All Research

The Act (2019)

Joey King
Born: July 30, 1999
Los Angeles, California, USA
Gypsy Rose Blanchard
Born: July 27, 1991
Birthplace: Golden Meadow, Louisiana, USA
Patricia Arquette
Born: April 8, 1968
Chicago, Illinois, USA
Clauddine 'Dee Dee' Blanchard
Born: May 3, 1967
Birthplace: Chackbay, Louisiana, USA
Death: June 10, 2015, Springfield, Missouri, USA (stabbed)
Calum Worthy
Born: January 28, 1991
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
Nick Godejohn
Born: abt 1989
AnnaSophia Robb
Born: December 8, 1993
Denver, Colorado, USA
Aleah Woodmansee
Born: 1992
Birthplace: Springfield, Missouri, USA

Renamed Lacey in the series
Margo Martindale
Born: July 18, 1951
Jacksonville, Texas, USA
Emma Pitre
Born: March 15, 1938
Birthplace: Golden Meadow, Louisiana, USA
Death: June 9, 1997, Golden Meadow, Louisiana, USA
Cliff Chamberlain
Rod Blanchard
Born: abt 1974

Questioning the Story:

Is Gypsy Rose Blanchard's voice really that high pitched?

Actress Joey King, who portrays Gypsy, studied her unique voice and says that it was a crucial part of getting into character for the role. Mistakenly, many viewers have assumed that it's Joey King's real voice, but it isn't. "It's just doing your research — watching videos, listening to her speak, and just really trying to get it in my brain as much as possible," the actress told Vulture in March 2019, adding that at first the studio assumed she would use her own voice instead of trying to match Gypsy's. "I'm very happy that I was able to do her voice and become her more completely."

The Act true story reveals that Gypsy Rose Blanchard's voice was indeed that high pitched, especially while she was under her mother's care. You can hear her squeaky voice in this interview from 2008 when she was almost 17. Speech experts have weighed in on why her voice was so high pitched, with some reasoning that she was doing it almost unconsciously in response to being infantilized by her mother, Dee Dee, who had convinced her that she was years younger than she was.

Actress Joey King (left) in The Act and the real Gypsy Rose Blanchard (right) in a Cinderella costume.

Did Gypsy really have a feeding tube?

Yes. In conducting The Act fact check, we confirmed that Gypsy did have a feeding tube. "My mother told the doctors that I couldn't eat," says Gypsy, "so they put a permanent feeding tube in." -Dr. Phil

Did Dee Dee really claim that Gypsy had that many ailments?

Yes. According to the BuzzFeed article on which The Act was based, Dee Dee began obsessing over Gypsy's fake medical problems when Gypsy was only three months old, claiming that she had sleep apnea. As she grew, Dee Dee's list of her daughter's medical issues seemed to never end. She claimed that Gypsy had epilepsy, muscular dystrophy, leukemia, cancer, asthma, eye problems, hearing problems, and chromosomal defects, among other things, none of which were true (aside from an occasional lazy eye). Dee Dee would often switch doctors to create a confusing medical trail. It also helped that Dee Dee had once worked as a nurse's aide. She knew enough medical terminology to convince people she was well-informed regarding Gypsy's ailments. It is believed that Dee Dee was suffering from Munchausen syndrome by proxy, a mental disorder in which a caregiver (usually a parent) applies an imaginary illness or injury to a person under his or her care.

When Gypsy became a teenager, her mother told family and friends that she had the mind of a 7-year-old. To make sure Gypsy stayed under her control, Dee Dee home-schooled her, kept a watchful eye on her Internet usage, and stayed with her at all times. During interviews, Dee Dee can often be seen clutching Gypsy's hand, and it is believed that she would squeeze her daughter's hand in order to let her know if she was answering a question correctly.

Top: Dee Dee Blanchard and her daughter Gypsy Rose.  Bottom: Joey King and Patricia Arquette as the daughter and mother in The Act Hulu TV show.

Did Dee Dee really make money off people believing that Gypsy was sick?

Yes. In addition to Habitat for Humanity giving them a house with a wheelchair ramp and a Jacuzzi tub (supposedly for Gypsy's muscles), Dee Dee also profited off donations and charity trips, flying across the country to conferences, galas and to see doctors. Make-A-Wish even paid for a trip to Walt Disney World. The Act seems to convey this aspect of their lives accurately.

