Adapted from a “true crime” podcast, the six-episode mini-series “The thing about Pam”, which will be released in March in the United States, will see Renée Zellweger play Pam Hupp, a woman in her sixties and former life insurance manager, who was convicted of the murder of Louis Gumpenberger, before being charged with the murder of her friend Betsy Faria a few years earlier.
The real Hupp is currently serving a life sentence for the murder of Louis Gumpenberger. The man, who suffered from severe mental and physical disabilities, was shot dead in 2016 at Hupp’s home in O’Fallon, Missouri. Hupp’s claim that she had shot Gumpenberger in self-defense after being chased and threatened with a knife did not convince, and Hupp eventually pleaded guilty.
Pam Hupp was later also investigated in connection with the death of her friend Betsy Faria in December 2011. Faria’s husband, Russ Faria, was found guilty of murdering his wife in November 2013 , but was later retried and ultimately acquitted.
Four days before her murder, Betsy, who had been diagnosed with terminal cancer, made Hupp the beneficiary of her $150,000 life insurance policy in place of her husband. Hupp had been the last person to see her alive after picking her up from her mother following a chemotherapy appointment. At the time, Hupp said she dropped Betsy at her house around 7 p.m. While Russ was still at a friend’s house. When Russ arrived home that evening, he had found Betsy’s body and told the police that she had committed suicide.
After Hupp was indicted in July 2021 for Betsy’s murder, prosecutor Mike Wood said he would seek the death penalty in the case. “What I can say is we have a person who not only murdered his friend, then mutilated the body, staged the murder, testified against an innocent man, then murdered someone to prevent be considered suspicious,” he said at a press conference in July 2021. “I can’t find a more depraved case than that,” he added.
According to the American press which echoed the details of the case, the data from Hupp’s phone had indeed indicated that Gumpenberger was not an alien, as Hupp had claimed – the analysis of his GPS had shown that she was in her apartment, 21 kilometers from her home, less than an hour before the fatal confrontation. It would therefore be a witness in the Faria case that Hupp would have made disappear…
BREAKING: Pam Hupp has entered an Alford plea. She is pleading guilty to murder 1st and armed criminal action in the death of Louis Gumpenberger. But an Alford plea means she does not admit she committed the offenses. @KMOV #pamhupp pic.twitter.com/zMXFqWmxp7
— Alexis Zotos (@alexiszotos) June 19, 2019
Zellweger under fire from critics
The Thing about Pam marks the big return of Renée Zellweger to the small screen, three years after the failure of the sulphurous series What / if, on Netflix.
A return that is already causing a lot of talk and not just for its subject… Transformed for this role, the actress has indeed worn a “fat suit”, that is to say a magnifying prosthesis supposed to give the impression that she really took several tens of kilos.
Renee Zellweger gets back int ‘fat suit’ to transform into convicted murderer Pam Hupp as she continues work on new true crime series https://t.co/YWKhCIC028 #reneezellweger #pamhupp pic.twitter.com/q38D3pD3EB
— Lipstick Alley (@lipstickalley) October 14, 2021
Considered fatphobic, this is not the first time that this use of the magnifying combination has been controversial across the Atlantic. Before Zellwzeger, Gwyneth Paltrow had to apologize for wearing one in the movie Extra Large Love. Allocine notes that Sarah Paulson, who also used a jumpsuit in season 3 of American Crime Story, recently gave her views on this very sensitive subject in the United States.
“It’s hard for me to talk about it without giving the impression that I’m looking for excuses,” the actress told the Los Angeles Times. “There’s a real controversy about actors wearing fat suits, and it’s a legitimate controversy. Grossophobia exists. To claim otherwise would be dangerous. This is a very important topic to talk about. But the actors who choose to embark on what could well be the challenge of a lifetime are not, in my opinion, the only ones responsible”, she considers adding that “to think that the only thing an actor chooses for this or that role can bring is his physical appearance is very reductive. I want to think that there is something about me that makes me the right person for this role. (…) Should I have said no to this role? That is the question”.
Renee Zellweger looks unrecognizable in a controversial ‘fat suit’ as she transforms into convicted killer Pam Hupp https://t.co/jJ9w8zdP8n
— Daily Mail Celebrity (@DailyMailCeleb) October 6, 2021
Will this controversy around the combination be detrimental to The thing about Pam? Answer on March 8, launch date on the American channel NBC of the series also worn by Josh Duhamel, Judy Greer, and Katy Mixon (American Housewife).