Director Erin Lee Carr on Being a 'Good Girl'
BY ALLIE WAXMAN
The director of Mommy Dead and Dearest talks about the bizarre case of Dee Dee and Gypsy Rose Blancharde.
What first drew you to this story?
I made my first film, Thought Crimes, for HBO about the internet and technology, but also about crime. Crime has this ability to get people interested immediately, and it felt like a really natural progression to look for an additional crime story.
Describe your experience interviewing Gypsy in prison.
It was uncomfortable, fascinating, surreal, upsetting and nerve-wracking — I don’t think I’ll ever have another interview like it.
Did you believe what Gypsy was saying when you interviewed her?
I had done a lot of research with my team, so I knew I had a really complex and comprehensive understanding of the case. Did I find that she potentially blamed Nicholas more than she blamed herself? Yeah. But Nicholas was an abuser, and I find Gypsy to be incredibly empathetic and believable.
Like you say in the film, she fell through every crack in the system. There were doctors that flagged Gypsy’s case. How did this happen?
You have a mom and a daughter in a wheelchair; the mom who is really friendly, bubbly, and is asking questions. Dee Dee fashioned herself as this ultimate caregiver so she would not be suspected. This is somebody who was really good at a con. I do take a lot of issue with the ways the doctors and hospitals handled themselves — but that woman fooled everyone.
I noticed Gypsy smiles a lot in her interviews. Why do you think she does this?
Gypsy is a southern girl and she was raised in a specific way. I think she has a lot of issues with people-pleasing, which I had to really think about as I interacted with her.
One of the last things she says in the movie is, “I’ll be a good girl.” I don’t think it plays as disturbing, but for me, it was really, really disturbing. She’s a twenty-five year old woman! As a strong feminist and female filmmaker, I was just like, “Babe, you’ve gotta make you happy. None of this “good girl” stuff.”
Did you find Gypsy’s expression of remorse genuine?
Yes. It felt in the room like a crackle. I never felt an interview like that.
Was there anything you discovered when uncovering this story that shocked or surprised you?
One thing I really wish was in the film is that Dee Dee and Gypsy slept in the same bed. Every night. She was supposedly eighteen; she wasn’t eighteen, she was twenty-three. This house was like a dream — it didn’t make any sense.
Do you think Gypsy will have the support she needs when she’s released from prison?
She has more support than we could hope for. Rod and Christy, her dad and stepmom, could have so easily been like, “Nope, we can’t do it, there was violence that happened here, we have children,” but the amount of forgiveness and compassion they’ve shown Gypsy is amazing. She has a very strong support group.
I worry about her intellectually and psychologically. She’s dealt with serious, serious trauma. It’s gonna be a tough seven years. I want to continue being thoughtful about what happens to this woman after the movie’s done.