While researching the true story behind The Act show, we learned that Gypsy got to meet country singer Miranda Lambert and then-husband Blake Shelton. Lambert personally gave Dee Dee and Gypsy a check for $3,500. Gypsy also met two of her favorite actors, Elijah Wood and Sean Astin from Lord of the Rings.

The real Gypsy met celebrities, including Elijah Wood and Sean Astin, two of her favorite actors.

How accurate is Gypsy's friend and neighbor Lacey?

AnnaSophia Robb's character in The Act is based on Gypsy's friend Aleah Woodmansee. Despite Aleah's name being changed for the series (likely for legal reasons), it seems that her friendship with Gypsy is depicted rather accurately. They were neighbors and would spend time discussing various things, including boys. "She would show interest in like different boys and try to ask me advice on like, you know, how do you approach them? How do you like, kiss a boy?" says Aleah. As seen in the Hulu series, Dee Dee didn't like the boy talk. "My daughter has the mentality of a child," Aleah recalls Dee Dee telling her. "You're talking to her about teenage girl things."

On the show, Lacey's mom Mel (Chloë Sevigny) is a fictionalized version of Aleah's mother, Amy Pinegar.

It's true that Aleah Woodmansee was the only one who knew that Gypsy Rose Blanchard had a secret Facebook account. Gypsy used her Facebook alias "Emma Rose" to message boys.

AnnaSophia Robb's character, Lacey (left), was inspired by Gypsy's real-life friend and neighbor Aleah Woodmansee (right).

Did Lacey's mother, Mel, really catch Dee Dee shoplifting?

No. Mel, whose real-life name is Amy Pinegar, never caught Dee Dee shoplifting. The show uses this as a tool to fuel her suspicions about Dee Dee. Pinegar says that she made an effort to help out Dee Dee however she could and only tried to be a good neighbor. The Act true story confirms that the neighbors did feel betrayed when they learned the truth. "I just cried," recalled Aleah Woodmansee, Pinegar's real-life daughter who was the inspiration for Lacey (AnnaSophia Robb). -BuzzFeed

Is the guy Gypsy meets at the sci-fi convention based on a real person?

Yes, but only loosely. Michelle Dean's BuzzFeed article that was the basis for The Act TV show mentions a real-life 35-year-old man that Gypsy met at the Visioncon sci-fi convention in 2011. However, their relationship didn't evolve gradually via texts over time. Instead, Gypsy tried to escape the convention with him that day, making it as far as his hotel room. Dee Dee learned where they were from people who had seen them, and she arrived soon after with counterfeit papers that claimed Gypsy was a minor (in reality, Gypsy was 19 at the time).

The show gives the man the name Scott and stretches out Gypsy's crush on him as they exchange texts. It culminates with her running away to be with him when he's hospitalized. Dee Dee arrives at his home the same night with the counterfeit papers that state Gypsy is a minor. The real-life incident purportedly infuriated Dee Dee so much that she used a hammer to smash the family computer.

Did Dee Dee really tie Gypsy to the bed?

Yes. Fact-checking The Act revealed this to be true. Gypsy claimed that Dee Dee tied her to the bed for two weeks after she tried to run away. The difference from the TV show is that it only happened once in real life (after running away to be with the guy she met at the sci-fi convention). Gypsy said that she was starved and terrified. Some of that terror is absent from the show and she instead acts more submissive than frightened. The real Gypsy called it one of the worst experiences of her life.

"She physically chained me to the bed, and put bells on the doors, and told anybody that I probably would have trusted that I was going through a phase," Gypsy said during a 20/20 interview.

Dee Dee Blanchard tied her daughter Gypsy Rose to the bed to punish her. She also starved her at the same time.

Did Gypsy really have three different birthdays associated with her?

Yes. In comparing The Act history vs. Hollywood, we learned that charging documents presented during Gypsy's murder case indeed revealed three different birthdays for her.

Did Gypsy's mom Dee Dee really start a phone relationship with a middle-aged man she met at a sci-fi convention?

