Craig Gillespie interview: ‘Pam and Tommy’ executive producer
“I was vaguely familiar, with the same misconceptions that a lot of people had,” reveals Craig Gillespie, the executive producer and director of Hulu’s limited series “Pam and Tommy.” Based on the 2014 Rolling Stone article “Pam and Tommy: The Untold Story of the World’s Most Infamous Sex Tape” by Amanda Chicago Lewis, the Hulu series follows the turbulent marriage of actress Pamela Anderson (played by Lily James) and Motley Crue drummer Tommy Lee (played by Sebastian Stan) after their honeymoon sex tape is stolen and eventually launched on the internet for millions to see. Watch the exclusive video interview with Gillespie above.
“I assumed somehow that maybe they were complicit with it,” Gillespie reveals about the famous couple and the tape’s release. “It was so enlightening to read the scripts… and to see just how heinous this was and what victims they were. Also, just how society dealt with it and how we consumed it. Looking at it through today’s lens, with the way our culture was, with late night television and the media and the judgments that were made, it’s kind of shocking.”
SEE Ethan Tobman (‘Pam and Tommy’ production designer): ‘I can’t believe I got to build a bed that was 24 feet wide and 16 feet deep’
Gillespie directs the first three episodes of the eight-part series. “Rob Siegel wrote the first episode, and there’s a tone to it that I immediately related to,” he explains. “Obviously there’s humor involved, but there’s real emotional stakes. And very interestingly, he decided to start with Rand’s (Seth Rogen) perspective. Not to free him of any guilt, necessarily, but just to understand the dynamics of what was going on. Everybody’s human and makes mistakes. I thought it was interesting to form fully-fledged characters. We get very little of the personas of Tommy and Pam in the first episode. What I love about the second episode is that it was a complete departure and it was all about Pam and Tommy.”
One of the most talked about scenes from the series comes from Episode 2 where Tommy has conversations with his own penis. The director explains that having Stan in the role made him want to lean into that dialogue that Lee himself revealed in his autobiography, “Tommy Land.” “It’s an absurd situation, but he commands such gravity with it,” Gillespie says of the actor. “He’s so emotionally vulnerable that it makes it a very complex scene. Even though there’s a lot of humor involved in it, there is this undercurrent of honesty and earnestness to his performance that makes it watchable. That’s what excited me about it, was working with Sebastian.”
“Lily was such a transformation from this English actress that I’m familiar with,” he says. “They were both so well prepared with their work that we had this amazing luxury that they can then improvise. They can throw stuff out and stay in character and go with that. It loosens up the whole scene. They were so great at doing that together.”