. This year, she switched sides of the law to play a detective investigating the brutal murder of a gay man, uncovering a series of unexplained deaths in Stone’s native country of Australia on the series Deep Water, which recently found its way stateside via Acorn TV. Stone is barely recognizable as Tori, shedding Lorna’s Natalie Wood-inspired makeup and harsh Boston accent for the gritty crime drama. “That's my first really strong lead,” Stone says of the role that’s akin to Elisabeth Moss’ turn on Top of the Lake. “That's pretty intimidating for me.” 

And as a dog walker named Beth on HBO’s High Maintenance, which debuted on the premium network in September after six seasons online, Stone dealt with the unexpected emotion of losing her own dog. The episode, “Grandpa,” was told from the perspective of a sensitive dog that falls in love with Beth, leading him on his own adventure through New York City. 

Photo: HBO

“It was totally therapeutic,” Stone says, revealing that her childhood dog had died suddenly in Australia just a week before co-creators Ben Sinclair and Katja Blichfeld offered her the part. Stuck in New York, where she films Orange Is the New Black, Stone was unable to say goodbye. “I was completely devastated. I was just in love with her, the way you fall in love with dogs.” 

On a lighter note, the role also gave Stone another chance to change her appearance onscreen. Embracing her inner hipster, Beth comes armed with big grandma glasses, a visor and fanny pack. “I guess what you’re referring to is a lot of my own clothes. In my natural dress, I have a slight tendency toward the eccentric,” Stone says of the costumes, revealing one slight downfall: “But now I kind of have blown my cover on the subway. My quirky grandma glasses that keep me well disguised are not going to be so much of a disguise anymore.”