“Orange Is the New Black” may have released its entire third season to Netflix in June, but fans of the Jenji Kohan-created dramedy are already counting down the days until they can binge-watch Season 4 of the beloved series. But until audiences are reunited with the ladies of Litchfield, Michael Harney, who plays correctional officer and counselor Sam Healy on the Emmy Award-winning series, gave fans something to look forward to when he spoke to International Business Times about what viewers should expect next season. And according to the actor, fans should anticipate new, exciting drama to unfold behind bars in the upcoming installment.
International Business Times: Congratulations on another, amazing season of "Orange Is the New Black." And for the renewal of a fourth -- very exciting!
Michael Harney: Oh, yeah. Very exciting. It’s been a great privilege for me.
IBTimes: Yes, and what a role you’ve played. So many layers of Sam Healy have been peeled back since the series premiered. What can we expect from Sam come Season 4? Is there a side we haven’t seen yet?
Harney: Obviously I can’t give you any spoilers, but I think that the writing is going to be on the same par -- if not better. And the good thing about Jenji is she never does the same thing. She’s constantly creating, the writing team is constantly creating -- bringing new stuff to the table. So I don’t know where we’re going to go. It’s just going to be another ride.
IBTimes: What storyline would you like to see play out in the fourth season?
Harney: I really enjoy the scenes I had with Red (Kate Mulgrew) in Season 3. So I’m hoping we have a chance to work together again. Artistically that’s very fulfilling for both of us, I believe, so there’s that. But I approach it like it’s a blank canvas.
IBTimes: I was also looking forward to seeing how your relationship with Red will play out. Were you surprised that your characters had chemistry in Season 3?
Harney: Did it surprise me? No. I just felt, "Wow. This is really cool." The thing that turns me on the most about the show is the fact that I get to -- what you said at the very beginning of our talk today -- there’s so many layers that I get the opportunity to explore and they’re really endless.
IBTimes: When I first saw sparks fly between Healy and Red, I initially thought the head cook had some sort of agenda. But it looked like their emotions developed into something real, something sincere, which I specifically noticed during a scene from Morello’s (Yael Stone) wedding. Would you agree that their relationship is genuine?
Harney: Yeah, that’s obvious from the scene you just mentioned. There’s a lot of depth in the relationship, there’s a lot of real... there’s a soulfulness there.
IBTimes: We got to see Healy, Red and the mail-order bride together -- and I love that you describe your relationship with Red as soulful, because I’m wondering how Katia (Sanja Danilovic) will feel about her husband having feelings for another women. Perhaps jealously?
Harney: Again, I can project all I want, but part of the beauty of what I do is that I just go with what comes down the pike in terms of story. I don’t know what’s going to happen with Katia, I don’t know what her response will be, but once I receive the way [the writers] want to go with it, I'll know how to live through it because [not once] have they not given me a very truthful through line of action to play -- [not once].
IBTimes: I’m also interested to see what will happen between Healy and Birdie (Stephanie Blake) come Season 4, considering they had a falling out during the last installment.
Harney: Yes, she’s wonderful. That was a really nice segment of life there. And I don’t know. We’ll see. You’re good, though. You keep trying to get these spoilers out of me.
IBTimes: Well, rest assured, my next question will be spoiler-free. What do you think your character Sam would say about same-sex marriage being declared legal in the United States? You think he would have an opinion on this?
Harney: I think he’d have trouble with it. I think he’d have difficulty with it. He doesn’t really understand it, and it really comes from a lack of understanding, you know? Just for the record, me … myself, you know, I have three words to say and that is lesbian request accepted! But for Sam, it’s a completely different thing -- it’s a character. We’re not the people that we play. There needs to be a distinction. So for Sam … I think Sam would have trouble with it. I think he would have trouble with it based upon him not being able to understand it. There’s a lot of circumstances in his life that are really kind of knotted -- not going along the way he wants them to go, so he wants to get things into a way he can handle [them]; he’s trying to organize [them] in a controlled way. Once that happens, then he can say, “I get it. I can do this.”
I think that’s a good thing, too, conscious or unconscious, that people hear the show and see Sam -- I hope it’s clear to them on some level that prejudice against lifestyle preferences, sexual preference, any type of preference is really based in ignorance and based in confusion. I hope that’s clear. I’m kind of banking on it, because it's one of those things as an artist I’m trying to convey.
IBTimes: In addition to the show tackling topics that really needed to be discussed, like LGBT issues, Season 3 also tickled our fancies with pop culture references -- like the arrest of the Martha Stewart-inspired character. That was one of my favorite scenes. Which moment from the previous season really stood out to you?
Harney: The scene with Red where she comes behind my desk and she puts her hand on my face. There was so many things that happened in that scene for me that were completely unexpected. I wound up getting very emotional. I had no idea that was going to happen. And then it just flowed throughout the whole shooting of the scene. So again, artistically, it was a really cool thing. And those unguarded moments happen when you’re really [immersed] in doing art with people that are dedicated to being there with you. That was a scene that I enjoyed.
IBTimes: Have you happened to catch this season’s “True Detective”? I know you were in the first installment.
Harney: You know, I very rarely watch TV. I just don’t have the time. But I would like to see it. I would love to see [the show]. Nic [Pizzolatto] was really great to work with; I hope I work with him again. I tried actually. I wanted to become part of this ensemble of "True Detective 2," but they said, "No, no we're not using anybody who was in the first one." But when you get to work with a good writer, like him, you really [try] to keep it going. So hopefully I'll work with Nic again. He’s the real deal in terms of being a writer.
Season 3 of "Orange Is the New Black" is currently streaming on Netflix.