Like so many actors, Betty Gilpin made her TV debut on an episode of Law & Order, but her career got off to a questionable start when she was accidentally left in a body bag on set.
Gilpin recalled the harrowing moment in a Thursday appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. "For the first couple years of my career, it was only theater and Law & Order," said the Gaslit star, adding that she's played "a pedophile with vocal fry" on SVU and "a lesbian with acne" on the "mothership" Law & Order series.
"I was a dead body on Criminal Intent, and within the same year I was an alive person. Same season. They were like, 'No one cares. No one remembers you,'" she continued. In the dead body episode, Gilpin played Fran Drescher's daughter, who was found "naked in an oil drum" by Vincent D'Onofrio's Detective Robert Goren. "This was my first job ever, and I remember them zipping up the body bag. Vincent D'Onofrio had like a grumbly scene over my body bag, and I just had to sort of be in there."
But when producers called "cut," no one came for Gilpin, who was still zipped inside the body bag. "I hear footsteps on gravel getting farther and farther away. Van doors closing," she told Fallon. "And then 10 seconds goes by, I hear one faraway PA being like, 'Oh my God.' Footsteps coming towards me — unzips — sunlight in my face. 'Let's get you out of there!'"
Gilpin joked that she's grateful for the PA because she "didn't want to be high maintenance" by calling for help. "I wanted to work again the same season."
The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon airs weeknights at 11:35 PM ET on NBC. Gaslit, in which Gilpin plays Mo Dean, premieres Sunday, April 24 at 8:00 PM ET on Starz.
Claire Spellberg Lustig is the TV Editor at Primetimer and a scholar of The View. Follow her on Twitter at @c_spellberg.