Welcome to Admiring Betty Gilpin, your online resource dedicated to the amazing Betty Gilpin. You may better remember Betty for her award nominated role in GLOW. But her career also expands to other acting projects such as Nurse Jackie, Gaslit, The Hunt, Stuber, Masters of Sex, Roar, Isn't it Romantic, and most recently, Mrs. Davis. This fansite is under construction and hopes to become a comprehensive resource dedicated to Betty Gilpin and her career. We are absolutely respectful of Betty and her privacy and are proudly a paparazzi-free site!!!
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2018 – Vanity Fair

Katey Rich

June 15, 2018

Article taken from Vanity Fair

When we meet Debbie (Betty Gilpin) in the first episode of GLOW, she is the devoted and funny friend of our ostensible heroine, Ruth (Alison Brie)—willing to pick Ruth up after an embarrassing mugging and let her swear in front of her infant. (“Of course, you can curse in front of him, he’s a fucking baby.”) But it doesn’t take long for Debbie to undergo a dramatic offscreen transformation. She learns that Ruth has, in fact, been having an affair with her husband, which leads Debbie to storm into a rehearsal for Ruth’s new TV series in a fit of rage—her five-month-old perched on her hip while she screams “You fucking cunt!”

The beauty of Debbie is that there’s no contradiction in those two things: the newly single mother trying to provide for her son and the enraged, scorned friend, brought by wild circumstance into the wrestling ring opposite the woman who broke her heart. Beautiful and blonde, Debbie—like Ruth—has spent a Hollywood career enduring failed auditions and people who only see her looks; having recently left a role on a soap opera to raise her family, she thought she’d moved past all that for good. But the first season of GLOW tracks Debbie’s realization that she can want more, leaning into her wrestling persona of Liberty Bell—another beauty who deploys a steely, terrifying strength when she needs it most.

“I think the two events of becoming a mother and having Ruth betray her sort of caused Debbie’s life to explode,” Gilpin said. “But I think Debbie lost some things in the life explosion that she wanted to lose anyway.”

Though GLOW creators Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch were open to a wide range of people in casting, they had a pretty clear sense of who Debbie was from the beginning. “I think we had a lot of the character figured out on the page,” Mensch said in a phone call. “I think what Betty beautifully brought to it was her rage was so large that only a wrestling ring could contain it.”

Flahive and Mensch knew Gilpin from their work on Nurse Jackie, where Gilpin played the brusque Dr. Carrie Roman for 34 episodes, as well as the New York theater scene. “We asked her to audition knowing that she was the type of person we were thinking of,” Mensch said. “We knew she was someone who was incredibly smart and incredibly weird and an incredibly talented actress who could go Greek and go tiny nuance.”

Gilpin, the daughter of actors, studied theater and spent 10 years primarily on the New York stage; she sums up most of her film and TV work in that period as “I cried and died in every show you could cry and die on in New York.” She considered herself “hyper-realistic” about working in film and television: “I thought, I’ll feed my soul in this play, and then get health insurance from this multicam about computers in space or something.”

She auditioned for Piper on Orange Is the New Black—a series created by GLOW’s executive producer Jenji Kohan—and “a million things that did not go my way.” She fully expected GLOW to be more of the same—particularly in the later stages of the audition process, when she was paired with Alison Brie. Brie had flown to Toronto for the occasion, where Gilpin was in production on American Gods. “It was so my social-anxiety nightmare, that fancy Alison Brie had to fly to Toronto to come read with me,” Gilpin said. “I had never met her; I didn’t know if she was going to be pissed that she had to do that. She literally held her arms open to me the second we met.”

As Brie remembers the audition, “It was one of those meetings where we were already falling in love with each other, and we wanted the part so badly but didn’t want to let ourselves hope it would happen.” In a room with casting assistants, Brie and Gilpin choreographed what would eventually be their knockdown fight in the pilot episode—“She’s dragging me across the floor, we were like sweating,” Brie said. Once they were cast, the actresses went to a Pat Benatar and Melissa Etheridge concert together in Los Angeles, knowing they had to build the bond between Debbie and Ruth we see in just two scenes in the pilot before their friendship explodes. “It was important to both of us that you feel like Ruth and Debbie really love each other, so the stakes are really high,” Brie said. “The audience wants them to get back together despite Ruth’s horrible indiscretion.”

