'Mrs. Davis' star Betty Gilpin shares her nun character's mistrust of technology

"I'm scrolling on the toilet just like everyone else and then snatching the phone away from my 2 1/2-year-old daughter like it's poison," Gilpin told UPI.

Betty Gilpin stars in "Mrs. Davis." Photo courtesy of Peacock
1 of 6 | Betty Gilpin stars in "Mrs. Davis." Photo courtesy of Peacock

NEW YORK, April 20 (UPI) -- GLOW and Nurse Jackie actress Betty Gilpin says she shares the mistrust of technology expressed by the Catholic nun she portrays in the new sci-fi drama, Mrs. Davis.

Set to premiere Thursday on Peacock, the series follows Gilpin's character, Simone, as she confronts the titular god-like artificial intelligence that wants to take over the world. To defeat it, Simone must find the long-lost, oft-sought Holy Grail.


"I feel mixed about technology. I'm addicted to all the dumb parts of it in a way that I find embarrassing. I'm scrolling on the toilet just like everyone else and then snatching the phone away from my 2 1/2-year-old daughter like it's poison," Gilpin told UPI in a recent Zoom interview with reporters.

The actress said she hopes the show -- an entertaining, frequently funny adventure that also explores concepts such as power, free will and the meaning of life -- will spark conversations among its viewers.


"Something that my character grapples with is her connection to her faith. She is sort of saying, 'What are we gambling with when we're relying so much on having all of the answers in our pocket? Do we stop asking the big questions? Do we stop having access to a portal to the intangible?'" the actress said.

"I, Betty, am not a person of faith, but I do wonder if I am addicted to this screen in my hand, does my brain lose the ability to wander on its own or to be creative or existential or connect with people if I am so disconnected, glued to an algorithm tailored to me and my own personal echo chamber?" she added. "It's terrifying."

It's natural to zero in on issues like this as people are still recovering from the loss of life and freedom they experienced during the recent coronavirus pandemic, Gilpin believes.

"We were lonely and the news was depressing, and clinging to our screens as a sort of salve for all of the pain was a real thing for all of us," she said.

"I think about the Internet and church as two things that were institutional responses to probably an initially very pure need for connection and wondering."


The actress credits series creators Tara Hernandez (The Big Bang Theory) and Damon Lindelof (Lost) for setting up a colorful, detailed world in which she and co-stars Jake McDorman, Andy McQueen and Margot Martindale could play.

"The layers were really there in the writing," Gilpin said.

"It's such a rare gift to have the richest back story just served to you [with] all the flashbacks. I was provided with every answer to any question I could have about her," she added. "Really, my homework was done for me. I just had to say the words out loud."

Feeling comfortable with her collaborators, she said, greatly impacted her performance, too, because it made her feel safe and take artistic risks.

"I would show up on set and just be super-nervous or scared or not want to step on toes," she recalled about working on past projects in which she wasn't so at ease.

"As a result, I think I played it a little safe in terms of creative swings and, on this one, I was like, 'The world almost ended. Let's swing for the goddamn fences.' And everyone else around me was swinging for the fences, so it made it pretty easy."


The sunglasses and updated nun's habit Simone typically wears make her look like an angelic badass, particularly when she is driving a motorcycle with sidekick Wiley (McDorman) clinging onto the back.

"I love the Katharine Hepburn pants of the habit. I loved the wimple. I loved it all," Gilpin said.

"It just felt like my superhero suit. There was comfort in knowing what I'd be wearing every single day and then, in the flashbacks, it was this exciting thing where I got to wear jeans and it felt like a ball gown," she said with a laugh. "It was pretty hot in the wool habit, but I loved it."

The actress also said she is also proud of the striking visual she is presenting to women and young girls.

"I'm allowing my daughter 15 minutes of screen time in the mornings. I'm showing her modern-day cartoons and it makes me realize how toxic and dated some of the cartoons that I watched were, that were all patriarchal -- prince comes to get the princess and rescues her," Gilpin said.

"Now it's all empowered princesses. So, yeah, I love that Wiley is on the back of the horse. It's awesome."

Betty Gilpin attends 'Mrs. Davis' premiere in LA

Betty Gilpin (R) and Jake McDorman attend the premiere of Peacock's "Mrs. Davis" in Los Angeles on April 13, 2023. Photo by Alex Gallardo/UPI | License Photo


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