Sarah Paulson To Star In Scripted Adaptation Of ‘The Way Down’ Docuseries

Sarah Paulson has played a number of complex real-life women on screen – Linda Tripp, Marcia Clark, Tony Bradlee – how about another? The actor has signed on to portray Gwen Shamblin in an upcoming scripted adaptation of HBO Max docuseries The Way Down: God, Greed, and the Cult of Gwen Shamblin.

Shamblin was best known for her Weigh Down Workshop, a Christian dieting program that advocated restrictive eating practices. She also founded the Remnant Fellowship Church and was a vocal supporter of former president Donald Trump. Her sudden death from a plane crash in 2021 brought renewed attention to her work as a weight guru and church leader.

Shamblin was accused of intense physical, psychological, and emotional abuse during her lifetime, and allegations of abuse continued after her death. Her church has also been accused of having cult-like practices.

Michelle Dean (The Act) will serve as showrunner on the show. The documentary series only premiered on HBO Max this month but has already captured people’s attention. HBO obviously see plenty of value in squeezing another piece of content out of it, even though audiences will already have all the information and know the true story.

This practice has become prevalent over the last decade, with shows like The Dropout, The Staircase, and The Girl from Plainville serving as dramatized, scripted versions of well-liked documentaries. These shows naturally haven’t had the same impact as their documentary predecessors, but maybe The Way Down can buck the trend with the terrific Paulson in the lead.

Paulson just won an Emmy for her role as Tripp in Impeachment: American Crime Story, so HBO are striking while the iron is hot. She’s currently working on season two of Netflix’s Ratched.


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