‘Happy Face’: James Wolk Joins Paramount+ Series From Robert & Michelle King

EXCLUSIVE: James Wolk (Ordinary Joe) has been tapped as a lead opposite Annaleigh Ashford and Dennis Quaid in Paramount+ upcoming drama series Happy Face. Quaid will play the titular role of the real-life serial killer notoriously called “Happy Face” because of the smiley faces he drew on evidence where he bragged about his crimes. Ashford stars as his daughter, Melissa.

Happy Face is inspired by the true-life story of Melissa Moore; the Happy Face podcast from iHeartPodcasts and Moore; and the autobiography Shattered Silence, written by Moore with M. Bridget Cook.

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In the series, jumping off from Moore’s true-life story. Happy Face (Quaid) is an incarcerated serial killer who also is Melissa’s (Ashford) once-beloved father. After decades of no contact, he finally finds a way to force himself back into his daughter’s life. In a race against the clock, Melissa must find out if an innocent man is going to be put to death for a crime her father committed. Throughout, she discovers the impact her father had on his victims’ families and must face a reckoning of her own identity.

Wolk plays Melissa’s handsome, fit husband, a “bank manager by day, marathon-trainer by night.” He knows Melissa’s carefully hidden secret but thinks they have left all that trauma and strain behind them for good. When he learns that the past has reached out again to interrupt their orderly lives, he’s not happy about it, and feels that Melissa is being manipulated once again by a conniving sociopath.

The eight-episode first season of Happy Face, produced by CBS Studios in association with King Size Productions, iHeartPodcasts and Semi-Formal Productions, will begin filming this spring in Vancouver and premiere exclusively on Paramount+ globally in 2025.

Jennifer Cacicio – who also serves as showrunner – executive produces alongside Robert and Michelle King, Liz Glotzer, Melissa Moore, Conal Byrne, Will Pearson, Michael Showalter — who will direct the first episode — and Jordana Mollick.

This marks Wolk’s return to Paramount+ where he headlined Season 1 of thriller anthology series Tell Me a Story on predecessor CBS All Access. At CBS Studios, he headlined drama Zoo, which aired on CBS for three seasons. Wolk most recently played the lead in Ordinary Joe, which ran on NBC for one season. His series starring roles also include USA’s Political Animals and CBS’ The Crazy Ones. On the film side, he was most recently seen opposite Joel Edgerton in the George Clooney-directed MGM film, The Boys in the Boat. Wolk is repped by Gersh and Greenlight Management.

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