'The Thing About Pam' Cast: What the Actors and Real-Life People Are Saying About the Show

The Thing About Pam may seem too far-fetched to be real, but it is based on the actual 2011 murder of Betsy Faria.

The case shocked the nation, becoming the subject of several Dateline episodes, and is stirring up attention once again through NBC's true-crime series, which airs on Tuesdays.

In real life, Betsy's husband Russ Faria was charged with killing his wife in 2012 and found guilty by a jury in 2013 following testimony from key witness Pamela "Pam" Hupp, despite him having an alibi and police finding no blood on him at the time.

Russ Faria's conviction was overturned by a judge in 2015 and he was released from prison.

Both Russ Faria and his attorney Joel Schwartz helped advise the writers and showrunner Jenny Klein in the creation of the NBC show. They, and the show's cast, have shared their thoughts on the case.

What The Actors and Real Life People Are Saying About The Thing About Pam

Renée Zellweger spoke to Newsweek about the true-crime drama, saying she particularly liked the way the show balances dark humor with the horrors of the case it examines.

Zellweger told Newsweek: "I love an opportunity to be cheeky with something. What's interesting is we wanted to be really careful with how we navigated the tongue-in-cheek because it's tragic.

"There's a lot of suffering and loss involved in this case, obviously. So you want to be careful and honorable to the memory of Betsy Faria and what her family experienced.

"But we just found that it was Pam's choices that she made, the things that are on public record from her interviews, the information that she shared, her personal narrative, it was impossible to tell it without introducing levity, because of the absurdity."

The Academy Award winner went on: "It's the juxtaposition of the making you comfortable to laugh and then the tragedy that's ongoing in this story that makes you stop for a second and really feel the gravity of the consequences, the decisions and the choices that this person made. I think without it, it's much more difficult to kind of tiptoe in the underlying themes."

The real-life Pam is currently serving a life sentence in prison for the 2016 murder of Louis Gumpenberger, and therefore has not spoken about the NBC show.

However, showrunner Klein told Newsweek: "The people we interviewed who were still in contact with Pam Hupp did let us know that Pam was aware we were making this show."

She added: "In our research process, we were fortunate to interview some people close to Pam Hupp, and that shed light on some of the family dynamics at play here."

Schwartz, who is portrayed by Josh Duhamel in the show, explained to KSDK that he and his client were very involved in the project.

"The writers and the showrunner spent upwards of 60 hours just with Russ and myself in communication just to make sure they were truthful to the story," he explained.

Russ Faria added: "I think they've done a really good job of staying true to the story as much as they could. I spoke to the writers just last week and they were very excited and wanted to let me know and thank me for all my hard work and time working with them."

Duhamel also spoke to the news station, saying that he found it helpful to get to know Schwartz in the process of preparing for the show because it made it "easy" for him to portray him.

Klein told Newsweek: "I remember Josh Duhamel's first day as Joel, we were filming the scene in [episode] 2 at Joel's house when Joel and Nate theorize about the 'murder slippers' (a term that the real Joel and Nate jokingly used), and Josh asked what kind of liquor Joel drinks. I texted Joel, and he replied: 'Bourbon!' So, Josh drank bourbon in that scene."

Glenn Fleshler, who takes on the role of Russ Faria, told KSDK that he was initially hesitant to speak to his real-life counterpart because of the pressure he felt to tell his story, and wrongful conviction, right.

"Normally I'd jump at the chance to meet the person I was playing but I was so daunted by this project that I quickly scrambled to wrap my brain around playing Russ," Fleshler explained. He added that when he did speak to Faria, "he took me so much deeper into his story and his pain and the humanity of it all."

The Thing About Pam airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. EST on NBC.

Update 03/18/2022, 6.55 a.m. ET: This article was updated to include Newsweek's interview with showrunner Jenny Klein.

The Thing About Pam
Renée Zellweger as Pam Hupp in "The Thing About Pam", and the real-life Pam Hupp who is currently serving a life sentence in prison. NBC/St Charles Missouri Police Department