Betty Gilpin wrestled her way to the top in Emmy voters’ minds for her performance in Season 1 of “GLOW.” Out of the Netflix comedy’s sprawling ensemble, she was the only one singled out for a nomination last year for playing former soap opera actress Debbie Eagan, a.k.a. Liberty Belle. Gilpin continued to do great work in Season 2 as Debbie negotiated her way into a producer role on the “GLOW” TV show and struggled to maintain a civil relationship with her best friend/husband’s mistress, Ruth (Alison Brie). Gilpin is thrilled to be playing such a complex woman. “They so brilliantly write Debbie as finding her power in wrestling,” Gilpin explains, “and finding ways in which that bleeds into her finding her power in her professional life and in her personal life and ways in which she is still a complete mess.” Watch our exclusive video interview above.
As much as Gilpin loves the writing on “GLOW,” she was admittedly disappointed in Debbie for one Season 2 choice in particular. After Ruth denies the inappropriate sexual advances of the network president, Debbie is angry with her friend, thinking it would have been an opportunity to save the show. “When I first read that scene I was very disappointed and angry and I didn’t wanna do that scene,” Gilpin reveals. However, she was conscious that it was important to “tell all sides of this story.” This provided us a glimpse “into how strong Debbie’s confidence is but how low her self-worth is,” Gilpin elaborates. “I think that her seeing that Ruth made that decision made her replay in her head moments where she didn’t think that was an option to say ‘No’ or walk out.”
Debbie and Ruth have certainly hurt each other (most extremely, when Debbie breaks Ruth’s ankle in the ring) but being part of the “GLOW” TV show essentially forces them to be together on an intimate level. “They really know each other more than anyone else in this world,” Gilpin observes, “and I think they’re both very lonely in different ways in their own lives and wish that they could turn to their best friend and say, ‘here are the ways I’m hurting.’”
That close relationship naturally flows over into Gilpin and Brie themselves. “The bond that Alison and I have is pretty intense. I love her so much,” Gilpin says, admitting she’s never quite had this kind of a connection with another actor before this. “Working with Alison, it feels like we’re doing 10 different scenes at once, holding each other’s hand while shivving each other under the table.” While Brie was overlooked at the Emmys last year, she is hoping her co-star gets one for Season 2, quipping she should really get “all of the awards that exist” for playing Ruth.
The whole “GLOW” experience has been life-changing for Gilpin, who says she feels as though she is on a “parallel track with Debbie’s empowerment journey.” She recalls her high school theater teacher telling her she was only a good actor “from the neck up,” suggesting she didn’t know what to do with the rest of her body. A physical show like “GLOW,” with its Emmy-winning stunt work, has compelled Gilpin to open herself up more and be less self-conscious about looking a certain way. “Using my body in this weird, crazy, borderline dangerous way in this job has sort of been a training process for my brain, of, ‘Okay, you’ve been telling yourself your worth is this and it’s not.’”
Heading into Season 3 of “GLOW,” Debbie and the other Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling are going to Las Vegas, adapting their show to a floor revue. Gilpin can’t say much about what’s to come, but she teases, “There is a person who joins our cast this year that will blow your mind.” Let the speculation begin.
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