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
. “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. 


“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.”