As an actor, Betty Gilpin says the gigs that “are painful to do are the ones where you feel like you’re only being asked to do five percent of what you can do” as a performer. Enter Mrs. Davis.
Peacock’s new series casts the GLOW alum as a nun named Simone who is intent on destroying the world’s most powerful artificial intelligence, aka Mrs. Davis. It’s not a spoiler to say that the series — created by Lost guru Damon Lindelof with The Big Bang Theory vet Tara Hernandez — was the opposite of painful because it activates all of Gilpin’s talents. It’s a genre-blending mashup (think drama and wacky comedy mixed with sci-fi and action) with a host of themes (best explained here) and Gilpin says she was more than ready.
“This job asks 100 percent of me and I immediately was like, ‘I’ve been waiting my whole life for this,’” she told The Hollywood Reporter on Thursday night while standing on the blue carpet inside L.A.’s DGA Theatre for the premiere. “It feels like a thousand genres in one and so it was like a cat toy for my brain, really.”
A big reason for that is while Simone may be a nun on a mission, she has a layered backstory that unfolds as the season goes to reveal a depth that Gilpin found thrilling. It would be spoiling the plot to go into detail, so best leave it to Gilpin to explain it in broad strokes. “I feel like I either play these hardened, sarcastic, sardonic or wry characters or characters who have their arms wide open and are vulnerable and hopeful. This character really is both,” Gilpin said. “She may have started as the first kind but her faith really changed her as a person. We see a lot of flashbacks to what she was like before she was a person of faith. For myself, not being a person of faith, it was an experiment to figure out what it would be like if I really believe in something this deeply and I found that really joyful.”
Speaking of deep beliefs, Lindelof told THR that the series “doesn’t work without Betty.” He had a relationship with the actress after she starred in The Hunt, the 2020 feature film that was written by Lindelof with Nick Cuse.
“When we first started talking about Simone, Betty was on the very early list but she was unavailable, I think, because she’d just had her daughter,” he recalled while standing next to Hernandez, whose initial script inspired the series. “That was a bummer but we moved on, and then when we wrote the pilot and set it up at Peacock, everyone started asking, ‘Who is Simone going to be?’ We kept saying that it was a Betty Gilpin-type if we could get her. The question became, ‘Well, has anyone asked her?’ So I emailed her and said, ‘Look, we won’t get our feelings hurt but this thing is perfect for you. Would you be willing to read the script?’”
Lindelof said Gilpin responded a day or two later and they set up a Zoom meeting: “The three of us ended up talking for like two hours and we started writing the show for her. We had a habit that needed to be altered quite intensely in order to accommodate Betty’s tremendous talent.”
Mrs. Davis premieres on April 20.
Source: The Hollywood Reporter