Annaleigh Ashford to star as Melissa Moore in Paramount+ series Happy Face

What would you do if you found out that your father was a prolific serial killer who had been sentenced to life in prison? That's exactly what happened to Melissa Moore, and she coped with the trauma by speaking out about it in a podcast called Happy Face. Now the podcast (and Melissa's book) are being turned into a series on Paramount+.
"The Prison Confessions Of Gypsy Rose Blanchard" Red Carpet Event
"The Prison Confessions Of Gypsy Rose Blanchard" Red Carpet Event / Jamie McCarthy/GettyImages

In the early 1990s, there was a serial killer on the loose in the US. Well – to be fair, there was obviously more than one, but this particular killer was christened The Happy Face Killer.

Most of Happy Face’s victims were found in California and Oregan, but one was in Florida, so it should come as no surprise that the killer turned out to be a truck driver. The Happy Face Killer was a man named Keith Hunter Jesperson, and when he was finally caught, he claimed to have murdered 160 women.

Despite his lofty claims, only eight bodies were found and confirmed to have been his victims, but his arrest and conviction caused lifelong trauma for his three children. That’s where Melissa Moore comes in; she is his oldest daughter, and her mother told her about Jesperson when she was 15 years old.

As she reached adulthood, Melissa began to fear that she may have inherited her father’s psychopathy, and as a coping mechanism she decided to tell her story. In 2009, she wrote Shattered Silence: The Untold Story of a Serial Killer’s Daughter, and began hosting the Happy Face podcast. It’s a fascinating podcast, that not only recounts the murders, but also takes a deep dive into Melissa’s search for peace.

She checks in with experts to determine if she shows any signs of psychopathy, talks to the detectives who investigated the murders, and even speaks with a family member of one of Jesperson’s victims.

Happy Face
Annaleigh Ashford headshot. Happy Face, streaming on Paramount+ 2024. Photo Credit: Andrew Brucker /

Paramount+ had already announced that they were developing an original drama series based on Melissa Moore’s story, and on January 8 they made another announcement. The eight-episode series will star Annaleigh Ashford, who is a Tony award winning actress, in the central role of Melissa Moore.

Ashford most recently appeared on Broadway opposite Josh Groban in the revival of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. She has also completed filming Dust, a horror-thriller film starring Sarah Paulson.

Happy Face will begin production later this year, and is expected to premiere sometime in 2025, exclusively on Paramount+.