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Sarah Paulson to Play Big-Haired Cult Leader Gwen Shamblin in HBO Max Project

Sarah Paulson and Gwen Shamblin. Photo-Illustration: Vulture; Photos by Variety via Getty Images and Gwen Shamblin Lara/YouTube

One thing Sarah Paulson’s gonna do is dress up as real-life people. But this time, she’s leaving behind the Ryan Murphy–produced crime anthologies for the HBO Max scripted adaptation of The Way Down: God, Greed, and the Cult of Gwen Shamblin. Paulson is set to play Shamblin, a diet coach turned cult leader accused of exerting profound control over the lives of her congregants and followers. The real-life Shamblin founded the Weigh Down Workshop, a Christian-based diet program that later metastasized into the Remnant Fellowship Church, two members of which were found guilty of the murder and assault of their 8-year-old son. Chronicling Shamblin’s rise up to her untimely death in a plane crash just months before the series premiere in September 2021, the documentary became HBO Max’s “most-watched docuseries debut,” according to the streamer. Paulson will also executive-produce this scripted version with The Act’s Michelle Dean as showrunner. Here’s to hoping the wig budget is high — lord knows a cheap lace-front cannot capture the spectacle that was Gwen Shamblin’s hair.

Sarah Paulson to Play Big-Haired Cult Leader Gwen Shamblin