Joey King will tell you that when it came to preparing for her role as Gypsy Rose Blanchard, the young woman whose twisted upbringing would make headlines after her involvement in the death of her mother, that it was as much a mental journey as it was a physical transformation.
Hulu’s “The Act” is a dramatization of the real-life horror story of Blanchard and her mother, Dee Dee. For years, Dee Dee made her daughter believe that she suffered from a number of serious health maladies, earning the pair public sympathy and help from charity organizations. Experts would later deem it to be a case of Munchausen by proxy syndrome, a mental disorder in which a caregiver makes up or induces illnesses for sympathy or attention. After figuring out she hadn’t really been sick, Gypsy helped to plot her mother’s death in 2015. (Gypsy is currently serving a 10-year sentence after pleading guilty to her role in her mother’s killing.)
The case gained national attention following the release of a 2016 Buzzfeed article and an HBO documentary, “Mommy Dead and Dearest.” King, 19, relied on interview footage to help capture Gypsy’s demeanor and childlike voice. She also wore prosthetic teeth and shaved her head to better resemble Gypsy. But then came the internal navigation.
“I had to imagine what Gypsy was like in her more quiet moments by herself,” King said when she recently stopped by the L.A. Times video studio. “There’s this way that she is around her mom — and you can see a lot of that in the footage that’s been put out there. But when she’s alone, I imagined, what I put out there, would just be a little bit different — especially as time goes on.”
“The Act,” which is nearing the end of its first season, spends most of its time exploring the mother-daughter dynamic over a seven-year stretch, after the two moved to a home built by Habitat for Humanity in Springfield, Mo., in 2008. It chronicles how Gypsy comes of age — or at least tries to in secret — and slowly realizes the deception at play.
“The bottom line is, she and her mom both had the same desire: to love and be loved,” King said. “But Dee Dee’s love for Gypsy was so toxic and so unhealthy that even though Gypsy loved her, she just wasn’t getting what a young girl needs from a mother or from anyone. So doing these things in secret, eating the sugar, I wanted to play that. There is a sense of guilt from Gypsy when she does all these things because she does love her mom. You should never get the sense, throughout the series, that Gypsy hates her mom. … I think when Gypsy is experiencing these new things on her own, it’s exciting, it’s freeing, it’s her little secret, but there is a sense of guilt that comes with that because she doesn’t want to hurt the person that is closest to her even though she wants to break away from that closeness.”
Full article: latimes.com
Joey King has come very far from her days as a child actor. The burgeoning star is transitioning into a brilliant film and television career as she approaches her 20th birthday, most recently giving a command performance in The Act on Hulu. In the series, King plays Gyspy Rose Blanchard who murdered her abusive mother who spent her life fabricating her illnesses and disabilities to scam people.
King has proven her range and depth as an actress as she takes on these more challenging roles. At 5’4’’ she’s the little lady with the big acting range. Last year she started in The Kissing Booth on Netflix, proving her ability to take on leading lady roles in romantic comedies. From comedy to drama, King has proven she can do it all and then some.
AS IF sat down with her to discuss her recent and upcoming projects, her approach to acting technique, and her other interests and passions in addition to acting.
Let’s talk about your character Gypsy in The Act. Playing Gypsy was the first time you transformed yourself for a role. Tell me about the process of that transformation and the responsibilities you have of telling the story of a person who’s still alive?
People have been asking me if I am a Method actor who stayed in character on and off set, and the answer to that is no. I’m not the type of person that can do that mentally, it would take too much of a toll on me. But, there were times when I took Gypsy home and it was really hard to shake her off. I had to decompress by watching cartoons. I started the process of becoming her by getting to know her through information available online, like news articles and videos. I was really lucky that we had Michelle Dean working on the project with us. Michelle was the writer who wrote the Buzzfeed article that made the story go viral, and she was one of our producers. Michelle was on Gypsy’s side because she had a personal relationship with her, so I could turn to Michelle whenever I had any questions.
You are not a Method actor, but let’s talk about the scene in the court room. It was very emotional. How did you get to that place?
I definitely give myself about five minutes to get into a certain headspace before the camera rolls. It’s interesting because I’m playing a character I don’t have a lot in common with, so getting in that headspace takes more focus because I’m trying to relate to something that I can’t possibly begin to imagine. I was really fortunate to have such great directors, and the entire crew was so supportive that it made the process that much easier. Once I started getting into the headspace of the heavier scenes the character that I came to know took over for me—once I started going to that place my character knew what to do.
Do you prefer acting in one genre more than the any other?
My heart lies with drama. I love all genres, like comedy, but my heart lies in drama and when working in drama I feel most productive.
This is not the first time that you’ve shaved your head for a part.
The first time you did was when you were 11-years-old?
You had a lot of controversy aimed at you for doing so, and one would think in today’s day and age, where many stigmas and stereotypes are dissolving, that women could shave their head without an onslaught of negative comments.
Shaving my head again, this time for The Act, and playing a character so different than anything I’ve ever done before, helped me learn so much about myself. I have never felt happier than working on this project. Shaving my head was something I was a nervous about even though I had done it before. I don’t know what has happened to me over the years, but the negative comments people say don’t really register anymore, which I’m so thankful for because I feel beautiful, and I feel proud of myself. I feel proud of myself for being allowed to play this character and to work with actors I admire so much. I am proud that I got to tell someone’s life story to the best of my ability. This was such a great opportunity for me as an actor that it didn’t even cross my mind that people would judge me for the cosmetic aspects of the role. The reality is I’m proud of myself and happy with the way I look. It was a bizarrely enjoyable experience to be able to completely strip away all vanity and become Gypsy, so fuck what other people say, I’m proud of myself! (laughs)
Full interview: asifmag.com