Remember when Lily James said she had reached out to Pamela Anderson prior to portraying her in Pam & Tommy, but never got a response? Anderson herself is finally shedding some light about that.
In a recent New York Times profile, Anderson reveals that James didn't call — the actress only sent her a handwritten letter, which she promptly ignored. According to the new interview, James "reached out after taking the role to ask if they could speak — saying in a handwritten letter, that she wanted nothing more than to honor her." But Anderson never read the letter, and a scanned copy of it still sits in her inbox somewhere, unread, even today.
While the producers and stars of Pam & Tommy had promised the Hulu limited series would serve as some kind of redemption for the misunderstood icon, to Anderson, it only felt like a re-exploitation of the toughest period of her life that she didn't want to reopen. "It was already hurtful enough the first time," Anderson says. "It's like one of those things where you're going, 'Really? People are still capitalizing off that thing?'"
Michael Loccisano/Getty; Erin Simkin/Hulu Pamela Anderson and Lily James as Anderson on 'Pam & Tommy'
Pam & Tommy stars James as Anderson and Sebastian Stan as Tommy Lee in a comedic take on how the '90s tabloid couple's sex tape was stolen from a safe in their home by their electrician and sold online, becoming the first viral video ever. James received an Emmy and Golden Globe Best Actress nomination for her portrayal of Anderson, and the show was nominated for Best TV Movie or Limited Series at both awards shows. All episodes are streaming on Hulu.
"I do wish things had been different and that she wanted to be involved," James previously told EW. As for what she would've asked Anderson? "Oh, my goodness, that's a tricky question," she said, taking a long pause. "I'd have to really think about that. I wouldn't even be able to say now." She said she understood how Pam & Tommy reopens a difficult chapter in Anderson's life, so she "can't even really speak to" whether she wants Anderson to see this show. "I just really hope we've done justice to the story and to her, even all these years later," she finally added. "And I just really hope it challenges people's perceptions on what she went through — and that we look at the misogyny and sexism that continue now."
Showrunners Robert Siegel and D.V. DeVincentis previously told EW about their attempts to reach out to Anderson as well. "We particularly wanted to let Pamela Anderson know that this portrayal was very much a positive thing and that we cared a great deal about her and wanted her to know that the show loves her," DeVincentis said. "We didn't get a response, but considering what she's been through and the time that we were reaching out, that was understandable."
Despite not getting an answer or blessing from Anderson, Pam & Tommy moved forward because producers optioned the rights to an article published by Rolling Stone in 2014 that revealed the unbelievable true story of how Anderson and Lee's sex tape was stolen and released, which cleared the air about the infamous tape 20 years later. "The show is very much on, I think if you had to name one person with whom the show's sympathies lie, it's Pam," Siegel said.
Siegel knew that a lot of people cynically assume that Anderson and Lee were the ones to leak and sell their own home video, rebranded as a sex tape. "But they weren't," he said.
"When I bring up the subject of the tape and that I was doing a show about it, I was shocked by how many people assumed that [Anderson and Lee] were in on it, which is something I'm happy that we were able to set the record straight about. We very clearly, unambiguously present them as the victims of a crime, which they were."
Hulu; Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic Sebastian Stan and Lily James in 'Pam and Tommy,' and the real Tommy Lee and Pamela Anderson in 2005
Pam & Tommy director Craig Gillespie, who came into the process after all eight scripts were written and helmed the first three episodes, previously told EW that the producers "absolutely respect the privacy" of Anderson despite making this series without her involvement. "I felt, for us, what we're trying to do is really change the narrative and your perspective of what happened. And this felt like such an opportunity to do that and to be able to look at the story through today's lens and the outrageousness and just the atrocities that happened. I felt that hopefully, it would change people's point of view on that. So everybody tried to focus on that."
On the other hand, the showrunners were never worried about how Lee would feel about not being involved in the series. "Tommy is a public figure and I think we treat him well enough," DeVincentis said. "And we've come to know that he's excited about the show." EW previously confirmed Lee spoke to Stan about the project.
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