“It’s like a creative potpourri” says actor Betty Gilpin of her Netflix series “GLOW.” The third season of the female wrestling comedy moved the location to Las Vegas, which created fascinating new developments for Gilpin’s character Debbie. Watch the full interview above.
“We’re being asked to do 100% of what we can do, physically and creatively,” explains Gilpin. The series demands expert comedic timing, deep exploration of emotions, and the ability to pull off impressive wrestling moves in a bedazzled costume. Other acting jobs might only ask for five percent of one’s potential according to the actress, so the creative atmosphere of “GLOW” continues to keep the role satisfying after three seasons.
In the episode “Freaky Tuesday,” the actors are forced to expand their performance styles when the “Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling” decide to swap characters for one night. Debbie typically plays the patriotic “Liberty Belle” persona, but instead takes on Zoya, a villainous Russian agent played by Allison Brie’s Ruth. The concept made Gilpin hesitant at first, noting previous character-swap rehearsal exercises in her career have never ended well. “Actors are way too neurotic for that,” she quips. But thanks to what Gilpin affectionately calls the “exploding circus of Muppet insanity” on set, she felt confident to let loose in Zoya’s red leotard and experiment with some deadpan Russian humor.
The actress credits her friend and co-star Brie for helping to create the right atmosphere on set for this kind of play. Gilpin describes the way that Brie “sets this tone from the top down that we’re here to be joyful… it makes me come to work with a thousand ideas.”
Season 3 also finds Debbie deeply frustrated with the challenges of being taken seriously as a woman producer in the 1980s. While her sporadic triumphs over her male cohorts result in a few fantastic one-liners, Gilpin appreciates that those moments are grounded in reality. According to the actress, there’s “so much time spent not being heard” which underlines Debbie’s struggles professionally and personally. Instead, “we get to see these little victories.”
Gilpin has already earned two Emmy nominations for Best Comedy Supporting Actress for this role, a statistic she describes as “wild.” “Unlike Debbie, I had my sights set so low in order to protect myself,” she admits. Thanks to a multifaceted character that continues to bring challenges and joys, Gilpin can stop aiming low and begin aiming for an Emmy hat-trick.
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