Image Source: Netflix
If you haven't already fallen in love with the '80s wonderland of wrestling and feminism that is GLOW, cancel all of your plans — you need to binge-watch its two seasons ASAP.
The Netflix series recently premiered its sophomore season and picked up two Emmy nominations, including one for best comedy series. The show follows a ragtag group of women becoming amateur wrestlers and hits the perfect note in every aspect, from a top-notch cast and stellar soundtrack to amazing costumes and a story that you just can't get enough of. Each character brings a certain amount of pizzazz to the show, including the mouthy rebel without a care Justine Biagi, played by actress Britt Baron.
Baron manages to steal scenes no matter who she's partnered with, whether it's Alison Brie's painfully earnest Ruth, Betty Gilpin's bitterly determined Debbie, or Marc Maron's Sam, whose bark is just as bad as his bite. Though season one sees a guarded and brooding Justine who seems more interested in the pizza boy than wrestling, the season finale reveals that Justine is actually Sam's daughter. That relationship becomes one of the most important focal points of season two, and leads to some truly touching scenes between the two characters.
Baron's Justine is the quintessential portrayal of an angsty teenager, one that is familiar across any era. Her snarky nature, practiced aura of indifference, and intense vulnerability is relatable to anyone who remembers how dramatic adolescence can be. Baron portrays all this with a nuance that's admirable, playing up Justine's volatile emotions with just enough hilarity and sincerity to keep us rooting for her.
I recently sat down with Baron to discuss Justine, GLOW season two, what she hopes for her character to accomplish in season three, and what her own personal wrestling persona would be.
POPSUGAR: Justine has such a distinct personality. Were you anything like her as a teenager?
Britt Baron: Yes, I guess I was. I went through kind of a punk phase where I painted my nails black, I got my first pair of Converse, and I was listening to bands like the Spill Canvas. I went to this music festival on the East Coast called the Bamboozle with all these punk bands, and I was in the mosh pit! But I think I was definitely more of a poser, while Justine is actually a runaway and so independent. I was just trying to rebel, which I think most people are at that age. Most kids kind of go through this process where it's like, "I'm not an adult, but I'm not a baby anymore." So I tried to find that independence, but definitely not to the extent that Justine went to. She's definitely way cooler than I was.
"GLOW has given me so much, it's one of the greatest gifts in my life. The biggest thing I'll take away is my relationship with these women."
PS: What's your process for getting into character? Do you listen to music that Justine would?
BB: I did! Kate Nash, who plays Rhonda, made me a playlist for season one, which was really helpful. Before we started shooting, I watched a bunch of '80s movies to kind of understand the time period, and listened to the Runaways, because Justine is supposed to idolize Joan Jett — that's where the haircut inspiration comes from. But I feel like I really found her once I was in full wardrobe and my hair was cut and dyed black. When I auditioned, they didn't say Justine was a punk-rock girl, they described her as a cagey teenager. So I didn't understand her until all of the hair, makeup, and wardrobe was finished. I did a lot of research beforehand. I read a lot of books that delved into punk-rock bands, especially female artists in the '80s. So I did a lot of pre-research, but really, once you start shooting, you kind of have to let that all go and just focus on the character.
PS: What is your favorite thing about working with the cast and Jenji Kohan?
BB: This cast of women are just phenomenal humans. GLOW has given me so much, it's one of the greatest gifts in my life. The biggest thing I'll take away is my relationship with these women. I feel like we're sisters at this point, we even have a group chat that goes off every single day. When I started GLOW I was nervous about being on a cast with all these women because there's a tendency for women to look at each other as competition, and there can be a lot of passive-aggressiveness. I was so surprised because it's been nothing but support and love for one another. Hollywood is insane, and it can be so brutal; so to have this group of women behind each and every one of us has been amazing. I'm giddy going to work every day! I might have cried going to work at some point because I couldn't believe I was on a show that I believe in, with people I love to see and work with. [Casting director] Jennifer Euston did a phenomenal job in casting truly different women, and it's strange how we're all so unique yet we complement each other. It's been such a wonderful surprise how well we gel, and I think that translates to the screen.
PS: How would you describe the change in Justine's mindset from season one to season two?
