Nicole Nichols is a fictional character played by Natasha Lyonne on the Netflix series Orange Is the New Black. She is a recurring character in season one and a main character from season two onwards. Lyonne received an Emmy nomination in 2014 for the role.
|Nicole "Nicky" Nichols|
|Orange Is the New Black character|
Natasha Lyonne as Nicky Nichols
|First appearance||"I Wasn't Ready"
Season 1, episode 1
July 11, 2013
|Portrayed by||Natasha Lyonne
Carla Oudin (in flashback scenes)
|Full name||Nicole Nichols|
|Family||Marka Nichols (mother)
Red (Prison Mother)
Tricia Miller (Former Prison Sister, Deceased)
|Significant other(s)||Lorna Morello (complicated)|
Casting and backgroundEdit
Natasha Lyonne had intended to audition for the part of Lorna Morello but, according to Lyonne, "they wouldn’t let me [audition for Morello], because they already liked me for Nicky." Yael Stone, who had auditioned for the role of Nichols, was cast as Morello.
Lyonne feels that she can relate closely to Nichols' storyline as she has had experience of drug addiction. She says, "believe me, there's no shortage of things for me to draw on when it comes to Nicky's backstory". The scar that is visible on Nichols' chest during the series is a real scar from Lyonne's heart surgery in 2012. Orange Is the New Black is Lyonne's first time as a series regular.
Nichols is first seen in the premier episode. Early on, she becomes friends with the series' protagonist Piper Chapman (played by Taylor Schilling). Nichols has a sexual relationship with Lorna Morello which ends in the fifth episode because Morello says that she wants to remain loyal to her fiancé and complains that Nichols is "making her feel like a cave". Galina "Red" Reznikov (played by Kate Mulgrew) is a close friend and 'mother figure' to Nichols, however, the two have a disagreement when Red cuts off fellow inmate Tricia Miller (played by Madeline Brewer) and allows her to be sent to solitary confinement. Nichols retaliates against Red by reporting to a correctional officer exactly how Red manages to smuggle contraband into the prison. In the final episode of the season, Nichols is seen to be seducing Alex Vause (played by Laura Prepon), who is a love interest of Chapman.
Nichols engages in a competition with Carrie "Big Boo" Black (played by Lea DeLaria) to see who can have sex with the most women in the prison. Nichols spends a long time trying to seduce one of the correctional officers. She is not successful. Eventually, they both call it a draw at 36 points and engage in a 'cookie-eating contest' instead. The other major storyline for Nichols in this season involves heroin that she accepts from another inmate.
Nichols and Big Boo, attempt to sell their stash of heroin and they cooperate with correctional officer Joel Luschek, who finds a buyer. Nichols then says that it has been stolen but, in reality, she has hidden it for her own use. Other inmates Leanne Taylor (played by Emma Myles) and Angie Rice (played by Julie Lake) find the heroin and start taking it. Luschek discovers this and confiscates the drug. When assistant warden Joe Caputo (played by Nick Sandow) discovers the heroin, Luschek blames Nichols and Nichols is sent to a maximum security prison. This is Nichols' last appearance in the third season.
In the midst of season 4 Nichols can be seen in one episode as a maximum security inmate, along with Sophia Burset and Stella Carlin. Luschek repents of his actions against Nichols, and new inmate Judy King uses her connections to get her out of maximum security. She returns to minimum security where she is welcomed with a big party. Her drug problem persists, however.
Sarah Karlan of BuzzFeed praised the character's "impossibly quick wit" and "perfectly deadpan delivery". Rebekah Allen of SheWired had praise for both Lyonne and her character, "Natasha Lyonne is wonderful. Nicky is one of the best characters on Orange Is the New Black". MTV's Crystal Bell called Nichols a "fan-favorite" and "our beloved smart mouth" and expressed disappointment at the character's departure from the series.
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