On this week’s podcast, the actress Betty Gilpin reads “A Lost Child, but Not Mine,” about a woman who imagines the course her life might have taken had she chosen to see her pregnancy to term.
Kassi Underwood, the writer, expanded her essay into the memoir “May Cause Love.” Follow her on Twitter.
Ms. Gilpin stars in the Netflix series “GLOW,” about the outsiders who get cast in a women’s wrestling show. You can find her on Twitter.
Today (July 21) Betty is celebrating her birthday. Admiring Betty Gilpin would like to wish a Happy Birthday to Betty!
Recently, W Magazine interviewed Betty along with her GLOW co-star, Alison Brie. There’s also a stunning new photoshoot featured in the interview! Check it out below.
In reimagining the familiar tropes of summer blockbusters—namely, D.C. superheroes and glamorous secret agents—Wonder Woman and the forthcoming Atomic Blonde seem intent on reminding audiences of the appeal of strong, powerful, and intelligent women. On a smaller scale, GLOW, the new hit series on Netflix, is accomplishing this same feat through a rather unexpected lens: professional wrestling. Inspired by the 80’s female pro-wrestling show Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, GLOW, created by Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch and co-produced by Jenji Kohan (Orange Is the New Black), follows a group of women with no previous experience who sign on to wrestle each other in a live TV show. Buoyed by their newfound physical skills and wrestling alter egos, they unlock untapped reservoirs within themselves and form bonds with their unlikely co-stars.
Emerging from this series as the ultimate platonic power couple are the actresses Alison Brie and Betty Gilpin, who play best-friends-turned-wrestling nemeses Ruth and Debbie, respectively. A struggling actress with a predilection for Shakespeare and Tennessee Williams, Ruth stumbles into the GLOW ring only to find herself pitted against her best friend Debbie, a soap star and new mother, whom she has betrayed in the series’s pilot.
Here, Brie, of Community and Mad Men fame and Gilpin, known for her work on Nurse Jackie and Masters of Sex, discuss body slamming, leotards, and body awareness (warning: there are spoilers for those who haven’t made it past episode 8).
The ‘GLOW’ and ‘American Gods’ actor on leaving New York, coming back, and her relationship with ‘Law & Order.’
In Early Works, we talk to artists young and old about the jobs and life experiences that led them to their current moment. Today, it’s actor Betty Gilpin, who appears in Netflix’s sensational wrestling dramedy GLOW as well as the first season of Starz’s Neil Gaiman adaptation American Gods.
I grew up in the South Street Seaport—the only occupied building on the block. I remember at four years old, eating my Cheerios and watching a couple gangsters coming out of the building across the street after gambling all night long. My memory has illustrated that they were dressed as Frank Sinatra as Nathan Detroit—in a purple pinstripe suit—but it could’ve been two homeless guys. At the time, though, I was like, It’s Frank Sinatra!
We moved to Roxbury, Connecticut—80 miles north of the city—when I was nine years old. I was furious with my parents. I was like, “How am I supposed to become an actress on a dirt road?” But I fell in love with the woods and the country, and I became a weird girl who looks at bugs. The bugs that I encounter living in an apartment in Brooklyn are different. One morning, I woke up with a bug crawling across my face that had about 2 million legs. I enjoy the wildlife of New England but not the wildlife of New York.
My parents are both actors who did primarily stage work in New York and then regional theater throughout New England. I’d go with them to rehearsals and performances, sit in the stage manager’s booth, memorize their lines, and give other actors notes afterward. I thought I was being so helpful, but if I was doing a play now and an eight-year-old gave me a note, I would probably be put in jail for my response.
My first acting gig was on Law & Order: Criminal Intent when I was abot 18 or 19. I was alive for the first two seconds of the episode, and then I died. Fran Drescher played my mom, and I was found dead and naked in an oil drum. A year later, I was cast on Criminal Intent as a crack addict, and I was like, “You guys know I died a year ago, right?” They were like, “No one cares at all.”
Being on Law & Order was like fan fiction for me. I grew up watching it with my parents saying, “Oh, that’s so-and-so,” and, “Here’s a personal detail about their lives.” Those shows are full of amazing New York actors—and a lot of them are primarily theater actors, so seeing them on-screen is always a treat.
Ghost Town was one of my first movies. The hair and makeup was really complicated—I ‘d see the shot I was in that day, and I was a little white blur in the top corner of the frame. It was cool to film something in New York and to run around chasing Ricky Gervais. The difference between film and TV is that, with film, it feels like you have less time to stretch and find your character. Working on season of TV, you have four months to explore the character, and the pressure is off a little bit more.
