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What 'Mrs. Davis' star Betty Gilpin learned talking to real nuns about her character

Betty Gilpin put in the work researching her nun character for the upcoming Peacock series, Mrs. Davis.

By Tyler McCarthy
Betty Gilpin in Mrs. Davis

Days away from the premiere of Peacock’s Mrs. Davis, its star, Betty Gilpin, is opening up about some of the prep work she did to play a nun with a grudge against the world’s most advanced and possibly sinister artificial intelligence. 

Gilpin appeared on the Today show Monday where she discussed the new series, in which she plays a nun named Simone who is one of the few people around who is not eager to submit to the ubiquitous AI, called Mrs. Davis, that’s seemingly taken over the world. Because her character is a nun and she’s a pro, Gilpin asked her father to arrange for her to speak with actual nuns in an effort to better understand Simone and her religious piety. 

RELATED: 'Mrs. Davis' writers created their own AI algorithm to come up with Peacock series' episode titles

“It was amazing. My dad is an Episcopalian priest and he hooked me up with some nun Zooms,” Gilpin explained. "Just some casual nun Zooms.”

Gilpin said that the biggest thing she took away from those conversations was essentially that she, like many, had great misconceptions about nuns and people’s tendency to generalize them as characters. 

“I think in film or TV, we’re used to seeing either ‘Climb Every Mountain’ nuns, kind of one-dimensional, pious,” she explained. “Or, kind of horror movie nuns with blood coming out of their eyes. I think I had some cliché idea of what a nun was like. Talking to these three different women, you know, they were three different women. [They were] multifaceted and kind of living meditations.” 

So, fans can expect to see a unique spin on the classic television nun troupe when Mrs. Davis hits Peacock on April 20. Subverting expectations seems like a trend with the Damon Lindelof series, which Gilpin jokingly described in some very odd terms during her interview on Today

“I keep describing the genre as ‘No Country For Old Looney Tunes,’” she joked. “The Coen Brothers meets Animaniacs or something. It sort of changes genre every two minutes, which is the ultimate actor catch away for me.”

Apparently it's got critics hooked too. Check out the reviews here.

Catch the premiere of Mrs. Davis, April 20 on Peacock. The Today show airs weekdays at 7 a.m. on your local NBC channel, or catch repeat episodes on Peacock