Forbes: For many reasons, the theft and leaking of the Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee’s private sex tape was a landmark moment in popular culture. From privacy to ownership rights and ethics to sexual content online, the ripples of the splash it created continue to this day.

However, Pam and Tommy isn’t just about that tape. Based on a 2014 Rolling Stone article, the Hulu miniseries stars Lily James as Baywatch star Pamela and Sebastian Stan as Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee and goes beyond the tape, the theft and distribution, and looks at the fallout and impact of the video being made public.

I caught up with Stan to talk about the project’s uniqueness, the reality of recreating Tommy’s legendary genitalia, and his relief at the positive reaction to the first official image from the show.

Simon Thompson: Your transformation in Pam and Tommy is incredible. What was it like the first time you saw yourself as the complete Tommy Lee?

Sebastian Stan: Lily and I had to do this camera test, and that was the first time I think we finally had all the touches; I had the tattoos, she had the wig, the whole thing. That was a big and telling day for both of us. Until that point, I would look at pictures of him over and over and think, ‘How am I going to pull this off?’ The hair and makeup team that we had were geniuses. They researched so hard, and the way they planned everything was special and specific. From every single tattoo to the amount of stubble I had, it was a conscious decision on their part to try to move us in the right direction.

Thompson: You and Lily didn’t spend a lot of time together before that because of the pandemic, right?

Stan: Even afterward, I would never see her outside of Pamela. There was no time because she would get there super early, I’d get there early, we’d go to two different places, spend three hours getting ready, and then meet and film. At that point, I would meet Pamela; I wouldn’t see Lily herself. Sometime at the end of the day, I would maybe get a glimpse of her running from the makeup into the car to go home. It wasn’t until the end of the shoot that I formally met her. I was amazed at how close to Pamela she looked and how much of her essence was there.

Thompson: As an actor, is that helpful, or is it your worst nightmare not to have that personal time and connection with the other actor?

Stan: She and I had all these scenes together, and we always needed to communicate and stay in touch about everything so that we were always on the same page. It was different, but no two projects are ever the same. We just happened to have a really good group of people on this. From the guys doing sound to our camera operator to the directing, we seemingly had the best of the best. Everybody came in and worked so hard, so it was unique in that way.

Thompson: There was always going to be an element of controversy around Pam and Tommy. When you got the script, who did you talk to about it and use as a sounding board to help you decide whether or not to take it on?

Stan: Well, I had worked with the executive producer Craig Gillespie on I, Tonya, a few years ago, and it was my favorite directing experience I’ve ever had. He’s my favorite director, and he pushed me in ways with that project that I’ve never been pushed before. When he texted me and said, ‘I’m working on this thing, and I think you should play this guy.’ It was a no-brainer because it was him. Quickly after, I was like, ‘How?’ There was the realization of what that meant. I have an acting mentor, Larry Moss, who’s a really great acting teacher in New York, who I always work with, and I just said to him, ‘I’m going to need a lot of help here because there’s so much to unpack.’ Fortunately, there was also Tommy’s book. There was also the Dirt book and YouTube and so much footage going back to when he was young. I had a lot of stuff to work with. I had never played the drums before, and if I got anything right, I had to get the drums right. This guy is one of the greatest drummers of all time. He’s flipping upside down on roller coasters playing drums. It felt like a mountain I had to climb.

Thompson: I lived through this tape leaking and Pamela and Tommy’s relationship being headline news. A whole generation will watch this but not have that first-hand experience of what a big deal it was. What was your experience?

Stan: I was 12 in 1995, and that’s when I came to America because I’m from Romania originally. I also lived in Vienna for four years, so I was really behind, embarrassingly so, with music and a lot of other things. I’d heard about it, and I knew that something had happened, and everybody obviously knew Baywatch. Even as a kid in Europe, I remember Beverly Hills, 90210 and Baywatch. It was massive. That red suit was iconic. I was surprised how much I didn’t know about how it happened or the level of insanity in terms of the invasion, the fallout, and how a couple, relatively young in their marriage, handled that. That was all stuff I didn’t know about.

Thompson: The sex tape itself is just the tip of the iceberg.

Stan: Yeah, and we’re not recreating the sex tape; we’re talking about everything that happened surrounding it, how it affected them, and particularly Pamela. We also look at the level of projection and the narratives the media spun around it and that we, as an audience, bought into because it was them. You heard something, even if it wasn’t the facts. There was a whole level of culpability that I think was happening on everybody’s part.

Thompson: This era also changed the face of the adult entertainment industry because of the internet.

Stan: It was almost a warning of what’s about to come, and now we’re sitting here in 2022 looking back at this thing, we’re asking these questions, we’re talking about it again, and we’re trying to hopefully understand something by it. A lot hasn’t changed, to some extent. We continue to make the same kind of judgments and mistakes, and now, by the way, kids are exposed to it too because of social media and because these companies don’t care how it affects a developing mind. Forget that it’s a celebrity here, but if it’s a young person who’s still growing and developing and dealing with certain levels of invasion, and the blame that comes with it, or the shaming that happens online, particularly towards women. I think it’s a very timely thing to think about.

Thompson: When the first photo of you and Lily as Pamela and Tommy Lee landed online, the response was insane. Were you aware of that reaction?

Stan: I remember both Lily and I looked at each other like, ‘Well, thank God that the cat is out of the bag now.’ We’re talking about two very famous people who were very specific and iconic in a lot of ways, and just the idea of stepping into those shoes was scary enough. It was a relief to see that people had responded well, and hopefully, that was a sign that people were going to watch the show or understand more about it.

Thompson: Something I loved about this is that a lot of the episodes are directed by women. Did that help get the tone right?

Stan: You want to have the right people represent the story, and it is Pamela’s story in many ways. You need to have a woman’s perspective, and the co-showrunners that we had, Robert Siegel and D.V. DeVincent, were super collaborative. They wanted to ensure that everything, from even the conversations with Lily about scenes, was a discussion in itself. It was the same with Sue Naegle, one of our producers from Annapurna, who was a massive part of it as well. To have the discussion, ask Lily’s thoughts and other women’s thoughts, and ask, ‘Okay, what is the right decision here? What else do we need to say? What else do we need to tell?’ I think that kind of collaboration is ultimately key in getting to the truth of the story.

Thompson: Many people are going to be talking about Tommy’s legendary genitals. In the second episode of Pam and Tommy, he has a conversation with them. You know audiences are going to be talking about that. What was it like to wear that prosthetic because it must have been heavy, uncomfortable, and an involved process?

Stan: It certainly makes you think about your own status. Honestly, it was like any fight scene, believe it or not. It’s awkward in a sense, but you don’t even have time to process it. You’re there with 30 people. There’s a whole crew waiting who don’t care, and they want to go to lunch or get home to see their families. It’s just another scene. It’s actually a sweet scene in that there’s something confessional about it because of what’s happening for him. It’s these realizations that he’s in love with this woman. The guys wrote that, tipping their hats to Tommy’s book where he made his penis a character. Everybody was very conscious to ask the question, ‘Is that scene necessary? Would it work?’ Filming it, you didn’t really know if it was going to land. You see it in the episode, and you go, ‘Okay. It’s still there for a reason.’ You get it, and it’s pivotal. I’m glad that it ended up in there, but there was always a consciousness about it.

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