What Joey King Thinks About Playing a Convicted Murderer in Hulu’s ‘The Act’

It’s a story that sounds like it came straight from a screenwriter’s head, not real life.

A mother who suffers from Munchausen syndrome by proxy forces her teenage daughter to pretend she is desperately ill. When the daughter starts to rebel against her mother’s deception and strict control, it leads to a deadly confrontation.

That’s the rough synopsis of Hulu’s upcoming true crime drama series The Act, which is based on the real-life murder of Dee Dee Blanchard by her daughter Gypsy Rose and Gypsy’s boyfriend Nicholas Godejohn.

The crime gripped people’s attention when it occurred in 2015, and it’s spawned several documentaries and a ripped-from-the-headlines Lifetime movie. Now, a standout cast including Oscar-winner Patricia Arquette, Joey King, AnnaSophia Robb, and Chloe Sevigny are tackling the story in an anthology series based on the Buzzfeed article “Dee Dee Wanted Her Daughter to Be Sick, Gypsy Wanted Her Mom Murdered” by Michelle Dean. It premieres March 20 on Hulu.

King was nervous about playing Gypsy Rose

Joey King
Joey King | Dan MacMedan/Getty Images

The Kissing Booth actress admits that she was nervous about taking on the role of convicted killer Gypsy Rose Blanchard, who is currently serving a 10-year-sentence for second-degree murder. (Godejohn received a life sentence for his role in the crime.)

“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 told Entertainment Weekly in December 2018. “This is the first time I’ve ever gotten the privilege to really, really transform myself for a role.”

But that transformation wasn’t easy. She had to shave her head and wear fake teeth to potray the wheelchair-bound Gypsy Rose, who supposedly suffered from cancer and other ailments. King called that process “one of the most challenging but most rewarding things I’ve ever done.”

King’s co-star Arquette, who plays Dee Dee, also had to commit to changing her appearance, gaining weight to play Gypsy’s abusive mother. But she told EW it was worth it.

“[T]his is such exciting material and it’s also about this relationship, this intense love affair that this mother’s so jealous and protective of,” she said. “The normal material thing’s distorted beyond, and then they have this very important relationship…” 

King calls the story “disturbing”

King is also aware of the challenges – and responsibilities – that come with portraying a living person, especially one who many see as a victim despite her murder conviction.

“I just want to make sure that if she ever sees the show one day, I want her to know that we wanted to do right by her,” King told Teen Vogue.

“The story is so messed up and there are so many layers, and it’s so, so heavy. I never want it to feel like we’re making fun of the story or we’re doing anything to romanticize it,” she added. “It’s nitty-gritty; it’s really disturbing. And it’s uncomfortable because the story is really uncomfortable. What happened is so uncomfortable.”

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