The murder of Betsy Faria rattled a small town in Missouri in 2011, but what was presented as an open-and-shut case involving her husband has turned out to not be so simple. The case went on to become the subject of a Dateline episode and a 2019 podcast and is now hitting the silver screen for a Renee Zellweger-led limited series on NBC.
Among the star-studded cast is Gideon Adlon, who plays Betsy’s daughter Mariah Day. Ahead of the premiere, Adlon graciously opened up about the intrigue of true crime, being respectful about portraying the worst moment of someone’s private life and what else she has in store for the year.
Are you a fan of true crime?
Oh, definitely. It’s one of those things where I could be listening to My Favorite Murder while cleaning my dishes and then the waters running a little too strong, so I have to turn the water off, dry my hands and go back a minute on the podcast to listen. I need every detail. I love it. It's like a puzzle.
Was it especially exciting then to join a project like The Thing About Pam?
I felt very honored to be chosen for this project. It's obviously a very intense subject, and while you're filming something or in a project that is true crime, you have to remember that these are real people who were affected by this. And of course it was exciting to work with this incredible cast and we all got so close to each other. The story is very enticing... I want justice for the family.
Tell me about your character Mariah. How would you describe her?
Mariah is the youngest daughter of Betsy Faria. She was only 17 when all this happened, and she's extremely strong, very observant and forgiving. And with her being so observant, she's the one that really believed Russ out of everybody. She’s just really been through the ringer and is very sweet, very smart and actually extremely artistic. She's a great writer too.
How did you prepare for the role?
I feel like in any situation when someone is playing a real person, you want to pay tribute to them and make sure that you can ring on the side of truth as much as possible in your portrayal of them, especially someone that is still here walking on the same Earth as we are.
Jenny Klein and I— the writer and creator of the show— we got very close and we had dinners and I would call her and and we would talk and meet up. It was just very important that we were as respectful as we can be. It's tough because it's Hollywood, but Jenny was specifically so respectful towards the family and the story. I did a lot of prep with her. And then on my own, I listened to the podcast, I read all the articles, I watched videos on YouTube of certain detectives that were part of this being interviewed. I tried to dig up everything that I possibly could to honestly prepare for this. It's my duty.
What do you find intriguing about Mariah’s storyline?
It's a situation where she was extremely manipulated. She was so young. From all of that, she tried to trust her instincts, she tried to talk to people, but ultimately it didn't go her way. It's something that I think the family is still dealing with.
It's just a true story and it really shows the heartbreak that one person can cause a huge rift in the family.
I guess what I want people to take away from this is that no matter what angle they take on how Pam lived her life at this time and what she did and the manipulation tactics she used, she really hurt a family and tore people apart and turned people against someone they loved, and that is something that still impacting their lives to this day.
View this post on Instagram
How do you think it stands out from other true crime series?
I've never heard a story like this. And it's interesting—a lot of my friends and family members, they're like, “Oh my god, I listened to that podcast that was the most out of pocket story.” There's nothing like it. The levels this woman went to, it's riveting. Every true crime story is different, but this is just wild. It's very out there, and then that's why I think people are so drawn to it.
Do you have any other projects that you are looking forward to this year?
I have some animated films coming out. I don't know if I'm allowed to say what they are yet, but keep an eye out. One of them is Pacific Rim on Netflix, which comes out soon, and then I have two more, but I’m not allowed to talk about those yet. And then I have a movie called Sick. It’s with Miramax. I shot it over the summer. It’s a pandemic thriller; Kevin Williams wrote it. It was really fun to do a movie like that.
You've done a fair amount of voice work. What do you enjoy about it?
It's just as fulfilling as being on camera. I love everybody behind the scenes. It's really fun to do goofy characters… It runs in my blood. My mom has done a lot of voiceover work too. It feels like home.
This interview has been edited and condensed. The Thing About Pam airs Tuesdays on NBC.
Photography by: Timothy Fernandez