Betty Gilpin on Fixing Up a Farmhouse, Owning a Dog, and Wrestling on ‘GLOW’

Betty Gilpin
Betty Gilpin JC Olivera / Getty Images

Betty Gilpin, the star of Netflix’s GLOW and new film Isn’t It Romantic, on the perils of wrestling, being cast as a bimbo, and a true home-renovation miracle.

 

 

Hi, what are you up to today?

I’m in Canada on a sheet of ice. I’m filming a movie about dogs.

Do you have a dog?

Yes, Babe—because he looks like the pig—is half pit bull, half spaniel, and he’s my son. It’s been almost 11 years.

I read an essay you wrote for The New York Times about buying a farmhouse in New England. That must be nice for Babe.

We live in Brooklyn, in an apartment, and when we go the farmhouse on weekends, it’s Eden for dogs. And for us—it’s just bacon and books.

Bacon and books?

My husband makes bacon, and we just eat it and read and don’t look at our phones because there’s no internet in the whole town.

It was a fixer-upper. Did you get handy?

Knocking down walls was the funnest thing, but I lost my engagement ring in the process. We were taking work gloves on and off all day long to knock down walls and then stopping to eat bacon and have lemonade. At the end of the day, I looked down at my hands and my engagement ring was gone. I basically sobbed for 24 hours. The house was built in 1840. I went out in the middle of the night and was like, “If there are any spirits, specters, or ghosts, guide me to my ring.”

And?

Well, the next day, my dog and my husband and I were sitting in the middle of the yard, and we looked down, and the ring was right there, just in the grass.

No!

I couldn’t believe it either. I’m sure a transparent lady in a hoopskirt got it from the dumpster and then slapped it into the yard. I mean, it was definitely the work of a ghost.

Do you legit believe in ghosts?

I can’t believe in them because I’m so scared. Like, going to pee in the middle of the night in the farmhouse, I always am singing something like, “If you exist I respect you, but please don’t show yourself to me! I can’t handle it!”

Is the renovation done?

Mostly. There’s a guest cottage on the property that we fixed up and rent out as an Airbnb.

When people show up to the rental, do they recognize you?

My husband handles it. He’s an extrovert, so he would be the face of our Airbnb regardless of my IMDb page.

Does being different help a relationship, or is it a challenge?

He works in disaster relief, and sometimes I’ll call him like, “I’m getting a green juice on my way to my callback for Sluts: The Musical,” and he’s changing out a compostable toilet in Haiti. So he always gives me perspective. I think we’re drawn to people who are the opposite of us.

How much actual wrestling do you do playing Liberty Bell on GLOW (Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling)?

We train and we try to be careful, but I got a concussion in the last episode—I hit my head so hard, I saw stars. My hip makes crazy cracking noises now, and my knee sounds like a haunted teakettle. I’m in horrific physical pain most of the time, but it’s worth it, because I’m so honored to play a role that is not “exhibition wife.”

Did you get cast that way a lot?

Because of how I look, my business wants me to play a bimbo or a Barbie. I feel like I have to Trojan horse my way into jobs—like go in with the Barbie shell and then pop out and be “weird imagination girl,” who will be around a lot longer.

You get to show some range playing two versions of the same character in Isn’t It Romantic. Why do you think rom-coms are more popular with women than with men?

There’s this secret thing of straight men loving The Devil Wears Prada. I’ve talked to so many non-rom-com-loving bros who are like, “I’ll watch it whenever it’s on.” Once you get past the cutesiness, a rom-com is very similar to a sports narrative—it’s the ultimate underdog story. I think Rudy and Four Weddings and a Funeral are not too far from each other.

You got an Emmy nomination last year. How did you celebrate?

I took my two little brothers to the Emmys as my dates. I was dressed by Vera Wang, and they measure and fit the dress four weeks before, so you can’t change a centi-meter of your body. So when the Emmys ceremony was over, at every party my brothers got me plates of mac and cheese, gnocchi, pizza, chocolate mousse. It was the most glorious way to celebrate. When I got back to my hotel room, my friends had sent me five pints of ice cream, so I called my brothers and I was like, “Get back down here. We have work to do.” It was both glorious and grotesque.