Lily James is opening up about transforming into Pamela Anderson for the upcoming Hulu mini-series Pam & Tommy.
While the audience has had a glimpse into Pam & Tommy’s life in the first teaser released in November last year, “I’ve never worked so hard,” says James in a cover story for Net-a-Porter’s Porter. “I read the books [Anderson] has written, I read her poetry, I can parrot along to all her interviews.”
For the eight-episode limited series, which is slated to hit the streaming service on Feb. 2, James’ calls her physical transformation into Anderson as both “freeing and liberating.
“Slowly, our incredible team found a balance where I resembled Pamela but also felt like I could act through it,” the Cinderella actress shared, noting that she would be in makeup for about four hours starting at 3 a.m., putting on a chest plate, wig, and tan. “I’ve never done anything where I look very different from myself before. And I’d really like to continue in this vein, because I felt there was something very freeing and liberating in it,” she continued. “There was a bravery that came from that. A courage that came from… disappearing.”
She even joked that she “hated” returning to her normal, everyday self after shooting.
“It was like being stripped of all these superpowers!” she shared with the publication. “I’d really enjoyed the physicality and the sensuality, even down to the long fingernails. There was just so much character to hold on to — it was really thrilling.”
Aside from portraying Pamela Anderson authentically, it was also important to James that the series provoked a conversation about the double standard the former Baywatch star faced during the scandal.
“It felt like a challenge. And kind of essential,” she said. “The shaming was so extreme. Unfortunately, that’s still the case, don’t you think? Women are held to much higher standards and attacked in ways that feel so vicious. Pamela had such wit and grace in the way that she held herself. I admire that strength … I want to be part of these attempts at change. I realize a lot of it’s incredibly sensitive and difficult.”
However, Lily James’ one wish which could not be fulfilled was that she never got a response from Pamela Anderson despite reaching out to her prior to when the filming began.
“I was really hopeful that she would be involved. I wish it had been different,” James said. “I was very hopeful that we would be in touch right up until we started filming … My sole intention was to take care of the story and to play Pamela authentically.”
Pam & Tommy stars James and Stan in a comedic take on how the ’90s tabloid couple’s s– tape was stolen by their electrician (played by Seth Rogen) and sold online, becoming the first viral video ever. James added that it was “scary” to play the role of Anderson “without necessarily having all the information.”