No, there doesn't seem to be any evidence that this happened. In The Act, Gypsy's mom Dee Dee (Patricia Arquette) meets a middle-aged man (Dean Norris) at a sci-fi convention and he takes an interest in her. They get to know each other through phone calls, and the man ends up suggesting to Dee Dee that she's too heavily involved in caring for Gypsy. In reality, the only widely reported relationship that Dee Dee had was with Gypsy's father, Rod Blanchard.

Rod and Dee Dee met when Rod was still in high school. She became pregnant during their first year of dating, when he was 17 and she 24, and they decided to get married. "I woke up on my 18th birthday and realized I wasn't where I was supposed to be," Rod told Michelle Dean, author of the BuzzFeed article on which The Act is based. "I wasn't in love with her, really. I knew I got married for the wrong reasons."

Did Gypsy Rose Blanchard lose her teeth?

Yes. Her teeth began to rot and fall out as a side effect of Tegretol, a medication she was being given for epilepsy (which she didn't have).

Gypsy Rose Blanchard's teeth fell out as a side effect of Tegretol, a drug she was taking for epilepsy (that her mom Dee Dee claimed she suffered from).

Did Gypsy meet boyfriend Nick Godejohn on a Christian dating website?

Yes. The Act fact check verifies that they met online in 2012 on the Christian dating website Nick lived in Wisconsin, while Gypsy and her mother lived in Missouri. Their long-distance relationship developed through texting, and like what's seen on the Hulu TV show, they didn't actually meet in person for well over two years, in March 2015.

Did the real Nick have multiple personalities that included a 500-year-old vampire named Victor?

Yes. The real Nick Godejohn, who is reportedly on the autism spectrum, did claim to have multiple personalities. This included a good side (Nick) and a bad side (a vampire named Victor). Actor Calum Worthy attempted to embody Nick by repeatedly watching the few available videos of him. He practiced Nick's mannerisms and even mimicked his diet of mostly pizza and peanut butter.

Did a doctor really try to intervene?

Yes, In the Hulu series, we see a female doctor trying to chase down Gypsy's medical records after she becomes suspicious of Dee Dee's claims. The true story behind The Act reveals that a male doctor, pediatric neurologist Bernardo Flasterstein, did become suspicious and began to doubt the number of ailments that Dee Dee claimed were affecting Gypsy. In his file, he noted his concern regarding the possibility of Munchausen syndrome by proxy, but he didn't report it. In 2007, he informed Dee Dee about his doubts with regard to Gypsy's illnesses. It wasn't long before Dee Dee switched doctors.

Like in the TV show, one of Gypsy Rose Blanchard's doctors tried to intervene.

Did Gypsy and her boyfriend Nick Godejohn engage in sexual role-playing?

Yes. The Act shows Nick and Gypsy's BDSM role-playing unfolding online. According to Michelle Dean's BuzzFeed article, they did have certain roles and names that they used to act out various sexual fantasies. This included Gypsy dressing up like comic book character Harley Quinn.

Was the real Nick Godejohn just as caring and sincere towards Gypsy in real life?

No, at least not according to the Blanchard family. They claim that Nick was much more domineering and controlling of her in real life. They said that the Hulu TV show's portrayal of Nick as a mentally challenged young man who means well is false. The Blanchards claim that in real life Nick was significantly more in control of things, including Dee Dee's murder.

According to the documentary Mommy Dead and Dearest, it was Nick's original intention to sexually assault Dee Dee as well as murder her. To stop Nick from raping her mother, Gypsy said that she made a deal with him that he could rape her instead. She claimed that he followed through on the deal after the murder, despite pleading with him (as Victor) to stop.

Did Gypsy and Nick hook up in a movie theater bathroom?

Yes. Their sexual encounter in the movie theater bathroom in the series did happen in real life. As described in the documentary Mommy Dead and Dearest, their meet-up at the movie theater in 2015 to watch Cinderella unfolded much like it does on the Hulu TV show. Nick came to the theater alone and Dee Dee was disturbed by him trying to get close to Gypsy, who was dressed in her Cinderella costume. One difference from the show is that in real life Nick wore a Prince Charming costume, which probably freaked out Dee Dee even more. They are pictured below at the movie theater.

The real Gypsy Rose Blanchard and Nick Godejohn dressed as Cinderella and Prince Charming during their meet-up at the movie theater in 2015.

