“It’s a lot of glitter and big hair.”
OK, so it’s the Eighties, yes — but the costumes Alison Brie is describing are made for a little more mobility than the average decade look.
“I mean, the whole show is a lot of Spandex and Capezio tights for days.”
The show is “GLOW,” the buzzy summer premiere from Netflix (out June 23) from “Orange Is the New Black” writer Jenji Kohan, which brings back the “Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling,” a TV series of female wrestlers that began in 1986. Brie leads the series as Ruth Wilder, a wannabe actress who finds herself auditioning for the series with not a clue as to what she’s signing onto.
“The concept alone blew me away,” Brie says, dressed in a silky Red Valentino dress on a couch inside the Ritz-Carlton Suite of the hotel’s Central Park location (looking a long way from the wrestling ring).
“I’ve been looking for a new show to do, and my agents called and gave me a two-second pitch: ‘We just read this new show, Jenji Kohan is producing it, it’s about women’s wrestling in the Eighties’ and I was like, ‘I want it,’” Brie continues. “And then began the long journey of trying to get to the show. Reading it, falling in love immediately and then you get to the part where they’re like, ‘Well they don’t actually think you’re right for the part.’”
The 34-year-old, who married actor Dave Franco earlier this year, is known and beloved for cult shows like “Community” and “Mad Men,” as well as films “Sleeping With Other People” and “How to Be Single.” Following the summer of “GLOW,” she heads for the big time in Steven Spielberg’s “The Papers” alongside Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Sarah Paulson and Matthew Rhys.
Despite not being the writers’ initial vision of Rachel, Brie says she won her way into the role with a perseverance that coincidentally mimics the character’s.
“It didn’t discourage me at all to hear that they didn’t think I was right for the part — I was like, ‘This is the challenge I’ve been looking for, I’ll prove it to them and then I’ll prove it to the world, in theory,’” she says. “I had to come in many times and it really helped me feel more and more like the character, who is a struggling actress. She fights to get on this wrestling show, and [the writers] have said that they were watching me become more of the character as my own desperation was growing, as my own battle waged on. So it’s really satisfying to fight for something you really want and get it.”
Prior to being cast, her wrestling knowledge was “nonexistent,” but the idea of having to train for it was immediately enticing. “My trainer was one of the first people I told,” she says of booking the role, which required four-plus weeks of training. “The first question everyone asks me when I say I’m playing a wrestler on the show, they’re like, ‘Oh, did you have to get jacked, did you have to gain a ton of muscle?’ and it’s like, no no no, it’s not like that — this is eighties women’s wrestling, where women just kind of ran the gamut.”
Being slammed down inside the ring came with its own set of training, aside from anything physical. “[It was] emotional to overcome things that you didn’t even know were fears of yours, because you’ve never been presented with, ‘Now you’re gonna flip over and land on your back on the mat,’” she says, “and it’s like, ‘Oh I never realized that might be a fear of mine, but I guess I’m gonna go for it.’”
That, and it made for some fairly fantastic fashion moments (aside from the glitter and spandex).
“We would tuck my jeans into my socks — I loved the jeans I wore on the show,” she says. “[Costar] Marc Maron hated them so much. He was like, ‘How did anyone have sex? How did anyone get laid wearing these jeans?’”