Lily James interview: ‘Pam and Tommy’
Lily James received rave reviews for her portrayal of Pamela Anderson in the Hulu limited series “Pam and Tommy,” so when Emmy nominations were scheduled to be revealed on July 12, the actress made plans. “I organized a massage for that exact time,” she admits. “I was concerned I wouldn’t relax, but somehow I did. I had this wonderful massage and then I had a sauna. I was sort of avoiding having to acknowledge whatever might have happened. Then I got back to the locker room and I got my phone out and it had just blown up.” Watch our exclusive video interview above.
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 Anderson and Motley Crue drummer Tommy Lee (Sebastian Stan) after their honeymoon sex tape is stolen and eventually launched on the internet for millions to see. James received her first Emmy nomination for her portrayal of Anderson and competes for Best Movie/Limited Actress.
SEE Sebastian Stan (‘Pam and Tommy’) reveals trick to staying ‘at a level 10, no matter what’ while playing rock icon Tommy Lee
“I was so blindsided by the thought of me playing Pamela Anderson,” James admits. “I was shocked, like anyone that heard my name attached to it. That triggered my intrigue and my imagination. I started watching interview after interview and I couldn’t help but start feeling her mannerisms. The way she would laugh at herself or the way she would handle pressure. It just felt really intriguing to me. There was so much there to explore.”
James explains that the prosthetic application took four hours each morning so she became quite comfortable in the hair and makeup chair. “I had a prosthetic forehead, I had teeth, I had contact lenses, I had hair, I had boobs,” she reveals. “It was so freeing to look in the mirror and see someone else. All through that four hours in the morning I would watch videos of her. She speaks really fast so I would have vocal exercises. It would take four hours for me to spiritually and physically get there.”
SEE Craig Gillespie (‘Pam and Tommy’ executive producer) on ‘transformation’ of Lily James
To this day James says she often reverts back to speaking in Anderson’s voice. “I step into her voice,” she says. “I think I have lost lots of jobs because I keep speaking like Pamela in any audition. But working in that intense way and being so all-in is really the only way I want to work now. It’s so exhilarating and so rewarding.”
“It’s such a confusing, big conversation,” James responds when asked about portraying a person that is still alive and in the public eye. “I still think about it. I still hope and pray I did her justice. I eventually just had to trust in knowing my instinct and my intentions were so good. I wanted to share a story that people maybe weren’t aware of. I wanted to look at how women are treated. I wanted to examine the awful double standard and what these violations really do to people. I felt like I was constantly walking this tightrope as an empathetic human and as someone who feels insecure.”
The actress goes on to discuss her admiration for Anderson, her close working relationship with Stan and her excitement for other nominees this year including Zendaya (“Euphoria”), Amanda Seyfried (“The Dropout”), Himesh Patel (“Station Eleven”) and “Yellowjackets.”