Did Nick call Dee Dee and confess that he's the guy from the movie theater and is Gypsy's boyfriend?

No. The phone call never happened in real life. In The Act, Nick Godejohn (Calum Worthy) phones Gypsy's mother Dee Dee (Patricia Arquette) and tells her he's the guy who was there when they saw Cinderella. He tells her that he's been dating Gypsy for two years and that he plans on spending the rest of his life with her and having children (the real-life Nick and Gypsy even picked out names for their children). It's hard to imagine what Dee Dee would have done to Gypsy in real life if Nick had actually made the call.

Did Dee Dee hate Gypsy's boyfriend Nick?

Yes. The Act fact check confirms that here the Hulu show is mostly in line with the true story. "She got jealous, because I was spending a little too much attention on him," Gypsy later stated on ABC News, "and she had ordered me to stay away from him. And needless to say, that was a very long argument that lasted a couple weeks. Yelling, throwing things, calling me names: bitch, slut, whore." Not long after the fight is when Gypsy began thinking about murdering her mother. "It was not because I hated her," she said. "It was because I wanted to escape her."

Actress Patricia Arquette (left) portrays Gypsy's mom Dee Dee Blanchard (right).

Did Lacey's mom, Mel, break into Dee Dee and Gypsy's home after a mysterious Facebook post?

Not exactly. In answering the question, "How accurate is The Act?" we learned that it was another neighbor, David Blanchard (no relation to Dee Dee and Gypsy), who climbed through a window to find out what happened. Friends and neighbors had indeed become alarmed after two mysterious Facebook posts (one a post and another a comment) showed up on June 14, 2015 under Dee Dee and Gypsy's joint account "Dee Gyp Blancharde". The post read, "That Bitch is dead!" As friends began expressing their concern via comments, one particular comment stood out, "I f**ken SLASHED THAT FAT PIG AND RAPED HER SWEET INNOCENT DAUGHTER...HER SCREAM WAS SO F**KEN LOUD LOL". Below is a screenshot of the actual Facebook post and comment that Gypsy Rose Blanchard posted to speed up the discovery of her mother Dee Dee's body.

Friends showed up at the house and the police arrived soon after. Dee Dee was discovered dead on her bed with 17 stab wounds in her back and she had also been slashed across the back of her neck. Her body had been laying there for several days (Springfield News-Leader). "I see a stretcher come out of the house, and there's a sheet over a body, and I just start sobbing. That was Dee Dee," recalls Gypsy's friend and neighbor Aleah Woodmansee, the basis for AnnaSophia Robb's character in The Act (20/20).

After murdering Dee Dee, did Gypsy really record a giggly video with a brownie-eating Nick?

Yes. While investigating The Act true story, we learned that the actual footage still exists, and it is almost exactly the same as what's seen in episode six of the Hulu series. The real Gypsy Rose Blanchard has conveyed embarrassment over the video, but said that she was high on drugs at the time (in the episode, she's seen taking pills to calm her nerves). She also said that she felt a sense of freedom since her mother was no longer able to control her.

Did authorities really catch Gypsy and Nick by tracing the IP address of the Facebook posts?

Yes. As we studied The Act's historical accuracy, we discovered that this is exactly what happened in real life. They traced the IP address of the two shocking Facebook posts that showed up in Dee Dee and Gypsy's joint account. The IP address led them to a home located 600 miles away from Springfield, Missouri in Big Bend, Wisconsin. It was the home of Nick Godejohn, Gypsy's boyfriend.

Actor Calum Worthy (left) in The Act and the real Nick Godejohn's mugshot (right).

Had Dee Dee really been in jail for six months when Gypsy was very young?

No. In exploring the The Act fact vs. fiction, we learned that the real Dee Dee Blanchard had only spent one night in jail. The series conflates this to a dramatic six months in prison for writing bad checks (Dee Dee did get in trouble at times for that type of crime). This was most likely done in an effort to build up the tension between Dee Dee and her mother, Emma (Margo Martindale), who cares for Gypsy while Dee Dee is in prison.

Did Dee Dee kill her mother, Emma (Gypsy's grandmother)?

