Michelle Dean, co-writer of 'The Act' reveals how Gypsy Blanchard was brought to life by Joey King
Joey King's performance was something that convinced Michelle that everything was working out for the show.
The true story of Dee Dee Blanchard and Gypsy Rose Blanchard came to light in 2015 and it made people shake their heads in disbelief. A mother who was allegedly suffering from Munchausen syndrome by proxy, abused her daughter physically and mentally over a period of two decades and had her believe that she was terminally ill. When the daughter learned the truth about her mother, she planned her murder and the first to do an in-depth report about this incident was the then Buzzfeed contributor Michelle Dean. She worked on the story for over a year and when it was finally published, it created waves. In an exclusive interview with MEA Worldwide (MEAWW), Michelle reveals what got her interested in Dee Dee and Gypsy's story and how Joey King and Patricia Arquette brought them to life through Hulu's show 'The Act'.
Michelle came across Dee Dee and Gypsy's case on through a wire copy and the mugshots that she saw then was what caught her attention. "I couldn't forget them," she said speaking of the mugshots. It took her a year to research, interview people and more before she could publish the story and even today she feels that she might not know the whole truth. "There are parts of the truth we will never know because Dee Dee is not here to tell us what they are and even if she was I am not sure she would not speak honestly about everything so we are working on a partial record."
Michelle also felt that Dee Dee and Gypsy's story was heartwrenching. She said, "It's a very intense story on an emotional level. The kinds of abuses that Gypsy suffered and also the way in which the tragedy actually happened, it is very affecting and very hard to forget." From reporting on true facts to writing a show based on the said facts, Michelle was also a part of the transition and she revealed that to be working in the writers' room, discussing the subject matter and seeing it come to fruition as a show was gratifying.
Speaking about working with King and Arquette who play the roles of Gypsy and Dee Dee in 'The Act', Michelle explained how they had a series of conversations as a way to prepare for the roles instead of formal rehearsal sessions. She also revealed a standout moment from the show was the one that was shot for the pilot. "Gypsy walks into the kitchen. That was the moment that happened over and over again. It was a heartbreaking scene of this girl, who just wants to know who she is. The only way to find out is to do under the cover of darkness because her mom won't allow her to do it in front of her, to have this journey of self-discovery. The tragedy of that, that really haunted me," she said.
King's performance also became something that convinced Michelle that everything was working out for the show. She recalled, "It was very interesting, there is part of me that was apprehensive about how it was going to turn out, how it was going to work out but I remember being on sets the first day and watching Joey's first take as Gypsy specifically and thinking 'ok she got it, she nailed the thing that we were looking for'. And her performance was so extraordinary that it became a thing that I carried with me 'Ok this is why we did it'."