Jennifer Grey followed Jamie Lee Curtis's wig advice when transforming into diet guru Gwen Shamblin: 'I do what she says'
Jennifer Grey knew she couldn't wear a "cheap wig" to play faith-based diet founder Gwen Shamblin Lara.
She told Entertainment Tonight that Jamie Lee Curtis suggested the wig maker who worked on "Blonde."
Grey said Lara's beliefs "grew into some very cult-like behaviors."
Jennifer Grey recently told Matt Cohen of Entertainment Tonight that she laid down ground rules before accepting the role of Gwen Shamblin Lara in the upcoming Lifetime movie "Gwen Shamblin: Starving for Salvation."
"I said, 'Well, I will do this part under conditions. Number one, I need major wigs because I know that wigs are expensive.' And I know that if I had some cheap wig on me, it was not gonna work," Grey remembered.
While explaining her dilemma to her friend Jamie Lee Curtis, the "Halloween" star recommended that Grey use Rob Pickens, the wigmaker on Curtis's famed horror movie franchise. Pickens most recently recreated Marilyn Monroe's locks for Ana De Arma's Academy Award-nominated portrayal of the bombshell for Netflix's "Blonde."
"When she tells me with that kind of stern voice, I do what she says, and so I called him," Grey explained. Made-for-television movies generally have smaller budgets than classic horror franchise films or streaming biopics about Hollywood icons. But the "Dirty Dancing" star was right about Lara's hair arguably being her most recognizable characteristic. Therefore her elaborate wig had to look realistic.
Lara was the founder of a faith-based diet program "The Weigh Down Workshop" and the author of four books based on her teachings. She also founded Remnant Fellowship Church based on her beliefs. One of the primary messages of the church was to transfer your obsession with food and other needs and desires into an obsession with God. In the 2021 docu-series "The Way Down," former followers of the church accused Shamblin of promoting child abuse.
It also featured the story of Joseph and Sonya Smith, who were followers of Lara and were convicted of murdering their son Josef in 2007. Josef died from "blows to the head" in October 2003, NBC News reported. Lara died in a plane crash in 2021.
Grey told Entertainment Tonight that Lara "really married shame and low self-esteem and basically said, 'This is it. God is the answer for that.'" She added that Lara's beliefs "grew into some very cult-like behaviors."
"The more powerful she became, the bigger her hair got. The higher the hair, the closer to God," Grey said. She also worked with a dialect coach to help her fully embody Lara.
"Gwen Shamblin: Starving for Salvation" premieres February 4 at 8 p.m. ET on Lifetime.
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