Craig T. Mathew and Greg Grudt/Mathew Imaging
Lake Bell is speaking out about how her own experience with a nude photo leak helped her do "justice" in the retelling of Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee's 1995 sex tape leak that serves as the focus of Hulu's new limited series Pam & Tommy.
Bell, who directed two episodes of the show starring Lily James as Anderson and Sebastian Stan as Lee, was one of the famous victims of 2014's "Celebgate" photo hack, which leaked nude photographs of Jennifer Lawrence, Kaley Cuoco and many others online.
"It was an unreal tsunami in the industry for private property being stolen by a hacking, and I was one of those people," Bell told Insider in her first public comments about being victimized in the leak.
"I remember having to talk to an FBI recovering agent for a week or so about that property being stolen and it was so humiliating," the actor-director added. "And for me, it was so personal."
It was for this reason that Bell felt ready to tackle the story at the heart of Pam & Tommy, which is widely considered to be the first such leak of private celebrity footage and images onto the internet back in 1995.
"The disorientation that Pam Anderson felt when her stuff went viral — which wasn't even the word at the time — I just have that knowledge," Bell said. "When I got hacked I went, 'F---!' It feels gross."
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In thinking about how to frame the story, it was important for Bell to make sure it didn't celebrate the exploitation of the Baywatch star (who, according to lead actress James, did not respond to her after she reached out to Anderson ahead of shooting the series in hopes of having her involved in the project).
James was also reportedly a victim in the 2014 hack that leaked pictures of Bell.
"Lily and I just connected about it and it became about how do we take this story and do it justice by not allowing for exploitation to yet again be the focal point," Bell said.
"Reading through the series, I realized this is shockingly intelligent in its way of addressing exploitation while allowing for the viewer to laugh and enjoy," she also said.
"I can only speak to my own experience of the exploitation of my own personal property, and so I just kind of connected through that," she added.
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Bell also mentioned how — as difficult as her experience in 2014 was — it doesn't compare to what Anderson must have gone through herself roughly 20 years prior, when she could not fathom how big the leak had become.
"When the  hack happened I wasn't like, 'I don't even know what you're talking about,' but with Pam, she says, 'There could be hundreds of copies out there,' and it's just like, bless. Because in reality, even back then, it was millions," she told Insider.
"The biggest takeaway for me was Pam Anderson is not a pushover," Bell continued. "She was a person who made strong choices and understood what her boundaries were and those boundaries were compromised."
"Most actors can connect with the idea that just because I posed on the cover of a magazine naked, which I have done a couple of times, it doesn't mean you can take naked photos that I took on my wedding night and put them out on the internet."
In 2018, the fourth Celebgate hacker accused of leaking private nude photos of Bell, Lawrence and other female celebrities was sentenced to eight months in prison, with a fifth charged later that year.
Last October, Bell spoke to PEOPLE about her experience being hacked, and how it made her feel "protective" of Anderson's portrayal in the new series.
"I think I felt very protective of Pam's journey in it," Bell shared, "mainly because I personally have unfortunately experienced hacking in my own life. And the Internet is an unwieldy kind of behemoth that can be often used for bad, it's the tool of the devil, but then also the tool of great ambition and technology."
"I think I felt very personal in the story, and that I wanted to make sure that [Anderson] was advocated for and protected in the way the story is told," she added at the time.
The FBI has investigated other previous leaks of nude celebrity images, including leaks involving Scarlett Johansson, Mila Kunis, Christina Aguilera and footage of television sports reporter Erin Andrews in a Tennessee hotel room. Those cases resulted in convictions.