“Because I couldn’t find compassion for [Jake Lacy’s Brother B]I didn’t want to be on his side at all,” Tipton told IndieWire.
Lio Tipton appears to be playing a fictional character in Peacock’s psychological thriller limited series “A Friend of the Family,” based on true events. But, as the Nick Antosca-created show proves, sometimes the truth really is stranger than fiction.
Actor Tipton, who identifies as non-binary and uses pronouns, portrays Latter-day Saint homemaker Gail Berchtold, who seems to have the perfect life: a handsome husband (Jake Lacy), five adorable children and nice neighbours, the Brobergs. (Colin Hanks and Anna Paquin). Yet when Gail’s spouse Bob “Brother B” repeatedly grooms and kidnaps young Jan Broberg (Hendrix Yancey and McKenna Grace, respectively), Gail’s own abusive relationship with Bob is exposed.
“It was really tough. There’s nothing decisive about her position,” Lipton said of Gail. Because of that, I tried to focus on my relationship with Jake. [Lacy]the character. I’ve never even seen a picture of Gail. But one of the most important things for me was making sure I understood what she was thinking.
Real life Jan Broberg, who served as executive producer on the Peacock series, told Lipton after production that she still uses Gail’s dinner recipes to this day and shared “all these wonderful stories” about growing up next to Gail and still “has nothing but wonderful things to say about Gail” decades later, according to the actor.
“To be honest, it was very, very scary for me to have such a personal relationship with the character,” Lipton said of the role. “Playing music was one of the most helpful things I’ve done because I couldn’t find compassion for that person and because I couldn’t find compassion for [Brother B]. I didn’t want to be with him at all. »
Tipton continued, “For the story, for legal reasons, Gail can’t know much. She kind of has to stay in that gray area, and that was really, really hard for me to do without compassion. I hated anything I said if it meant protecting Jake’s character. I said it: I’m going to assume Gail is smart. And because I guess Gail is smart, she’s not ignorant. And because she is not ignorant, what would keep her in this situation?
They said: “And I kept going back to his kids and needing B to be happy so my kids could be happy, because when he was stable and happy and he got what he wanted the family was fine I focused on how scared Gail was and how badly I just needed their dad to be home because my boys miss him and so on which made me allowed to come into contact with a different side because there is a desperation. And therefore just the desire to please him, which is by the way not too rare at this time with the social expectations of women and wives, especially in the Mormon community.He has very specific gender roles.
Tipton added: “I never thought Gail was doing this because she thought something bad would happen or he would use this against them. I think she was really finally trying to bring some peace to the family and do some acting. I think she had several masks to put on to survive. I think a lot of people in abusive situations do this on a regular basis and may or may not know it. I don’t think it’s ignorant at all. I think it’s a matter of circumstance.
Tipton’s performance as a torn Gail who walks the line between trying to keep her family together and proving her sexual worth to an unstable B brother carries the weight of every word on screen. In episode 3, Gail tells B that Mary Ann Broberg (Paquin) has some intimacy issues with her spouse (Hanks), apparently providing personal details that brother B could manipulate and weaponize when preparing the Broberg family. in general.
“That scene was really, really difficult, the dinner scene telling B everything I learned, for that reason I felt like I was trying to help him,” Tipton said. “[Director] Eliza Hittman and I worked to figure it out. Part of being in an emotionally unstable and abusive relationship is this cycle of addiction and how we learn to trust and love someone who holds the keys to all that is beautiful and happy just a little out of reach. And it’s this constant attempt to be better to live up to her expectations, which she has put on a pedestal because it’s one of the cycles of abuse.”
As showrunner Antosca told IndieWire exclusively, ‘Never Rarely Always Sometimes’ director Hittman played a vital role in building the ‘delicate psychological emotional moments’, with the pilot and Episode 3 serving as two intros. different to the Broberg family, the first without a brother. B and the third tracing brother B’s targeted mark on the family.
Dramatizing the events of the 1970s “Hitchcock thriller” endured by the Brobergs and Berchtolds was “sacred” practice for Tipton, with Antosca and Hittman at the helm. “Honestly, I don’t know how to describe it anymore. Everybody lit something, and nobody carried things like that, because how could we? said Tipton. “There’s no way to sit in that mindset and really plug in with images that your acting brain has to put together, that you can’t help but feel and think. That was part of the magic when we were doing scenes. When we were all in costume, and it was time to film, there was just this heaviness that you could feel in the room. It was almost sacred. And then we would leave the set, and I think we would remember that this is our story.
Tipton shared that they “found comfort” in scenes opposite co-star Paquin as part of a “shared little secret experience” with their two adult characters who are survivors of Brother B abuse. “I think that violence, in general, is a very shared relationship,” Tipton said. “I really relied on Anna with our bond.”
And it all goes back to the Brobergs themselves, with Jan and the real Mary Ann on set as well.
“I don’t think any of us could have done it without Jan being our northern lights to guide us,” Tipton said. “It wasn’t a project that any of us couldn’t easily take home.”
“Friend of the Family” is now airing on Peacock.