Joey King describes “The Act” as “one of the most shocking, disturbing stories that I’ve ever heard.” The Hulu limited series tells the true story of Gypsy Rose Blanchard, who’s currently behind bars for the murder of her mother, Dee Dee Blanchard (Patricia Arquette). Watch our exclusive video interview with King above.
Dee Dee suffered from Munchausen syndrome by proxy, a mental disorder in which a parent or caregiver fabricates or induces illness in another person to gain sympathy. She convinced her daughter that she suffered from a variety of diseases and disabilities, earning support from several charities. When Gypsy discovered the truth she conspired with her boyfriend, Nicholas Godejohn (Calum Worthy), to kill Dee Dee.
Because Gypsy had undergone a number of surgeries and treatments for her imaginary ailments, King had to physically transform for the role, including shaving her head and wearing false teeth. “One of the most important things for me was to get her physicality right,” King explains, “the way she moves and the way she carries herself.”
When watching archival footage (including the HBO documentary “Mommy Dead and Dearest”), King saw a girl who “was trapped. She was trying to come of age, she was trying to find herself, but she was doing all these things in secret,” talking to her boyfriend and eating sugary snacks behind the back of her disapproving and controlling mom. At the same time, “there was a sense of guilt because at the end of the day she really did love her mother, and that didn’t change,” even when she took her life.
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