This is what Dee Dee's family believes and it's conveyed in The Act when we see Dee Dee (Patricia Arquette) withholding food from her mother, Emma, before she dies. "To leave your mama dirty and asking for food, and [not] feed her, that's evil," Laura, Dee Dee’s stepmother, says in the HBO Gypsy Rose Blanchard documentary Mommy Dead and Dearest.

After Dee Dee and Rod Blanchard divorced, Dee Dee and Gypsy went to live with Dee Dee's father Claude and her stepmother Laura. In the documentary, Laura says that Dee Dee tried to poison her by slipping weed killer into her food. Laura ended up bedridden for nine months. Dee Dee was confronted at a family get-together for her control over Gypsy and Laura's illness. They kicked Dee Dee out and she moved to Slidell, after which Laura made a complete recovery.

The Act is based on the HBO documentary Mommy Dead and Dearest.

Did Dee Dee put Gypsy in a wheelchair after Gypsy fell off a trampoline?

No. In real life, Dee Dee put Gypsy in a wheelchair following a minor motorcycle accident that she had with her grandfather (Dee Dee's father).

"I did get into a motorcycle accident with my grandfather," Gypsy told Dr. Phil, "and it skinned my knee, and she took me to the hospital and then told me that the doctor gave her a wheelchair, and I have to be in a wheelchair now. ... She had me use a walker before the wheelchair, and then after that motorcycle accident, put [me] in the wheelchair." She had used a walker because Dee Dee had told her she had muscular dystrophy.

Were Dee Dee's last words to Gypsy really, "Don't hurt me, sweetie"?

Yes. In the HBO Gypsy Rose Blanchard documentary Mommy Dead and Dearest, Gypsy said that these were in fact her mother's last words to her. In the Hulu series, Dee Dee says this to Gypsy as Gypsy is saying goodnight to her, just before she lets Nick into the house to commit the murder, which in real life happened at approximately 3 am on June 10, 2015. It's true that Gypsy provided the knife, which she had stolen from Walmart. She left rubber gloves for Nick outside the front door. She stayed in the bathroom and covered her ears while Nick stabbed her mother in her mother's bedroom. The real Nick Godejohn said that Dee Dee screamed for Gypsy three times, but she never came.

"I heard her scream once, and there was more screaming, but not like the kind in a horror film," Gypsy told 20/20, "just like a startled scream, and she called out my name, about three or four times, and at that point, I wanted to go help her so bad, but I was so afraid to get up, because my body wouldn't move, and then everything just went quiet."

Top: Dee Dee and her daughter Gypsy Rose Blanchard are interviewed by KYTV in 2008 after being given a new home by Habitat for Humanity.  Bottom: Patricia Arquette and Joey King recreate the interview for The Act.

Did Nick really forget to buy a bus ticket for Gypsy?

Yes, and like in the Hulu show, it delayed them about a day. "His return bus ticket, there was no room for an extra passenger on that bus," Gypsy said during her testimony at his 2018 trial for Dee Dee's murder. "So, we had to change bus tickets, so that delayed us about a day." She said they went back to the Days Inn where he had been staying and they booked another night.

Did Gypsy and Nick mail the knife to Nick's house?

Yes. In researching The Act true story, we verified that like in the Hulu series, Gypsy and Nick mailed the murder weapon to Nick's house. During Nick Godejohn's interrogation, he said that Gypsy had the mailing envelope ready for the knife. Gypsy addressed the envelope, and when it arrived at Nick's house, they hid it in his closet in his bedroom.

Was Gypsy's father out of the picture?

For the most part, the situation with Gypsy's father, Rod Blanchard, seems to line up with what's seen in The Act. Dee Dee and Rod divorced before Gypsy was born. Gypsy was led to believe her dad was a deadbeat who had abandoned her. Dee Dee even told friends and doctors that Rod was a drug addict who didn't want anything to do with them. However, like on the show, most of this appears to have been untrue. During his occasional visits with Gypsy, Dee Dee always stayed in the room. He had remained a part of Gypsy's life until she was around 10-years-old, but it became more difficult to see Gypsy after Dee Dee moved away with her. She always made an excuse as to why he couldn't visit. He continued to send child support payments.

