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The Transformation Of Laura Prepon From That 70's Show To Now

Over the course of its eight seasons, That '70s Show remained a major hit, with numerous members of the show's main ensemble, such as Topher Grace, Mila Kunis, and Ashton Kutcher, landing major roles based on the strength of their work on the show. When the sitcom came to an end in 2006, fans of the series were curious to see what kind of career the performers would go on to have, and while some have chosen to continue in comedy, others have stretched their wings.

One of the essential cast members of the show was Laura Prepon. Playing Donna Pinciotti, next-door neighbor and longtime love interest of Eric Forman (Topher Grace) Prepon deftly balanced both the comedic and dramatic requirements of the character, making it impossible to imagine the show without her. When her 200 episode run on That '70s Show came to an end, Prepon did not rest on her laurels, and this is how she's transformed from the series finale to now.

Prepon went from a comedy to a drama

Laura Prepon remained on television after That '70s Show, jumping immediately to the ABC drama October Road, which made its premiere in March 2007 and ran for two seasons before being canceled. The show revolves around author Nick Garrett, who returns to his hometown of Knights Ridge, Massachusetts, after leaving somewhat unexpectedly a decade ago and discovering how the people there and their feelings toward him have changed. On the show, Prepon plays Hannah Daniels, Nick's former flame, who is a single mother to a 10-year-old son named Sam. Sam's father is unknown at the beginning of the show, and Sam's peanut allergy, which Nick also shares, makes Nick believe Sam is his biological son, convincing him to stay in town.

Nick tries to reconnect with Hannah, but her resentment over Nick's abrupt departure causes her to rebuff him. Working as a veterinary technician, Hannah's shown to be wistful for the life she could have had if she had gone traveling and attended college. She's also in a relationship with Ray Cataldo, who was an antagonist to Nick ten years prior, and as the show goes on, Hannah and Ray get engaged. However, after initially dismissing Nick's assertions that he was Sam's biological father, inĀ the series finale, included as a DVD extra following the show's cancellation, Hannah runs away from her wedding with Ray and tells Nick that he is in fact Sam's biological father, with a time jump revealing that the two are in a relationship once again.

Prepon returned to comedy, this time in a lead role

Following the cancellation of October Road, Laura Prepon had a number of notable guest turns on major shows, including In Plain Sight, Medium, and House. One of her most notable guest turns was on Castle, where she played actress Natalie Rhodes, who had been tapped to play Nikki Heat, the written version of main character Kate Beckett. To prepare for her role, Rhodes shadowed Castle and Beckett, the latter's scoffing of Rhodes soon being turned on its head when Rhodes delivers a pitch-perfect imitation of Beckett.

Prepon also showed up in another popular sitcom, How I Met Your Mother, as Karen, Ted's college girlfriend who cheats on him. Karen and Ted reconnect years later and begin dating again, until Karen discovers Robin's earring in Ted's bed, leading to the discovery that Lily has been sabotaging Ted's relationships for a long time. When Karen declares that Ted has to break off his friendship with Lily, Ted breaks up with Karen instead.

Laura Prepon's next major role came in 2012 on another sitcom, this time on NBC where she took the lead role of Chelsea Newman on the show Are You There, Chelsea?. Prepon starred on the show alongside Lauren Lapkus and Ali Wong as a woman working at a sports bar and trying to navigate life. The show was based on Are You There, Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea, a memoir written by comedian Chelsea Handler about life in her early twenties, and it showed Prepon's Chelsea dealing with dating woes and helping her friends out. The series ran for 12 episodes and was canceled after its first season.

Prepon made the jump from network to streaming

Laura Prepon was not knocked down by the cancellation of Are You There, Chelsea?, as she moved from network shows to streaming, signing on to the Netflix series Orange Is The New Black, which ran for seven seasons, ending in 2019. In the prison drama, Prepon played Alex Vause, the ex-girlfriend of the show's protagonist Piper Chapman. It is due to Alex that Piper lands in prison, as Alex was a heroin smuggler who first convinces Piper to join her then names Piper during her testimony, leading to Piper's arrest.

During their time in prison together, Alex reveals more of herself to Piper, admitting to previously being addicted to heroin and to having been on anti-depressants before. After double-crossing Piper, Alex gains her freedom from prison but ends up back behind bars when Piper arranges for Alex to get caught violating her parole. In season 4, an attempt on her life causes Alex to kill a corrupt corrections officer, burying him in the prison garden, and this murder haunts Alex even though she's not caught. Alex and Piper continue to have an on-again, off-again relationship that culminates in the two having a prison wedding at the end of season 6. The series culminates in Alex ending up transferred to Ohio after she breaks off an affair she was having with a corrections officer. While Alex tries to break up with Piper as a result, Piper moves to Ohio alongside Alex and the two remain together at the end of the show.

Laura Prepon, in addition to her professional career, has had a number of developments in her off-screen life as well. She has given birth to two children, one in 2017 and one in 2020, and married fellow actor Ben Foster in 2018. She has also veered into directing, even taking the reins on three episodes of Orange Is The New Black, opening a number of possibilities for what turn her career will take next.