Renee Zellweger addresses fat suit backlash over The Thing About Pam role

Renee Zellweger has insisted she treated the role of her plus-size character in The Thing About Pam with care, following immense backlash over her casting. 

The Bridget Jones’ Diary actress recently starred in the NBC series as real-life killer Pam Hupp, a businesswoman who was arrested for murder. 

Before the drama’s release, photos from set emerged of Zellweger, 53, wearing a fat suit sparking backlash with many questioning why a plus-size actress wasn’t cast in the first place. Some argued that fat suits essentially ‘mock fat people’ while others described the use of such prosthetics as ‘damaging and triggering’. 

Plus-size writer Sarah Alexander told at the time: ‘There are plenty of incredibly talented plus-size actresses that could have been hired for the role instead of Zellweger. Why were they overlooked and a fat suit considered a viable option?

‘For Zellweger to masquerade as a plus-size person is damaging, fatphobic and potentially triggering to other plus-size people. It seems like she has not considered the effects this will have on fat people, and is unaware and/or naive that she is adding to the stigma fat people already face on a daily basis.’

Reflecting on the furore that erupted last year, Zellweger told The Sunday Times: ‘Look, you want to be respectful and responsible. 

‘There’s always a limit to how much you can establish an authentic approximation without being distracting.’ 

The photos of Zellweger emerged in October 2021 just weeks after Sarah Paulson was criticised for wearing a fat suit for her role as Linda Tripp in American Crime Story.

One unimpressed viewer urged people to ‘hire fat actors’, saying fat suits are ‘dehumanising’.

Paulson later responded to the criticism, saying she ‘would not make the same choice going forward’ and that fatphobia was ‘an important conversation to have’. 

Zellweger’s NBC true crime drama saw Zellweger portray Hupp, who is serving a life-sentence in prison. 

In 2016, Hupp murdered Louis Gumpenberger, who had severe mental and physical impairments, shooting him in her home in Missouri. Hupp claimed she shot Gumpenberger in self-defence, but this was not accepted by law enforcement.

The Thing About Pam is available to watch on Amazon Prime Video in the UK.

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