Joey King Just Wanted to Do Right By Gypsy Rose in The Act, and She Got an Emmy Nom For It

King describes that chaotic moment when she learned of her nomination and how hard it was to let go of that character

By Lauren Piester Jul 17, 2019 10:00 PMTags
The Act, Joey KingHulu

Joey King is having a great week. 

She's busy filming something about a kissing booth in South Africa, but she definitely made time to tune in to the Emmy nominations, which were announced on Tuesday morning. Not only did King herself get nominated for lead actress, but so did her costar in The Act, Patricia Arquette. King posted the video of her learning the news in the backseat of a car and immediately calling Arquette on social media, but the behind-the-scenes of that precious moment was even more chaotic than it looked. 

King got on the phone with E! News later in the day (around 11 p.m. her time) to talk about her really big morning/afternoon. 

E! News: How did you go to work after this news? How were you not losing your mind?

King: OK, so I'm in South Africa right now. Pretty big time change. So I've been at work for several hours. So my thing is like all day, I was so jittery, I'm so nervous. And then I was doing a location move, so I was sitting in the back of a car, with my s--ty WiFi hotspot on my phone, trying to stream this on my computer that's a thousand years old. And it was just like the most crazy moment. Hilarious, weird, like I have not stopped crying almost six hours later. 

Did it almost make it better that it was such a challenge to even see the nominations? 

Yes! Like honestly, my computer froze at one point and I literally went, 'Nooo!' It as like when they were on the limited series actor one, and I was like, oh my god, no, if I miss this, I'm gonna die. But honestly, everything about it was perfect, that it was in the back of a car, that it was on my ancient computer. I'll never forget this moment. 

And Patricia also got nominated! What did that mean to you? 

Oh my god, she's the first person I called, actually. I Facetimed her, and she just kept telling me how proud she is of me. And I just kept telling her how excited I was to be nominated with her, and it was such a beautiful moment, because her and I are so close. We developed such a beautiful bond and a beautiful friendship over the course of The Act. And you know, that show took a lot of our mental and physical energy, so sharing those heavy moments with her and now to be able to just celebrate with her is such a gift. I mean, she's one of the greatest people I know and I'm thrilled and I'm honored. 

See the Moment Joey King Found Out She's an Emmy Nominee for Playing Gypsy Rose Blanchard

Who reached out to you first?

My mom. My mom and my sister called me right away. My sister Hunter was actually the first person to call me, and then my mom and I was just a puddle of tears when I was on the phone with them. It's so crazy. I mean, my phone is just like ding ding ding ding, and it's honestly so exciting. I'm just like, I don't even. I can't believe that it's real right now. Like I cannot believe it. 

Was there a big response on set?

Yeah. Everyone like clapped for me, and everyone cheered for me. It was so sweet. A lot of people cried. I especially cried. It's such a labor of love over here as well, I love all the people I'm working with over here. It's just so exciting when people that you love are excited for you, you know? 


Is it strange for you to be nominated for an award for playing a real person? 

It is crazy. I did a lot of research on Gypsy and I had a lot of resources to look at, but it is crazy that I'm telling someone's story and that I'm getting the accolades for it. And I feel so blessed and so excited because I really hope that this sheds light on how much of a victim Gypsy is. I mean, the show is meant to really highlight and tell Gypsy's side of the story, because a lot of the time people were calling her a cold-blooded killer, and that is not at all what she is. She's a young girl who's a victim who endured such a hard life and she deserves nothing but peace now. And so I hope that this show and the light it's brought and the story that we've told will help give her that peace and help people understand that she deserves sympathy and not harsh, cruel words. 

Why The Act's Calum Worthy Can't Get Nick Godejohn Off His Mind

That role was a really heavy thing for you to take on, and you even went through a major physical transformation. Have you been able to shake that character, or is she still in your head? 

You know, I'm not a method actor at all. So it wasn't one of those things where I held onto the character. It was weird for me when I did my last voice work session, dubbing the final episode, my ADR session, because that was the last time I was ever going to do her voice and ever be her. And so putting her to bed, the character of Gypsy, was a lot harder and emotionally hard for me than I thought it was going to be. And I kind of went into a little bit of a depression when The Act finished. I just didn't know what to do with myself. I was so sad because not only was the character so much of my energy, but the friends that I've made along the way, and the people that I worked with, every single person on that set became like family to me. So putting that character to bed and putting that experience behind me, it was something really really hard for me to do. I'm still so close with all the crew. I talk to them like every day. 


Do you have anything you want to say to Gypsy Rose?

There's so many things I'd want to say to her if I ever had the opportunity to sit down with her, but it's one of the things where I have to think through all the things I would like to say and narrow it down to one conversation, because all the things I want to talk to her about and all the things I want to say takes weeks, and I just want her to know first and foremost, I respect her story and that all I wanted to do was to right by her. And I hope she can see and understand that. 

What's been the biggest surprise for you with the response to this show? 

I was so nervous going into it and so excited, too. So when the show came out, I was just a ball of nerves because of how much work it took, how much I've put into it. The reaction when it first came out was just so shocking to me, first how many people were watching it, and then what people were saying about me. I was just like overcome with joy and just emotion, because it was so scary for me to have that kind of character premiere to the world because of how challenging it was for me. So it was so terrifying, and then the response made all the fear, all the hard work, all the tears, all the blood, like everything, it just made it all worth it. I mean, I would do it again, and again, and again. It was just geniuinely the best filming experience I've ever had on a project. 

2019 Emmy Nominations: Complete List of Nominees

Is there any scene that sticks out to you as one that was particularly difficult, or that you're really proud of?

There was a few. I mean, eight episodes worth of stuff, there's a scene in every episode that I'm really pretty excited about. Episode eight in general is an episode that I'm really, really proud of because it was our final installment of who Gypsy is, and I feel like playing her and having it be a seven year arc of her story...that episode for me was such a moment, emotionally for me and for the character because we'd been through so much. So starting from episode one when she's this seemingly infantile girl who acts one way around her mother and is trying to come into her own to seeing this girl in prison, trying to navigate it...that episode meant a lot to me. 

Have you started to look forward to Emmy night? Do you have any plans yet?

Not really. I'm just trying to see what happens, and I'm just enjoying the moment and trying to savor it. I definitely am excited for some cool things that could potentially happen, but right now this is my world and I wanna be able to live in it and appreciate every moment. 

The Act is streaming on Hulu. 

The 2019 Emmy Awards will air live from Los Angeles on Sunday, September 22 on Fox, starting at 8 p.m. EST.