A version of this story about Betty Gilpin first appeared in the Down to the Wire issue of TheWrap’s Emmy magazine.
“I think ladies are used to being asked to do 5 percent of what they can do, so I just feel so insanely lucky to have a very rare job that demands all of what I can do,” said Betty Gilpin, one of the stars of Netflix’s female-centric and fabulously executed ’80s wrestling drama “GLOW.”
And she does a lot, playing Debbie Eagen, a former soap actress turned red-blooded American wrestler Liberty Belle, who’s also raising a kid after finding out her best friend had an affair with her husband.
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“I relate to what the ladies of ‘GLOW’ go through in terms of [Hollywood] wanting to put you into a certain box,” said Gilpin, the only actor to be included among the series’ 10 nominations. “And it made me realize how many times I stood in my own way creatively.
“I’ve wasted a lot of time auditioning for the job I already had and wasting the first three takes apologizing for being there, proving that I could do it the way I knew they wanted me to, which was choiceless and small,” she said. But with the acclaimed Netflix series, she said, “I start with my weirdest idea and get weirder from there. Liberty Belle is a result of that weirdness.”
Fans can see a big change in Debbie throughout Season 1 — one that offers a lesson to other women, the actress said.
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“Debbie’s life imploded before her eyes and she realized, ‘Oh, there were things about my life that I didn’t like and things about the way I was treating myself that I didn’t like.’ So maybe she uses this life explosion to be like, ‘OK, when the smoke clears, I’m going to build a different, stronger person who likes themselves more and is a little braver,'” the actress said.
“Wrestling sort of lends itself to that in a lot of ways,” she said. “You have to be brave. It’s very chest-pounding, and it’s sort of the opposite of male-gaze posing with your body as an actress. It’s grunting and cave-dancing, which is fun.”
And Gilpin thinks her “GLOW” role will stay with her long after the show is done.
“I’m sure when I’m playing a, like, quiet minimalist detective on ‘Alaska Cop Pig in the City,'” she said, with a laugh, “I’ll be like, ‘Man, I really wish I was slamming my bones into the ground.'”
Watch the video above. Read more from the Down to the Wire issue of TheWrap’s Emmy magazine.