EXCLUSIVE: 'GLOW' Stars Alison Brie & Betty Gilpin Dish on Stepping in the Ring & Unexpected On-Set Injuries
By Meredith B. Kile
The Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling are ready to hit the mat!
Based on the real-life all-female professional wrestling show of the 1980s, Netflix’s latest original series, GLOW, takes a dramatized look at a group of women who sign up to step into the ring in search of fortune and fame.
Alison Brie and Betty Gilpin are at the center of the show, starring as floundering, wannabe Hollywood starlets who turn to wrestling to flex their muscles, creative and otherwise. And for the actresses, signing on to the new series provided a similar opportunity.
“I was just in immediately!” Brie gushed to ET’s Leanne Aguilera at the ATX Television Festival earlier this month. “The writing, I fell in love with the characters and related so intensely to the characters and then the wrestling was like, the icing on top.”
“I knew nothing about wrestling beforehand,” Gilpin admitted. “And then when I started looking into it for GLOW, it's so theatrical and it's storyline-driven and there's these crazy characters. It was really easy to connect to.”
The storylines may have come easy to the show’s stars, but mastering their takedowns in the ring was a bit more difficult. The ladies of GLOW worked with seasoned veterans like stunt coordinator Shauna Duggins, stuntwoman Helena Barrett and Chavo Guerrero Jr. -- a professional wrestling legacy whose uncle, Mando Guerrero, actually trained some of the women for the original Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling -- to perfect their moves.
“All of our matches are heavily choreographed, unlike real wrestling, which is like a crazy high form of physical improv,” Brie explained. “We trained for a month before shooting the show and we continued to train for the three and a half months that we shot the show… They were really keyed into keeping us safe and teaching us the safest way to do things, but still you get a little banged up.”
As it turns out, however, the actresses’ most dangerous moves happened behind the scenes!
“We never got hurt wrestling,” Brie admitted. “Just dicking around…[One day,] we were pretending to pants someone -- but we were not really pantsing him, because that would've been a violation -- and Betty was sort of underneath me. I just f***ing kicked [her] in the head so hard and both of us turned to each other and I grabbed Betty and I was like, 'Are you okay?!' And we were like, 'We can't let anyone know that this really just happened.’”
“I was in so much pain and crying, and I was like, 'It's fine, we're ready for the next take,’” Gilpin recalled with a laugh.
The final scene of the GLOW pilot showcases the two actresses in their full-on Gorgeous Ladies personas -- makeup, leotards, choreography and all -- and for Brie and Gilpin, it was the thrill of a lifetime.
“That was the most intense and exciting thing I've ever shot,” Brie gushed. “I was so filled with adrenaline, and it was the first time we shot a wrestling match with an audience of people. It's just insane!”
“I never did a sport, ever in school,” Gilpin added. “And I never understood it. [But] the first time I body slammed you and the crowd cheered – the paid crowd who are paid to cheer, but still -- [with] the adrenaline, I thought I could lift a car.”
“Yeah definitely, we didn’t feel a thing until the next day, when we felt everything,” Brie joked.
And while the wrestling is the focal point, GLOW strives at its heart to also be a story about the Gorgeous Ladies themselves, all of whom are, in one way or another, striving to find their way in a male-dominated world.
“The wrestling is super fun to watch, and I think it's really entertaining and exciting and I hope that you'll be impressed with our wrestling skills,” Brie added. “But really, the show is about characters, and the writing is incredible. So I hope people tune in for the stories as well as the wrestling.”