Rene Zellweger has immersed herself in roles many times, but even she admits her latest takes that to a whole new level.
The two-time Oscar winner (for “Cold Mountain” and “Judy”) makes an extremely rare television appearance in NBC’s limited series “The Thing About Pam,” a true crime story premiering Tuesday, March 8. Based on a case that’s inspired by several “Dateline NBC” episodes and a popular podcast, the tale — which balances hard facts with quirky fantasy — also stars Glenn Fleshler (“Billions”) as a man convicted of murdering his wife (Katy Mixon, “Mike & Molly”), though he maintained his innocence and was eventually cleared.
Russ Faria (Glenn Fleshler) gets some bad news in “The Thing About Pam,” premiering Tuesday, March 8 on NBC.
– Courtesy of NBC
However, a friend of the victim was also involved, the eccentric Pam Hupp (Zellweger). The nature of the bond between the two women became of great interest to investigators and the two attorneys (played by Josh Duhamel and Judy Greer), who were on opposite sides of the husband’s legal situation.
Almost all of Zellweger’s previous television work took place before his star turn in “Jerry Maguire.” She says returning to the medium, “I enjoyed it a lot. I think it suits me. I like the pace. I like that it’s fast and you have to think fast on your feet.. .not so different from making independent films.You have to make the most of the little time you have.
Yet for Zellweger, “The Thing About Pam” involved makeup and prosthetic work that began at four hours a day. (It was eventually reduced to just over half that.)
“It’s part of your toolbox that makes it easier to achieve what you’re trying to do,” Zellweger explains, “in terms of telling someone else’s story. And the further you are from yourself , the safer you feel exploring.”
For Renée Zellweger, who plays Pam Hupp, NBC’s “The Thing About Pam” involved makeup and prosthetic work that started at four hours a day.
– Courtesy of NBC
“The Thing About Pam” marks a collaboration between somewhat unlikely partners NBC News Studios and Blumhouse, the production company known for its low-budget, high-grossing horror films.
“When a two-time Oscar winner calls me up and says, ‘I’m obsessed with this story, and I want to play Pam, and I want to produce’…I mean, you’re like, ‘Yes, yes, yes and yes'” , muses the head of Blumhouse, Chris McCumber. “Our job, at this point, is to provide Renee and the rest of the cast with all the tools they need to portray these characters.”
Zellweger notes, “I binged the podcast, actually, when I was driving up and down (California’s) 5 Freeway, I was going to take my dog to get his hip replaced in San Francisco. And I couldn’t believe it. It was just an escalating experience of absurdities, and I felt like it would be something really interesting to explore further.”