Renée Zellweger Turns to a True-Crime Project on TV


Special to Circling the News

Renée Zellweger as Pam Hupp in a scene from “The Thing About Pam.”
Photo: Skip Bolen/NBC

It might require more than a double-take to realize that’s former Palisadian Renée Zellweger in a new NBC miniseries about a murderous friend.

The real-life woman she plays in “The Thing About Pam” measures about twice Zellweger’s width.

We’ll get to the size difference in a moment.

“The Thing About Pam” is a true-crime story about a woman murdered in her suburban St. Louis home in 2011. The last person to see her alive was her so-called friend, Pam Hupp. The crime was covered on “Dateline” and turned into a podcast in 2019. Last July, 10 years after the murder, Hupp was charged with the crime.

And during that 10-year stretch, Hupp was convicted of a different murder for which she’s serving a life prison sentence.

Renée Zellweger was one of more than 20-million people to download the “Dateline” podcast. She recently told reporters on a Zoom call that she listened to the story of “The Thing About Pam” while on a long drive.

“I binged the podcast, actually, when I was driving up and down the 5 Freeway, going to take my dog to get his hip replaced up in San Francisco.”

She says “this is one of those stories that you couldn’t make up.”

“It was, like, just an experience of escalating absurdities.”

The podcast got her thinking “it would be a really interesting … show.”

So Zellweger is both executive producer and star.

She studied the real Pam Hupp’s court appearances and interviews. And she read “about human behavior and what might motivate certain choices.”

To look like Hupp, Zellweger did not gain weight like she did years earlier to star in the Bridget Jones movies. For the Hupp character, she would have had to gain much more. So she turned to prosthetics.

“I’m new to it, with the exception of tiny bits and pieces that I’ve used in performances before. This one was the most comprehensive and involved.”

At the beginning of filming it took about four hours to add the prosthetic pieces to Zellweger’s face and body. As filming progressed, it was down to two or two and a-half hours.

“Every day, I learned something new, not just about, you know, how the pieces are built, how they have minds of their own, and what they become during the day isn’t quite what they begin as in the morning.”

Instead of being tedious, Zellweger says the process was fun.

“It was fun creatively. I mean, that might make me a crazy person to find that fun, gluing stuff to your head every day, but I did find it fun.”

“The Thing About Pam” is a six-part miniseries airing on Tuesdays. It premieres March 8 on NBC.

Renée Zellweger on the red carpet for “The Thing About Pam.”
Photo: Todd Williamson/NBC

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