‘Poker Face’ Star Cherry Jones on Tackling Horror With Natasha Lyonne for Episode 8

[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Poker Face, Season 1, Episode 8, “The Orpheus Syndrome.”]

Poker Face goes full horror in its latest installment, “The Orpheus Syndrome,” thanks in part to Cherry Jones who takes on the integral role of Laura in the Natasha Lyonne-directed entry.

The Hitchcock-type thriller sees Jones’s Laura do whatever she can to protect her career at the helm of a monster movie studio. After her soon-to-be ex-husband, Max (Tim Russ) discovers a long-hidden secret within the reels of archival behind-the-scenes footage, Laura makes a life-or-death decision by poisoning him. In the footage from 40 years prior, Laura is seen turning off a safety light that had been put in place to help an actress filming an underwater sequence.

As a result, the girl died, but without the knowledge of Laura’s role in the ordeal, it was her and Max’s former partner Arthur (Nick Nolte) who blamed himself for the apparent accident. “She thought she was just saving money,” Jones defends her character, before admitting, “If [Laura] had taken it one step further, she was gonna kill.”

Cherry Jones in 'Poker Face'

(Credit: Peacock)

“So, I mean, did she start out as a murderer? Was [the actress] the first person she murdered? Who knows,” Jones says. “But I do think that murder because it so affected that two men most important to her, it was the beginning of the corrosion.” While Arthur retreated to his own barn to make prosthetic horror-centric creations in the 40 years between the offending event and his reunion with Laura, she knocks on his door asking for a favor.

After she poisoned Max, he jumped from her balcony purposely mutilating his face to prevent Laura from retrieving the digital copy of the damning footage from their past. Playing on Arthur’s sympathies, she gets him to create a life-like copy of his face and uses it to unlock the laptop containing the footage.

Of course, BS detector Charlie (Lyonne) isn’t far from the chaos as an assistant in Arthur’s shop. Unfortunately, Arthur makes a similar mistake to Max by paying Laura a visit to inform her that he’s aware of her misdeed with the young actress 40 years ago. While he vows to never reveal the secret, he too is poisoned and killed by his former colleague.

Cherry Jones in 'Poker Face'

(Credit: Peacock)

In an effort to deliver justice, Charlie recruits archival footage worker Raoul (Luis Guzmán) to help publicly reveal Laura’s true nature. Thankfully, Arthur had saved some portions of the original film reels, allowing Charlie and Raoul to run the footage during a company gathering. Unbeknownst to them, Laura was already beginning to lose her mind and the footage sends her over the edge as visions of Max and Arthur haunt her to the point of death when she plunges to the ground from a great height.

“Her need for that company and that power… that corporation has become her lover,” Jones points out. “The men are now just nuisances who have always weighted her down and she’s had to do everything to protect them. And she’s had it. And so she murders without remorse until it all catches up with her.”

Ultimately, Max and Arthur’s biggest mistake is believing “she was still sane enough that their lives were not in danger,” Jones says. Along with taking on a horror element, Jones worked closely with star Lyonne as she directed the installment which she co-wrote with Rian Johnson and Alice Ju.

“The very first day we had scenes together, I was so intimidated because when you sit across from Natasha Lyonne and she is just blasting you with that effortlessness she has as an actor and that charm and that intelligence and that depth, you don’t quite know even where to look,” Jones shares. “She’s so blinding.”

“She’s extraordinary in both the acting profession and the directing profession. But I think she prefers directing,” Jones notes. “I know for Natasha to have Nick Nolte in this one was a very remarkable event in her life to that she got to direct him. They were so beautiful together in those scenes,” Jones adds. “You could tell they just adored each other.”

What did you think of “The Orpheus Syndrome” episode? Let us know in the comments section, below, and don’t miss more Poker Face as the series continues on Peacock.

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