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Sarah Paulson Cast as Cult Leader Gwen Shamblin in HBO Max's The Way Down

The actress will once again fill a real person's shoes in the scripted adaptation of the HBO Max docuseries.
  • Sarah Paulson, Gwen Shamblin Lara. (Photos: Everett Collection, HBO Max)
    Sarah Paulson, Gwen Shamblin Lara. (Photos: Everett Collection, HBO Max)

    Sarah Paulson is starring in a true story again. 

    After her award-winning turns in The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story as Marcia Clark and Impeachment: American Crime Story as Linda Tripp, Paulson will star as Gwen Shamblin in HBO Max's scripted adaptation of its own docuseries The Way Down

    The Way Down: God, Greed, and the Cult of Gwen Shamblin tells the story of Gwen Shamblin Lara's transformation from weight loss guru to cult leader. According to both ex-congregants of her Tennessee church Remnant Fellowship and ex-members of her Weigh Down Workshop, Shamblin Lara's dangerous, controlling behavior mirrored that of a cult leader. Shamblin Lara was accused of emotional, psychological, and physical abuse by her former followers.

    The first three episodes were released in September 2021. After Shamblin Lara's death in a plane crash in May 2021, producers of the docuseries held off on releasing the final two episodes until April of this year, edited and updated to reflect the accident and what followed.

    The scripted series is still in the development phase and is set to be showrun by Michelle Dean, co-creator of award-winning Hulu limited series The Act


    Jade Budowski is a freelance writer with a knack for ruining punchlines and harboring dad-aged celebrity crushes. She was previously a reporter/producer at Decider and is a member of the Television Critics Association. Follow her on Twitter: @jadebudowski.

    TOPICS: Sarah Paulson