BB: Well, season one, she had her guard up because she's carrying this huge secret. She's kind of wearing this mask and it's not just for Sam, but also for these other girls who don't know she's his daughter. So after that bomb is dropped, I feel like you get to see a more genuine side of her [in season two]. She moves in with Sam, and you get to see her be more of a teenager and dealing with normal teenage stuff like boyfriend drama, not wanting to go to school or do homework, and fighting with her dad about her curfew. She's not trying to blend in or act older than she is anymore. And I think you get to see a different side of Sam through that as well. With him trying to learn how to be a father to essentially a stranger that he just met. It's a different dynamic, and you get to see her act like a teenager because of it.
Image Source: Netflix
PS: What would you like to see for Justine in a possible season three?
BB: I would love to see her wrestle! I trained with all the girls, so I'm dying to get in the ring. That may just be me being selfish, but I'm really hoping you get to see Justine in the ring. I think she's very guarded and doesn't like to be vulnerable and performing as a wrestler is super vulnerable. I feel like it would be a growing moment for her, and it could be her finding some confidence. And I'd love to show off what I've learned in the past few years!
"There's a character for everyone to identity with because all of us are so different, which I think is a strength."
PS: What has been your favorite episode to work on so far?
BB: That's so hard! I would say episode two of season two, because I had such a blast with the punk rock scene — that was my first fight, and we didn't use stunt doubles. That was the closest I've gotten to wrestling, and I think it's just a cool episode to see Justine and Sam's relationship. They have a breaking moment that leads to them finally having a tender father-daughter moment. But season one was also such a blast because I was working with all the girls and it was just so silly. Shooting those scenes always takes a long time because we have so many takes, but it's like a party.
PS: Why do you think people have fallen in love with GLOW so much?
BB: Well, I think there are a lot of reasons. I think the writing is so smart, progressive, funny, and heartfelt. I think it's a show that is an easy, enjoyable watch. It's 30 minutes and it's 10 episodes. It's a nice break because it has a little of everything. It's laugh-out-loud funny and it covers meaningful issues at the same time. There's a character for everyone to identity with because all of us are so different, which I think is a strength. I can't really think of a show where women are using their bodies in this strong way that has nothing to do with the male gaze. It's all about being powerful, and I think that's refreshing. I don't think we see a lot of shows where you see women doing something like that. Our writers are amazing, and the cast is so strong that it's kind of an amazing mixture.
Image Source: Netflix
PS: Alison Brie has said that she's gotten in the best shape of her life for this role — was your training process just as intense?
BB: Alison has a personal trainer who she's worked with for several years, and I, unfortunately, don't, so I'm definitely not in the shape that Alison is. [Laughs] I actually thought when we were starting training that it was going to be super intense. I thought we were going to be running through tires and doing like 200 sit-ups, but really it's just wrestling training, which is complicated and challenging in a different way. You're learning how to move and flipping partners over your head and making sure you aren't getting hurt. But I have trained with the girls during both seasons, because the writers could change a scene to write in a fighting scene and they like knowing we're prepared for the possibility.
PS: How has your work in theater helped you prepare for this role?
BB: It kind of helped me book the role actually. In my initial callback and audition, on top of doing scenes, we were given these wrestling raps where we were asked to improvise. I performed mine as a monologue as if I was in a wrestling ring, talking to an audience, which is really similar to being on a stage. Since my background is mostly theater, that's where I'm the most comfortable, so I think I was able to shine in that sense. A lot of TV acting and auditions, I've been told to do less or take it down, and GLOW is the opposite. We're constantly encouraged to go bigger, bolder and perform for the back of the balcony. We're encouraged to be our biggest, baddest self, and thankfully I found a show where my theater background works. And wrestling itself is very similar to being in theater, you're performing for an audience on a stage.
PS: If you were to become a wrestler, what would be your wrestling persona?
BB: Oh, wow, this is hard. I have so many thoughts! Maybe I'd be like, a wolverine because I went to the University of Michigan and I'm obsessed with Michigan. I'm a huge Michigan fan, so maybe it'll be something along those lines, wearing maize and blue which were our colors (Go Blues!). Or something after Arya Stark, my favorite character of all time. I kind of relate to her, she's such a badass.