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Pam & Tommy's Lily James Talks 'Surreal' Experience Of Recreating Pamela Anderson's Work In Baywatch And Barb Wire

Mild spoilers below for anyone who wants to stay completely clueless about Pam & Tommy.

As high quality as everything is within the world of Hulu's new limited series Pam & Tommy, inarguably its biggest strength is the combined acting prowess of its two stars Lily James and Sebastian Stan. (Sorry, Seth Rogen’s butt-nasty mullet, you came in second.) As the titular coupling of Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee, the two actors make an absolute meal out of every scene they're in across the based-on-real-life saga. And for James, some of those scenes required performances wrapped up inside of other performances, as it went in episodes that recreated moments from Anderson's most high-profile projects in the '90s: the global smash TV drama Baywatch and the cult fave Barb Wire.

No one is going to argue that there were leagues of performatory distance between Pam & Tommy's "Pamela Anderson" and "C..J. Parker" or "Barbara Kopetski," but it still created an interesting acting situation for Lily James to put her acting skills to work in trying to show off Anderson's own talents. When CinemaBlend spoke with James (and co-star Sebastian Stan) about Hulu's already acclaimed new series, I asked her to talk about taking that multi-level approach, and as seen in the video above, she told me:

Recreating Barb Wire was amazing. We did that section with Lake Bell, who was one of the directors. She's so cool. It's got so much energy and it was just really, really wild. Very, very surreal. And Baywatch was, I mean, it was amazing. A huge amount of, obviously, pressure and responsibility, but it was just very surreal and really quite thrilling.

Without getting into spoilers on everything that happens in the show regarding Lily James blowing minds in Anderson’s iconic Baywatch swimsuit, nor how Barb Wire fully factors into the on-screen tale, it inspired my desire to see Lily James fronting a shot-for-shot Barb Wire remake, even though I know literally no one in the universe has enough spare time (or anything else) to make that a logical plan.

It’s almost strange to call Lily James’ work in Pam & Tommy a performance, since she essentially just becomes creator Robert Siegel’s version of Pamela Anderson, with the show’s version of events being adapted from journalist Amanda Chicago Lewis’ 2014 article. I'm sure Anderson's closest friends would beg to differ, given their closeness to the phenom being depicted, especially since the former Playboy Playmate opted not to be involved with the production.

 Sebastian Stan had something of a similar layered performance going with his portrayal of Tommy Lee, in that he also had to portray the rock star’s musical stylings behind a drum set. As the actor told CinemaBlend, working on that element of his performance was key to helping him guide the role. Had Stan also provided the voice for his talking dong, maybe that would have put him somewhere in the vicinity of James' efforts. But kudos to Jason Mantzoukas for nailing that role.

Check out the Pam & Tommy trailer below for a quick tattoo-covered taste of what to expect from the Hulu series.

One of Hulu’s many new releases in February 2022, the eight-episode Pam & Tommy (opens in new tab) dropped its first three installments for its premiere, and will debut new eps every Wednesday morning. While waiting to see where the crime-driven dramedy goes next, head to our 2022 TV premiere schedule to see what other big releases are on the way. 

Nick Venable
Nick Venable

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.