In 2016, Michelle Dean wrote an article for BuzzFeed about the toxic, secret-filled relationship between Gypsy Rose Blanchard and her oppressive mother, Dee Dee, which ended in a twisted murder. Now, that story is the foundation of Hulu’s true-crime anthology series The Act, starring Oscar and Emmy winner Patricia Arquette as Dee Dee and Joey King as Gypsy Rose.
“Getting into the emotion and getting into the character of Gypsy was something I was so excited to tackle, but I was also admittedly super-nervous for,” King tells EW. “This is the first time I’ve ever gotten the privilege to really, really transform myself for a role.” That transformation included wearing fake teeth and shaving her head. “Transforming into Gypsy was one of the most challenging but most rewarding things I’ve ever done,” she says.
Arquette was equally prepared to transform herself for her role as the manipulative, overbearing Dee Dee. “She is a fearless actress,” says executive producer Nick Antosca. “She is not concerned about playing a terrible mother. She’s not concerned about playing a deeply complicated, scary character who does have humanity under the surface. Patricia is willing to go there.”
To Dean, who is executive-producing and writing the series with Antosca, the heart of the show is its emotional complexity. “I’ve spent three years listening to people tell me how crazy they think the people at the heart of this story are, and they were never that crazy to me,” she says. “They always seemed like human beings who had an emotional logic to what they did. Horrible things, but they did them out of truly human impulses. We made that into kind of a mission statement: We want people to understand the people behind the act.”
The Act premieres March 20 on Hulu.