If you see the name “Gypsy Rose Blanchard,” it might not sound too familiar. However, you’ve probably heard her story. Documented in the popular HBO doc Mommy Dead & Dearest, the real-life tale of a doting mother and sickly daughter turned scam/murder story is wild, to say the least. Now it’s being adapted into a TV series from Hulu, called The Act, and the actor in the role of Blanchard (Joey King) truly disappeared in said role. In fact, some might say that photos of Gypsy Rose Blanchard look identical to actor Joey King in The Act. But, according to the actor, the transformation wasn’t quick or easy.
The trailer for the new true crime anthology series debuted on Monday, Feb. 11, and it showed a quick, yet visceral, look at what’s in store for this series. According to Deadline, the show itself will follow a different story every season, but Season 1 of The Act will focus solely on the life of Gypsy Rose and her mother. As seen in Mommy Dead & Dearest, Gypsy Rose was convicted of murdering her mother, Blanchard, in 2015, after years of suffering from a range of mysterious illnesses that left doctors flummoxed. After Blanchard’s death, Gypsy Rose claimed that she was a victim of Munchausen syndrome by proxy, which means her mother allegedly induced illnesses in her daughter so that she could present herself as a caretaker.
In the Young Hollywood issue of Teen Vogue, King said that it was, as one would expect, a heavy role to take on. “The story is so messed up and there are so many layers, and it’s so, so heavy,” she said. “I never want it to feel like we’re making fun of the story or we’re doing anything to romanticize it. It’s nitty-gritty; it’s really disturbing… And I’m really hyperaware of just trying to dive into Gypsy’s role as much as I can. I feel really proud of the work I’m doing.” She also said that if the real Gypsy Rose saw this one day, that she wants her to “know that we wanted to do right by her.”
Part of that meant getting the look down, and, as evidenced by the photo comparison below, King truly transformed into Gypsy Rose.
As part of her transformation, King had to shave her head. According to the HBO documentary, this was something Blanchard did to Gypsy Rose to make her seem ill. In an Instagram post from October, King showed her hair getting buzzed off. In the caption, she confirmed her new project and noted that this was the third time she’s shaved her head for a role. She wrote:
“My name for the next 4 months, is Gypsy Rose Blanchard. This story is very disturbing and I am honored to be able to portray it. What a wild ride this will be on ‘The Act’ @hulu Link in my bio for the exclusive interview I gave with @allure talking about the decision to shave my head for a 3rd time for a project I’m so ready to take on.”
In her interview with Allure, King said that she’s never had an attachment to hair, and “couldn’t care less what happens to it.” She went on: “No part of me was nervous or was second-guessing it. So many people would ask me, ‘Are you really scared?’ or ‘Are you nervous?’ or say, ‘You’re so brave.’ And I’d go, ‘I’m not brave. I’m just cutting my hair off.'” So, it’s safe to say that wasn’t the hardest part of playing this character.
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The story itself is so intense and has so many layers to it, it’s likely that King had bigger things to think about when it came to playing Gypsy Rose than just her hair. But, watching the trailer for The Act, it’s clear that the care she took into preparing herself, both physically and mentally, for the role will definitely pay off.