To conjure the “Greek-level” rage Debbie feels, both in that initial blowup and throughout the season, Gilpin brought herself back to her theater training. “In college, you get to play the queens in Shakespeare plays and scream as loud as possible and have a monologue where your baby has been ripped apart in a war,” she said. “I’m going to try to pretend that’s Debbie, even though she’s standing with you at the DMV. Her brain has the craziest, most horrifying imagery flashing through her all the time.”

On the set, to step into the “black river of churning insanity” that is Debbie’s brain, Gilpin keeps a few carefully selected photos on her phone. “I have a picture of a weird jellyfish or a black duck—just things to take me out of second-guessing actress place and get back to the stoned girl in wizard sleeves that I was in acting school, who didn’t care.”

Flahive and Mensch also used some of Gilpin’s own history as an actress to build Debbie’s backstory, as a former soap star who, in Gilpin’s words, “wasn’t using 95 percent of her capability as a person.” Flahive remembers Gilpin’s stories about how “if you don’t make a small cry face and eat a salad, you’ll be somehow penalized for being the biggest version of yourself.” Gilpin herself remembers a lot of failed auditions for characters with “a sexy Minnie Mouse voice and a beret and a ukulele and novelty overalls, and she eats Cheerios for dinner adorably. I always would audition for those parts, and just seem like a 45-year-old in a powdered wig reading the Declaration of Independence.”

Much of that history went into Debbie—though Mensch is careful to note, “There are many parts of Debbie that are parts of Betty, but we kept those boundaries firm.”

“I think she was treating herself like a Pasadena housewife who stares into the dish-soap bubbles and has stopped asking the big questions to herself,” Gilpin said of the Debbie we first meet in the pilot. When she finds out about her husband’s affair and steps into the wrestling ring, Debbie realizes, “I’ve kind of been treating myself like a tertiary character in my own story. I’m not exposition wife; I’m fucking Robert De Niro.”

The wrestling match in the pilot is gloriously awkward and authentic, made even more so by Debbie’s infant son watching from the sidelines. Despite all the famous maxims to never work with babies, Flahive said, “we absolutely knew that scene was in it, from the very start. The only thing we were worried about in that scene—if she’s screaming ‘you fucking cunt’ is the baby going to start crying?”

As it turned out, the baby—Liam, who played Randy along with his twin brother, Charlie—was a total pro. “Backstage behind the flats of the set before I come in, I was holding him, doing the weirdest warm-up stuff and the stupidest-sounding, worst college-theater pelvic-floor tilting,” Gilpin said. “He was completely humorless and quiet, and so respectful, and so sweet. He never cried once!” For Season 2, Liam and Charlie have been replaced by an older set of twins. “These poor babies in Season 2, they had a little bit harder of a time,” Gilpin said. “I love them dearly. They’re all my sons.”

As GLOW continues into its second season, premiering on Netflix June 29, it will follow Debbie’s growth, both as herself and her deranged beauty-queen persona of Liberty Bell. But the series is also a love story, of sorts, between Ruth and Debbie—the central couple whom the audience desperately wants to see reunited, as impossible as the characters may believe it to be.

“I don’t think she and Mark had one of the great loves of the century,” Gilpin said, referring to Betty and her husband, played by Rich Sommer. “But she and Ruth do. I think that both Ruth and Debbie, as actresses and young women, had to try on a million identities—if it’s sexy lawyer at this audition, or if it’s laughing, polite plus-one at this office Christmas party. You really have to cling to those female friends who really know your seven-year-old goofy self, because that person gets buried along the way of trying on all these different male-gaze hats. It’s helpful to have someone on the way who says. ‘Don’t worry, I know who you are.’”

Script developed by Never Enough Design