In 1995, Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee met model and actress Pamela Anderson. 96 hours later, they got married. She wore a bikini. Her mother found out about the wedding through People magazine. On their honeymoon, they made a sex tape that was later stolen from their house and became one of the highest-selling adult movies of the ’90s. Their story is kind of the perfect celeb coupling of the ’90s, a brash new age of fame, fortune, and sex. Basically everything in the lives of Lee and Anderson feels like it was made up for an especially vodka-heavy late-night soap opera. So, it certainly made sense when it was announced that I, Tonya director Craig Gillespie would be teaming up with Annapurna and Hulu to make the miniseries Pam & Tommy. It didn’t make as much sense when we saw the casting.
Sebastian Stan seems a little too clean-cut for Tommy Lee, and Lily James as Pamela Anderson… well, it’s definitely out of her typical wheelhouse of period dramas and boring girlfriend types. This is such a brashly American story that the idea of taking the prototypical ‘English rose’ and turning her into the queen of Baywatch feels like a stretch. Still, we can do wonders with prosthetics, and they seem to have worked well for Emmy Rossum in her upcoming role as Angelyne, so let’s see what we’ve got here with the first glimpse at James in Pam-mode.
Lily James as Pamela Anderson on the set of “Pam & Tommy” in Los Angeles 📸 pic.twitter.com/6JOPxIYEaE— best of lily james (@badpostslily) May 3, 2021
Granted, we can’t see much but still, that first image… it’s not bad, actually. Anderson’s beauty and sex appeal were heavily crafted by that ’90s bleach blonde plastic look, and recreating that gives make-up artists a lot of leeway. I don’t say that to knock Canada’s most prominent animal rights activist and Julian Assange supporter (seriously, her life is very weird.) But it certainly allows James and her team up play up the ‘transformation’ aspect of the role, which actors and the media eat the f**k up. Besides, I’m over us having to pretend that an actor looking exactly like the person they’re playing is good enough for biopics. I don’t need an impersonation. I need a lived-in performance (but I am still salty about the miscasting of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz in that Sorkin movie. Sorry, Kidman and Bardem, but you both know the truth.)
I’ll be interested to see if James pulls this off. Her work and image are primarily defined by that impeccable English polish that seems tailor-made for corsetry. This is definitely not that!
Header Image Source: WIktor Szymanowicz // NurPhoto via Getty Images.