I’ve been very lucky to have gotten two jobs—American Gods and GLOW—that let me go to the craziest places of my brain. They’re places that usually aren’t allowed to be shown on-screen—too big, too broad, or it doesn’t make sense. I’m often told to do another take and “just say the words this time.” No one told me to do that on either of these jobs.
For a lot of people, your 20s are about either learning to not have your arms constantly open or knowing when to fold your arms to protect yourself. If you’re a person who has your arms folded to the world, to know when to open them. For me, it was about finding the moments in life where it was OK to fold my arms or hold them up. Being more tired than I was at 19 helps with that. I don’t care as much about what people think of me because I’m just too tired.
GQ spoke to Betty about her newest project GLOW! Check out the interview below.
The actress you’ve seen everywhere talks about training for Netflix’s hit wrestling show and its refreshingly human-sized roles for women.
Betty Gilpin is doing something right. After a number of appearances on Dick Wolf vehicles like Law & Order and SVU and Criminal Intent—the apparent ritual hazing of every young actor coming out of New York—Gilpin has found herself firmly in the upper echelon of prestige television.
That was her at the tail-end of Nurse Jackie. And again, butting heads with Lizzy Caplan in Masters of Sex. And again, on American Gods, where she doesn’t actually play a god and yet manages to steal every scene she’s in. But where she’s really captivated us is on Netflix’s GLOW, as soap opera star-turned-stay-at-home mom-turned-wrestler Debbie Eagan, a.k.a. Liberty Belle. How’s she feeling now that her first foray into the world of pro wrestling is now available to the masses? Pretty sore, actually.
GQ: I was very, very excited when I first heard that GLOW was going to be coming to Netflix in this capacity.
Betty Gilpin: I’m so glad!
The daughter of actor parents, Betty Gilpin has wound up channeling the medical profession — in recurring roles as Dr. Carrie Roman in Showtime’s “Nurse Jackie” and as researcher Nancy Leveau on “Masters of Sex.” But she trades in her lab coat for wrestling tights in Netflix’s “GLOW,” which revolves around a troupe of women grapplers.
This story first appeared in the July 11, 2017 issue of Variety.
What attracted you to the role of Debbie in “GLOW”?
I related to Debbie a lot. Debbie is a former soap opera actress who felt like she was using only 10% of what she could do as an actor. The world she was in valued things about her that were going to expire, like her looks, and as they’re expiring she’s in a place of ‘What will the world value me for? The Barbie-ness is fading.’ I think at that moment she finds her inner rage, and that power is far more valuable than Barbie Bucks.
How did you prepare for a role like this?
We did a month of wrestling training with Chavo Guerrero Jr. of WWE, and then we trained throughout shooting — five months total. [Co-star] Alison [Brie] and I did all the moves you see in the series. Being the taller, curvier person to Ali, I did a lot of lifting her, throwing her. We learned body slams, head scissors, sunset flip. … It’s really a trust exercise. The victim is doing just as much work as the aggressor. It’s like couples therapy; everyone should do it.
Tell us your initial meet-cute with acting? Did you have an early mentor?
I had many mentors. I grew up watching my parents do plays. The actress Jade Smith-Cameron was in the first play I did and she was so kind to me and made me feel like even though this profession can be scary, it still always involves magic if you let it. And watching Edie Falco be the quiet power she is was really inspirational.
Everyone says they have a book in them. What would your book be about?
My book would be about a person that I feel I am on the inside, which is like a combination of Elaine Stritch and Shirley Temple. So maybe it’s like if Shirley Temple was 102 years old … and a drinker … and was posted up at a nightly cabaret show in Tulsa — the dark cabaret side of Shirley Temple. And she has to solve a [criminal ] case, so it’s a thriller.
Things you didn’t know about Betty Gilpin
AGE: 30 BIRTHPLACE: New York ALMA MATER: Fordham University FAVORITE SPORT: Wrestling FIRST QUESTION SHE’D ASK ON WAKING UP AFTER HAVING BEEN CRYOGENICALLY FROZEN FOR 100 YEARS: Was Donald Trump alive for his downfall?
The Netflix series’ co-creators, along with stars Alison Brie and Betty Gilpin, look ahead for THR.
[Warning: This story contains spoilers from the entire first season of Netflix’s GLOW.]
The first season of GLOW was designed to feel like an origin story.
Netflix’s female wrestling series took its time introducing and forming its characters — both in and out of the ring — during its first nine episodes. The story built to a big finale in the tenth and final half-hour: creating the pilot episode for what would go on to become the first-ever female wrestling TV series.
I’ve added two scans of Betty for Marie Claire UK (July 2017).