Alison Brie Interview: ‘GLOW’ Season 2

GLOW star Alison Brie
Alison Brie in season two of ‘GLOW’ (Photo by Beth Dubber / Netflix)

Netflix held a Television Critics Association panel for GLOW, which premiered its second season last month. After the panel, Alison Brie stayed to speak with reporters further about the season.

Now that everyone’s had a chance to watch the second season, we were able to get specific. If you haven’t caught up on GLOW yet, this is your spoiler warning. We asked Alison Brie about specific scenes from season two episodes.

For instance, now was a chance to talk about the show’s sexual harassment storyline, in which Tom Grant (Paul Fitzgerald) lured Ruth (Brie) to his room expecting sexual favors. When she refused, even Debbie (Betty Gilpin) said she should’ve taken one for the team.

There’s been no news about a possible third season of GLOW, but season one and two are now available on Netflix.

Has getting better at wrestling impacted your psyche? Do you feel more confident now?

Alison Brie: “Yes, I definitely think I feel more confident. Learning how to wrestle sort of changed my life. I think it really took me out of my head when it comes to my body, got me thinking of my body in a different way, in a utility way, in an athletic way rather than an actress sort of commodity way. And looking at my body as a tool in that way and then learning the stuff we do and having a secret knowledge of what a badass I am in the ring or things that I’m capable of has been very empowering and given me more confidence. I’m not picking fights with anyone in the street, but I think I get to walk around with my head held a little higher.”

You’ve talked about how much you love the role in GLOW and how lacking other offers have been. Is that still the case? Why have those other roles been lacking?

Alison Brie: “Sure. I certainly don’t want to disparage other roles that I’ve played because I think I’ve been really lucky. I think shows like Mad Men and Community were groundbreaking and extraordinary. For me personally, it’s been hard to break through on the film side. In film, I think I’m not seeing the same types of roles that we’re seeing in television. Maybe a big part of that is just that so much television is being produced, you have so many avenues to make shows, but on the film side there’s really big budget movies and then there’s really tiny movies. So, the range of characters to be played are really small.

It sort of does feel dated that you see women as the love interest in superhero movies now, or even women who are superheroes in movies and we’re just cracking into female superheroes getting their own movies, but that’s taken a really long time. Then I think the smaller movies are still sort of reflective, and there are interesting roles there to be mined, but my journey as an actress is still trying to change people’s minds about what types of roles I can do. It’s sort of what all these women are saying that GLOW is so unique in that it gives us an opportunity to do so many different types of acting within one show. For the most part I think a lot of people still look at us and say, ‘Oh, you still do this one thing.’ So, I’m still trying to work to find different opportunities.”

Do you go out for those big franchises that all the studios are making?

Alison Brie: “I try to. I certainly do. I’m not opposed to it. That’s the funny thing anyway I think about doing a press tour for GLOW that is such a fulfilling show in every way. We get to sit on a high horse and make statements like, ‘This is the most fulfilling job as an actress and I don’t ever want to play the silent girlfriend again.’

In six months, might you see me in a movie? If a job opportunity came up to work with an amazing actor or director, would I take a role like that again? Of course, and the main reason is because I want to keep working. The industry hasn’t totally caught up to where GLOW is as a show in terms of having such extensive and diverse female roles. In the meantime, I’ll keep taking those jobs I think, or not working, and hopefully getting to come back to this every year.”

You probably would have done this storyline dealing with women’s wrestling in the ‘80s anyway, but was it really gratifying to have the sexual harassment storyline come out during the #MeToo movement?

Alison Brie: “It actually was. The story was written for episode five prior to even the Harvey Weinstein stories coming out, but by the time we were shooting it, the media was really overwhelmingly packed with stories like that. I think it made all women in Hollywood reflect on our own experiences and I certainly was in a moment of thinking about my own experiences and people I’ve worked with. So, it was sort of cathartic to shoot an episode like that and go through the motions and be able to play out almost a fantasy way of Ruth who does get to leave the room and escape it, even though she’s then met with further resistance through Debbie.

I also think the most important thing about that episode is the conversation that happens between Ruth and Debbie at the end of the episode. It was important to show, I think, how easy it is for a woman to find herself in a bad situation and then it was equally as important to see that there were a variety of female perspectives working at that time. Something that’s very different in society now versus the ‘80s is that we are talking about it and women are supporting other women. Whereas for years, I think women have felt like we had to behave a certain way and they felt like other women should fall in line. That’s a dangerous way that we’ve been made to feel.”

What kind of conversations did that episode spark among the cast of GLOW?

Alison Brie: “I think just reflective conversations, really. When I first read episode five, my question was: is it enough? Is it bad enough what he’s doing to her?”

That’s a lot of the conversation we’re having now, isn’t it?

Alison Brie: “Exactly, and that’s why I think it’s brilliant the way we did it, the subtlety to it and also not. We don’t have a grotesque-looking man walking out of the bathroom fully nude. We don’t have something that’s so in your face and everyone knows it’s wrong. There are all these shades of gray that have happened in women’s lives and, again, I think it just had me sitting in my trailer talking to Betty going, ‘You know, there are some things in my life that I think have rubbed me the wrong way.’ Or ‘Wow, there are some certain behaviors that I’ve tried to excuse away that were not right.’

So, it was an empowering feeling I think and the tone on the set while we were shooting it was so incredibly sensitive and supportive. Claire Scanlan directed with such a light touch and the actor who plays Tom Grant was incredibly sensitive. The difficulty was more coaxing the perv out of him. We were like, ‘Go further, go further. It should feel a little creepier.’ But I love the journey that it takes to get there. When Ruth enters the room, it doesn’t seem like anything bad might happen. She has a moment of seeing someone she knows and feeling quite safe and very quickly that can pivot into something else.”

How great is it that so many of the social issues in GLOW feel relevant today, and how crappy is it that so many of these social issues are still relevant?

Alison Brie: “It’s great and it’s terrifying. More than anything, the word I would use is surprising because our writers, Liz and Carly, keep writing stories that were true then and that we know to be true now, but by the time the show gets put up, they seem to be even more relevant. In a very selfish way I guess, it’s nice that it makes the show really resonate with people now, but I would prefer it were the opposite, I think, where we would be able to look back and go, ‘Wow, it was so different then.’ At the same time, I think sometimes it’s so disappointing to say, ‘Wow, this is still relevant now and more than ever.'”