15 Things To Know About Netflix’s ‘The OA’

Above: Read on for a few fun facts about your latest Netflix obsession
Things To Know About Netflix’s ‘The OA’

Are you as obsessed with The OA? Confused with that ending? After dropping a thrilling trailer, Netflix’s latest original series debuted to some serious buzz as fans binge-watched the entire 8-episode sci-fi drama.  Haven’t watched? Here’s the deal. The OA is about a blind woman named Prairie Johnson (played by Brit Marling) who vanishes for seven years, and then returns to her Midwestern suburb with her sight mysteriously restored.

Here are 15 fun facts about Netflix’s The OA you probably didn’t know.

*Spoiler warning if you haven’t finished watching the series yet*

1. Netflix imposed a media blackout on The OA, preventing any interviews or reviews around the show until after it launched. Promotion for the series only really started just four days before the release date, on December 12 when they released the above trailer.

Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij
Above: Co-creators, Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij

2. Brit Marling, who plays Prairie Johnson, is the main creative force behind The OA, along with director Zal Batmanglij. The Netflix original is the pair’s first foray into television.

3. They have, however, garnered serious acclaim in the indie film scene. Marling has written, produced, and starred in two films made with Batmanglij: 2011’s indie thriller Sound of My Voice, and 2013’s spy drama The East.

4. Marling also made waves when she teamed up with Mike Cahill on Another Earth, in which she also starred. The film earned rave reviews the 27th Sundance Film Festival in January 2011.

5. The OA is produced by Plan B and Anonymous Content. Plan B is Brad Pitt’s production company, and Anonymous Content is responsible for shows like True Detective and Mr. Robot.

6. The OA was inspired by a woman Marling met at a party who’d had a near-death experience. That meeting led Marling and Batmanglij to research the phenomena that accompany near-death experiences – inkling instances of survivors returning with new, unusual skills like perfect pitch or sudden language fluency.

Nancy, Prairie and Abel
Above: Nancy (Alice Krige), Prairie (Marling) and Abel (Scott Wilson)

7. Familiar faces? You may recognize Scott Wilson, the actor who plays Prairie’s adoptive father Abel. Wilson plays Hershel on The Walking Dead. Prairie’s adoptive mother is played by Alice Krige, who is known for playing the Borg Queen in the Star Trek franchise.

Emory Cohen plays Homer
Above: Homer (Emory Cohen)

8. In The OA, Prairie is imprisoned in a remote underground laboratory with four other people who have each had their own NDE (near death experience). One of them is Brooklyn’s Emory Cohen, who plays Homer. You may also remember Cohen from The Place Beyond the Pines, and from NBC’s hit musical drama, Smash.

9. Phyllis Smith, who is best known for playing Phyllis Vance in The Office and for her critically acclaimed voice role as Sadness in Disney Pixar movie Inside Out, plays teacher Betty Broderick-Allen.

Dr. Hunter Hap
Above: Prairie with Dr. Hunter Hap (Jason Issacs)

10. Another familiar face? Dr. Hunter Hap, the scientist who takes Prairie hostage for all those years, is played by British actor Jason Issacs. You probably recognize him as Lucius Malfoy, the patriarch of a pure-blood Wizarding family, in the Harry Potter films.

Above: Buck
Above: Buck Vu (Ian Alexander)

11. Up and coming actor Ian Alexander plays high school student Buck Vu, an Asian-American trans boy. Alexander auditioned for the role after a post about an open casting call for young trans actors circulated on Tumblr. The casting call specified that The OA was looking to cast a fourteen or fifteen-year-old Asian transgender actor as a series regular.

Above: Steve Winchell (Patrick Gibson)
Above: Prairie with Steve Winchell (Patrick Gibson)

12. Patrick Gibson (The Tudors, What Richard Did) plays Steve Winchell, the deeply troubled bully who strikes up a friendship with Prairie. Marling said she was deeply impressed with the Irish actor when he came to New York to discuss the part. “He had this notebook in his lap labelled ‘Steve Winchell,’” Marling says. “He opened it and showed me page after page of watercolour drawings he’d done, playlists for the kinds of music he would listen to as Steve. It was the kind of notebook that I would have made to prepare for a part I had gotten already—he had made it just to come audition. The depth of work that he had done on that character was stunning.”

13. The physical movements in the series were choreographed by Ryan Heffington. The cast spent a long time training because they were largely a group of non-dancers.

14. Sooo… You’re ready to talk about that ending? Let’s go! When asked by EW if there was any possibility that Prairie was actually telling the truth about her abduction, co-creator Zal Batmanglij said, “I don’t know if that’s true. It is a story, so anything is possible within a story. ” Marling told EW the whole show was leading up to the end moment. “The thing that was in the DNA was that the story gets tested, that they believe in this story so much, that they’re skeptical at first, but then lean into it and believe, and it really unites them. And then, of course, the bottom drops out. I think it was always about the final moments being about whether there’s something that her story contains that tells the truth for them, that mattered—whether or not every aspect of it was true. And that’s really true [as a filmmaker], you make something and then it doesn’t belong to you anymore. It’s up to the audience’s interpretation of what feels true and important and meaningful to them, and what doesn’t,” she said.

15. Will there be another season? Marling says that the writers have everything figured out if things continue. No word from Netflix yet… but, stay tuned.

Tags: Brad Pitt, Netflix, The OA

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