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“Happy Face”: Khiyla Aynne and Benjamin Mackey Round Out Series Regular Cast as Production Begins; David Harewood will do it again

EXCLUSIVE: Happy face completed the regular cast of the series by adding Khiyla Aynne (circuit breakers) And Ben Mackey (The morning show) alongside Annaleigh Ashford, Dennis Quaid, James Wolk and Tamera Tomakili. David Harwood (Country) is also joining the upcoming Paramount+ drama series in a recurring role. The series comes from creator and executive producer Jennifer Cacicio and executive producers Robert and Michelle King. Filming began this week in Vancouver. See Ashford’s Instagram announcement below.

Happy face is inspired by the true story of Melissa Moore; THE Happy face podcast from iHeartPodcasts and Moore; and the autobiography Broken silence, written by Moore with M. Bridget Cook.

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

Aynne plays the 15-year-old daughter of Hazel, Ben (Wolk) and Melissa (Ashford), a secure and happy girl who thinks her mother is going on a simple business trip. However, when she suspects something bad is going on, she begins to investigate and may begin to uncover the shocking circumstances of her mother’s past.

Mackey plays 9-year-old Max, the youngest child of Ben (Wolk) and Melissa (Ashford), a lively child who takes his stable upbringing for granted and isn’t too concerned with his mother’s sudden absence. He believes she is producing a segment for The Dr. Greg Show.

Harewood returns as Dr. Greg, the handsome and beloved longtime star of a popular daytime health and talk show, The Dr. Greg Show. When he calls Melissa, one of the show’s makeup artists, for an appointment, she doesn’t know what he might want. She soon realizes that he received a phone call from a shocking source – and that call has shed light on the secret of his past.

The eight-episode first season of Happy faceproduced by CBS Studios in association with King Size Productions, iHeartPodcasts and Semi-Formal Productions, will premiere exclusively on Paramount+ worldwide in 2025.

Jennifer Cacicio – who also serves as showrunner – 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.

Happy face is distributed by Paramount Global Content Distribution.

Aynne recently starred in Circuit Breakers, an Emmy-nominated sci-fi anthology on Apple TV+. His previous credits include the Netflix feature film adaptation of 13: the Musical, Uptv’s Christmas on the Rocks and the children’s fantasy/horror film Nightbooks at Netflix. She led the Netflix original series Ponysitters Club as Trish and reprized the role in two spin-off films. Additional credits include appearances on Netflix’s Work It, CBC Gem’s The Move and 48 Christmas Wishes. She is repped by da Costa Talent, Alchemy Entertainment and Jackoway Austen Tyerman.

Mackey reappeared in Apple TV+ The morning show, alongside Steve Carell and his real brother Judah Mackey. He also appeared in the Starz film Gaslit with Julia Roberts and Sean Penn, ABC Domestical economy and recurring on Nickelodeon Dangerous force. As a voice actor, Mackey is recurring on Disney’s Spidey and his amazing friends and Apple TV+ Pretzel and the puppies, among others. He is repped by Artist Collective Entertainment and The Osbrink Agency.

Harewood is perhaps best known for his starring role as David Estes in the Showtime series. Country alongside Claire Danes and Damian Lewis. He has also appeared in other American and British series, including the Emmy-nominated miniseries. The night manager. His film work includes Warner Bros. political thriller Blood Diamond, Tulip Fever and Jake Mahaffy’s drama Free In Deed. He is repped by IAG, Conway van Gelder Grant, Authentic Talent & Literary Management.

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