Betty Gilpin: GLOW-ing Faces
"I [like to] make a lot of weird faces," GLOW'sBetty Gilpin said, explaining why in her acting career, she's felt boxed-in by roles that require her only to look beautiful. Her actor parents and theatrical upbringing contributed to her hyper-expressive face. "My mom used to play a lot of super character-y parts...so I was sort of raised to be a clown. Because of that, my jobs were fewer and farther-between, but the jobs I did get let me make bigger faces."
When Netflix's project based on the original 80s show Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestlingcame along, Gilpin saw an opportunity to put her training in the Theater of the Absurd to work. In her role as Debbie Egan, a former soap opera star whose wrestling alter ego is all-American hero Liberty Belle, Gilpin was allowed to be as big as she liked. "Wrestling really is kind of the highest form of theater. [The ladies of GLOW] really play to the mezzanine. They are making the craziest faces and shapes with their body. It felt very primal."
The ensemble cast of 14 women bonded over wrestling training before filming began. "We got to know each other wrestling in our pajamas basically a month before we started working together," she shared with host Ophira Eisenberg. Compared to the more traditional intimacy of a love scene, wrestling with someone is "intimate in a much better way," she continued. Despite falling in love with wrestling, Gilpin explained that it's a tough acting job. "It's pretty much the worst thing that you can do for your body. There's nothing fake about flipping over and landing on your back."
Despite the fact that Gilpin could probably take us down in a fight, we put her up to an Ask Me Another challenge. Betty played one of our favorite games: This, That, or the Other. Her categories were original GLOWWrestler, Phish song, or Essie nail polish name!
On preparing the role of Liberty Belle
I watched a lot of 1980s Miss America and Daytime Emmy acceptance speeches. Even though they've got the Toddlers and Tiaras smile, their eyes are crazy. I tried to tap into that.
On her 80s hairstyle
I got a body wave, like a real perm. You know, people chose that for their lives. The smell of a perm is this special kind of Chernobyl-grave soup smell.
On how she fell in love with the jam band Phish
I think I was a WASP with a good childhood who was looking to outsource pain and grit.
Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.