Betty Gilpin has a succinct way of describing what you see as an “over-correcting” of the female characters on screen. “I used to be a bimbo with the boobs. Suddenly I’m a Magic 8 ball with the boobs,” referring to the child’s fortune-telling toy. She explains, “I’m 35 years old. The roles I played 10 years ago were like bimbos with no answers. Now, even though I play the therapy wife, I have everyone The answers to my husband’s problems at his job at NASA. Which is really unreal too! It just makes me one-dimensional in a different way.”
Perhaps more than most actors, Gilpin has spent a lot of time analyzing her industry’s treatment of women. Prior to her three-time Emmy-nominated role in a Netflix female role that was prematurely canceled glare wrestling dramaspent her early career mostly smiling, nodding, removing her head and putting in body bags (including on one occasion Accidentally left zipped inside One after the filmmaker called a cut on the Law & Order set).
A lot of this type of dress-up comes down to the way she looks, and Gilpin realizes that her blonde exterior is what has kept her reserved for certain jobs and discounted from others. “I’m working inside the shell you gave me,” she says, speaking from her bedroom in her home in Brooklyn, New York. “But it doesn’t always match how I feel inside of me. I guess I was trying to shake the white-collar world and say, ‘I’m a character actress! I’m more than the sum of my cheekbones and aura!’ But if that’s what got me to the job, sure, let’s We wear a push-up bra and some contouring if it means I’m going to do some weird faces and choices.”
It’s probably these “weird choices” that have earned Gilpin a notoriety for making the most of light roles: reviewers regularly refer to them as “untapped.” This may explain the allure of her latest project, the TV series Gaslit, a side look at the Watergate scandal that focuses on people — especially women — whom, as Gilpin says, history has tried to “make invisible.” Among these was Martha Mitchell (played by Julia Roberts on the series), the outspoken wife of Richard Nixon’s attorney general, who tried to draw attention to Nixon’s corruption, paying a heavy price in the process.
Gilpin plays Maureen “Mo” Ken Dean, a liberal cabin attendant who falls in love with White House counsel John Dean, despite her political politics. “Mo was known for being the beautiful, silent wife in the background of the Watergate hearings,” Gilpin says. “As someone who was eligible for health insurance and who paid for appetizers by being a curvy wife with no lines in the background, I was really attached to her. Fortunately, she now has lines in our chain!”
Although Dean is still alive, Gilpin has not contacted her. “I composed the email in my mind,” she says. And then I was like, ‘I don’t want to bother this poor woman. “I took more time trying to think of what it was like to be a woman in 1972 and less what Mo Dean’s left shoulder does when she’s tired.”
Perhaps surprisingly, Gilpin was ready to return to politics after her last outing on that front: starring in a horror movie Pushing the Buttons. the hunt, where a group of wealthy liberal “elites” hunt the poor and “unfortunate” right-wingers. Not only was the film’s initial 2019 release pulled in the wake of two mass shootings, it was described by right-wing media, missing the intended sarcasm, as “madness and evil‘, prompting then-President Trump to tweet about Hollywood as ‘too bad for our country.’ The Hunt was finally released in 2020 as the pandemic spread, and was marketed with the tagline, ‘The most talked about movie of the year is the one no one has actually seen.’ Gilpin agrees: “I still stick with this movie. The controversy was kind of the most descriptive advertising campaign we could have asked and America established itself as the country we said was in the movie.”
More than anything else, you now see that polarized debate is “almost part of the creative process.” She nodded through the steps: “You outline, you find the right shoes in the right clothes, you picture the thing, Twitter explodes, then the actual reaction happens, and the dust settles. It’s like taking out your wisdom teeth. It’s inevitable.”
Gilpin is staying away from social media herself – she doesn’t have public profiles on any platform – and instead of constant chatter on Twitter, there are plenty of other voices tuned in. This fall, her first collection of essays will be published, All the Women in My Brain, titled referring to how she views her brain as “a room full of women taking turns at the wheel.” Talking to her—babble, wit, and fond of colorful metaphor—it is evident how frustrating it was to have had so few lines for so many years, and it was no surprise that she turned to writing.
Before the book, she had received good articles published in Lena Dunham’s newsletter Lenny’s message And Glamor Magazine (This photo, which looks real, was titled “What It’s Like to Have a Pea-Size Confidence with Breasts the Size of a Watermelon”). Obviously, she explodes to express herself. While her article makes the case for the women living inside her head, they are actually made visible by the women Gilpin played. She describes the acting as “the perfect allegory of being a woman in the world…cycling through oneself to give the one in front of you the girl they want.”
Having grown up with two actor parents, who primarily worked on the New York stage, she was appalled that she had dropped out of her drama training to find that being a young actress in the 2000s meant creating a brand: “In theater school, they taught you: ‘Just be this’.” The strange pot,” and I graduated and it was like, “Oh no – I have to convince people how natural I am.”
Those early roles – she IMDb . credits It includes parts like “Young Model” and “Blonde Chick” – which required Gilpin to distance herself, but gradually found ways to undermine expectations. When she was cast in the Eddie Falco comedy Nurse Jackie, she played an inept doctor, but two writers, Liz Flahave and Carly Minch, dived that she could do more and embody the character. It was Flahive and Mensch who later cast her in Glow as a washed-up soap actress who finds new purpose in the alter ego of all-American wrestler, Liberty Bell. When it was abruptly canceled with the onset of the pandemic (cruelly, while filming for the fourth and final series was already underway), Gilpin penned an honest poem, saying:Best job I will ever getper Vanity Fair. She still talks to co-star Alison Brie “every day” and thinks that season four should happen 20 years later; her eyes light up with the thought of playing the elderly Liberty Bell.
Recently, she and Brie worked with the creators of Glow again at Apple TV + series RoarAdapted from Cecilia Ahern’s Feminist Fables. Gilpin is ideally portrayed as the woman kept on the shelf, a wife who is put on an actual pedestal by a loving and controlling husband. For her it was a cautionary tale of what could happen if she succumbed to eating “validation candy,” and it feels especially relevant given that Gilpin considers herself at a “scary crossroads” regarding her appearance. “That’s all going away soon,” she says. “The more center-fold parts of my aesthetic will shrivel up, and I hope what’s left is a more Martha Mitchell kind—a snarling human martini swirling from a puck person.”
However, despite all this work on self-esteem, it’s hard to completely shake off this lingering doubt as to why she was hired: “Is it the inner ‘strange ocean’ that evoked the character’s tears? Or is it the now playful tits on which those tears fell? Because One of them has an expiration date… It feels like a dangerous moment where I’m like, “I’m still allowed to keep doing this, right?”
It seems likely that the bimbo roles behind Gilpin. The next two parts are as a nun battling artificial intelligence in Damon Lindelof’s new sci-fi show Mrs. Davis, and as Lena, a mother of two who embarks on a romantic relationship in the TV adaptation of Bestseller Lisa Taddeo Three Women.
Both will be added to the women’s collection that Gilpin carries with her – a Rolodex that she constantly browses through and learns from. “It’s an exciting push and pull to play as a character – in terms of how long does it take to reprogram?” she says. “It’s almost like through these avatars of women taking so much time on the empowerment journey, I get a little bit closer to who I am.” After many years of being settled by an industry that told her she could only be one thing, Betty Gilpin is finally ready to reveal all the women she can be.
New episodes of Gaslit available this Sunday on StarzPlay; Roar is available on Apple TV +; The movie All the Women in My Brain was released in September.