Renée Zellweger has undergone plenty of remarkable transformations for roles throughout her career, but few have been as shocking as her look for the upcoming NBC series The Thing About Pam.
For her latest role, the Oscar winner has been photographed in facial prosthetics, a fat suit and a bright blonde wig while filming in New Orleans. (In October 2021, the actress’ boyfriend, Ant Anstead, was spotted visiting her on set while she was in costume.) The Judy actress is starring as titular character Pam Hupp in the series, which is based on a Dateline NBC podcast about the real-life murder of Betsy Faria.
“It goes beyond just the peculiarity of the story or the audacity of the behavior of everybody involved,” Zellweger told Keith Morrison during an October 2021 Blumfest interview, explaining her interest in the project. “It’s sort of a glaring illustration of currently topical social issues. … It also speaks to, I guess you could call it white lady privilege in America. And also, it kinda has an interesting look at the sad invisibility of middle-aged women in America and how in the most bizarre circumstances it can work to someone’s advantage, as is probably the case in Pam Hupp’s story.”
The real Hupp is currently serving a life sentence for the murder of Louis Gumpenberger, but she has also been investigated in connection with the December 2011 death of Faria. Faria’s husband, Russ Faria, was convicted of her murder in November 2013, but he was later retried and acquitted of the charges.
In July 2021, investigators questioned Hupp about Betsy’s death, later charging her with first-degree murder. Hupp, a former life insurance administrator, entered a not guilty plea.
Four days before her murder, Betsy, who had been diagnosed with terminal cancer, made Hupp the beneficiary of her $150,000 life insurance policy instead of her husband. Hupp was the last person to see her alive after picking her up from her mother’s house following a chemotherapy appointment. At the time, Hupp said that she dropped Betsy off at home around 7 p.m. while Russ was still at a friend’s house. When Russ arrived home that night, he found Betsy’s body and told police she had died by suicide.
After Hupp was charged in connection with Betsy’s murder, prosecutor Mike Wood said that he would seek the death penalty in the case. “What I can say is that we have a person who not only murdered her friend, then mutilated the body, staged the scene, testified against an innocent man, and then once he was acquitted, went and murdered someone in St. Charles County to prevent herself from being considered as a suspect,” he said during a July 2021 press conference. “I can’t pick a case more depraved than that.”
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