‘A Friend Of The Family’s Lio Tipton: It ‘Surprised’ Them How ‘Easy It Is To Vilify’ Gail (Exclusive)

Lio Tipton stars as Gail Berchtold in 'A Friend of the Family.' The actor spoke EXCLUSIVELY with HL about seeing Gail as an 'unknowing victim,' having Jan Broberg so involved with the show, and more.

A Friend of the Family explores the jaw-dropping true story of the Broberg family and Jan Broberg, who was kidnapped multiple times over a period of years by a charismatic family “friend” named Robert “B” Berchtold. Lio Tipton, who plays B’s wife, Gail Berchtold, told HollywoodLife EXCLUSIVELY that they were “not familiar” with the Broberg story when they were cast in the show. “I was just amazed how deep the story went, how complicated and convoluted and confusing the whole situation was in reality. I plunged straight in,” Lio said.

The Brobergs’ harrowing story first came into the spotlight in the Netflix documentary Abducted in Plain Sight, and now Peacock is diving into the shocking twists and turns in a limited series. There’s been debate over how much Gail knew about what her husband was doing and if she was ever an accomplice.

Lio Tipton
Lio Tipton as Gail Berchtold. (Peacock)

Lio revealed how they perceived Gail in the midst of the nightmare her husband created. Lio admitted that they were “surprised with how easy it is to vilify her [Gail] because I did not see that going into it. I immediately saw someone who was groomed. I immediately saw someone who I saw as an unknowing victim of the situation. It shocks me how quick people are to point fingers or to assume or to blame. I think that was something really important in the story in general. That’s why Jan Broberg, who’s a producer on this, wanted to tell it in the first place so that people understand this can happen, that it’s real. It’s much more complicated than just a list of events.”

Lio called Gail and B’s relationship “uncomfortable” and said “it almost doesn’t make sense because B switches who he is for everyone. You can just see how he wants to pull people in or not. During this time, Gail was basically trying to hold back a car from going off a cliff desperately, and B’s sitting there jumping on the hood.”

Jan Broberg actively participated in making A Friend Of The Family. She is one of the producers of the Peacock series. For Lio, Jan’s involvement was invaluable.

Lio Tipton
Lio Tipton at the ‘Friend of the Family’ screening event. (Peacock)

“I think the fact that Jan was involved, how much she was involved, how willing how much she was willing to give and support was a huge part of the success of the production and how we felt walking away,” Lio told HollywoodLife. “Because to tell something like that, you need someone in the flesh. The fact that she had gone through this brings a level of reality that you don’t often get on set with difficult characters. A lot of these times we’re acting in front of a green screen and having to do people that we never relate to, but in this situation, as nuts as it might sound, it is real. I think it was so encouraging, and I hope it’s encouraging for viewers to see someone who has collected these broken pieces and is telling her story the right way on such a difficult topic that is not pretty to talk about.”

A Friend of the Family will premiere on Peacock on October 6 with the first 4 episodes. The remaining 5 episodes will drop weekly on Thursdays through November 10.

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