"She was always scared that I would get close to Gypsy. It bothered me. But I was always hoping that Gypsy would get old enough that one day we could bond," he explained to Fox News. "It got hard, it really did. But I didn't want to push it too far. Dee Dee had full custody and could cut me off completely from any kind of relationship we already had. There was a fine line I had to walk with her."

Gypsy Rose as a child with her mother Dee Dee and father Rod Blanchard.

Did Gypsy Rose Blanchard have any real medical conditions?

"The only thing that I have wrong with me," Gypsy said smiling during a 2019 prison interview with 20/20, "is, uhm, I have a little bit of a lazy eye. Not all the time, but, uhm, I have better vision in this eye than I do that eye, but that's it. ... Nothing else."

What was Gypsy Rose's punishment for her involvement in her mother Dee Dee's murder?

Gypsy was convicted of second-degree murder and is currently serving a 10-year prison sentence for her involvement in her mother Dee Dee's death. She will become eligible for parole after serving 85% of her sentence, or eight-and-a-half years. As for Gypsy's boyfriend, Nick Godejohn, he was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison.

Gypsy Rose's mugshot and in particular her subsequent courtroom appearance shocked friends, family and the public, who believed that she needed a wheelchair. Joey King (left) recreates the mugshot for the TV show.

Had Gypsy's boyfriend Nick Godejohn previously been arrested?

The show hints at the fact that Nick had been arrested in the past, which he brushes off as a misunderstanding. Fact-checking The Act uncovered that the real Nick Godejohn was arrested in 2013 for watching pornography on his laptop inside a McDonald's for nearly nine hours, during which time he was seen with his hand down his pants masturbating. Nick claimed that he was just scratching himself.

Did actress Joey King speak to the real Gypsy Rose Blanchard prior to filming the series?

"No, I was not able to get in contact with her," Joey King said in a Build Series interview. In a separate interview with the Today show, the actress elaborated, "Legally, I wasn't allowed to. I don't even understand all the reasons." Instead, the actress turned to Michelle Dean, who wrote the Buzzfeed article about Gypsy and had been in contact with her. Dean was also a producer and writer on The Act Hulu series.

Of Gypsy, actress Joey King said, "If she sees it one day, I think it'll be really, really hard for her to watch. I think it'll be hard for them to watch other people play them, number one, and also this is like reliving your truth, and so I can't even imagine what that would be like if they saw it."

Does Dee Dee and Gypsy Rose Blanchard's pink house still exist?

Yes. The real-life little pink house that was built for Dee Dee and Gypsy Rose Blanchard by Habitat For Humanity still exists. It's located in Springfield, Missouri. Since the release of the Hulu TV show, neighbors have become frustrated with all the tourists driving by, many stopping outside of the house and even peering through the windows. As of 2019, the house in which Dee Dee Blanchard was murdered remains empty. The pink house seen in The Act TV series is a copy that was built in Rincon, Georgia where the series was filmed.

Top: Dee Dee and Gypsy Rose Blanchard's pink house in Springfield, Missouri.  Bottom: The house that was built for the Hulu show in Rincon, Georgia.

Does the real Gypsy Rose Blanchard approve of The Act?

No. Corresponding via email, the real Gypsy told the women's magazine Bustle:

"I am unable to watch The Act. However, I feel it is very unfair and unprofessional that producers and co-producer Michelle Dean has used my actual name and story without my consent, and the life rights to do so. Therefore, there will be legal action taken against the show's creators. I want to share my story and bring awareness about Munchausen by proxy, in the hopes that I can encourage those who might be experiencing abuse to speak up, because someone WILL listen. No child should ever be abused especially from their parent."

Kristy Blanchard, Gypsy's stepmother, said The Act's writer and co-producer, Michelle Dean, cut off all contact with the family while the series was being made. The family also claims that they were promised some of the profits from the series, which never happened. This explains why actress Joey King was never allowed to meet the real Gypsy.

Left: Gypsy Rose Blanchard stuns the public when she appears on the news walking into court without a wheelchair.  Right: Several years later Gypsy appears in a prison interview with Dr. Phil.

Gypsy Rose Blanchard Interviews & Related Videos

Broaden your knowledge of the true story behind The Act by watching videos of the real Gypsy Rose Blanchard and Nicholas Godejohn describing the murder of Dee Dee Blanchard.

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