In conversation with his former costar Margot Robbie, Sebastian Stan shines a light on how he gets into character both physically and mentally, from roles like rock legend Tommy Lee to a charming psychopath in Fresh.

L’Officiel: Sebastian Stan has lived many lives. From his breakout role as disgraced prep-school bad-boy Carter Baizen on Gossip Girl to Marvel’s Bucky Barnes, Stan has largely managed to fly under the radar. That is, until now. Starring as Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee in the hit Hulu series Pam and Tommy has planted Stan squarely in the spotlight. The miniseries, which also stars Lily James as Pamela Anderson, follows the untold story of the infamous sex tape seen ‘round the world, which was stolen and leaked during the wild early days of the Internet.

His latest role sees Stan explore the horrors of modern dating in Hulu release Fresh, where he stars alongside Daisy Edgar-Jones as Steve, a seemingly nice guy who is not at all what he seems. “The movie explores the idea of this hero complex, which fucks up all our relationships with each other; the idea that there’s a knight in shining armor that’s gonna come and save the day,” Stan says. “I’ve certainly fallen into the trap of wanting to be that strong guy who isn’t going to be vulnerable.”

Exclusively for L’OFFICIEL, Stan speaks with friend and former costar Margot Robbie about transforming himself for a role, on-set chemistry, and his favorite rom-coms.

MARGOT ROBBIE: I’m gonna start way back at the beginning, when you were conceived—no, I’m joking, not that far. We physically met during the chemistry read for I, Tonya, but I had seen your tape before. I don’t know if I’ve told you this, but I didn’t recognize you at all. I think you were wearing a turtleneck and you may have even grown the ‘stache. I remember being like, “Wow, this actor is so good, who is this guy? He’s going to be such a find.” And then I looked you up and I was like, “Holy shit, it’s the hot guy from Gossip Girl and those Marvel movies!” Since then, I feel like you just keep transforming. I wanted to ask you about the more physical transformation, particularly when it comes to Pam and Tommy and Fresh. Is that something you find helpful?

SEBASTIAN STAN: I feel like the physical stuff always helps us, right? Because I’m such a self-conscious person with regard to my “Sebastianisms.” Having to morph into something that’s not really you is scary, but it stops me from judging myself.

MR: Do you wanna know a Sebastianism that I’ve noticed? You cover half your face with your hand when you laugh. I love it.

SS: [Laughs.] Yeah, I do do that. That’s also my favorite emoji, by the way.

MR: But I totally get what you’re saying. I feel like the less I look like myself and the less I sound like myself, the more separate I am from the character. That being said, what drives you to make the choices that you make? Even if I hadn’t worked with you, and I didn’t know you, I know I would be a fan of yours because of the risky characters you play and the projects you sign onto with so many first or second-time directors.

SS: This line of work takes a lot out of you, so I think it’s about finding something that you can really sink your teeth into so that you can justify the sacrifices you make. It’s funny, but a lot of the answers to these questions go back to I, Tonya. That experience honestly raised the bar for me. Between you and [the director] Craig Gillespie and the great script and amazing team—it was the first experience I had where I witnessed filmmaking as a machine. Working with you was a lightning bolt moment for me, because I realized I was at my best opposite strong women. I’ve gotten to work with Jessica Chastain and Julianne Moore and Lily James, and I feel like that’s my lane.

MR: It sounds like just a nice thing to say, but I’m only as good as the actors that I work with. When we did the I, Tonya chemistry reads, I tried not to get my hopes up about anyone in particular, but with you, one minute in and I was like, This is it! Did you get to do chemistry reads for Pam and Tommy or for Fresh? Or did you just get lucky and happen to have great chemistry with both costars?

SS: I didn’t. The script in Fresh had these ridiculous dance sequences, so I sent [the director] Mimi Cave this video of me in the kitchen—I took this huge steak knife and just started dancing to ‘80s music. So she saw that, and I guess that did it. Daisy Edgar-Jones had signed on to the project, and I knew, having seen her work, that she would be somebody that would anchor this thing and lead it in the right direction. I had never met Lily James before Pam and Tommy, not until Craig had Lily and me over to his house and he was like, “What’s up guys? Should we rehearse?”

“Having to morph into something that’s not really you is scary, but it stops me from judging myself.”

MR: Fresh is so good. I’m actually a little bit glad that we’re doing this over Zoom because I’d be genuinely terrified to be in a room with you right now. I completely lost my head watching it, to be honest; it’s so brilliant and so fucked up.

SS: We were really lucky because everyone was very open to what Daisy and I wanted to do; we didn’t want to fall into anything gimmicky. It starts out like a romantic comedy, and you’re supposed to see that there’s a potential between the main characters, but the truth is this guy is sort of obsessed with her. That scene to me, where Daisy’s character wakes up strapped to his bed and is realizing what’s going on, everything shifts. You see her go from, Wait a minute, is this really happening? To, Oh, my God, it is happening. She grounds the movie from then on. We’ve been raised with this narrative that you’re going to meet someone who will instantly open up and understand you, and then you’ll be together for the rest of your lives. The movie’s a little bit of a commentary on that—how you fall for somebody because you’re starved for real connection, but is that person really who they say they are? Maybe we need to step back for a second and go, okay, I feel an intense thing here but let me just suss it out before—

MR: Before he chops me up and sells my knees? You don’t know how often I have that thought. Joking aside, it does play on those thoughts in such a clever way. Like yeah, I totally do that. I do put my keys between my fingers when walking to my car. Switching gears to Pam and Tommy, the physical transformation was insane. How did you guys get that so right?

SS: We had this amazing hair and makeup team. Lily was in the makeup trailer for like three and a half hours every morning, and then I had to get the tattoos touched up every three days. There was also a losing weight thing for me—

MR: I was gonna ask you how hungry you were on this job.

SS: So hungry. I had to fast—it was a huge thing. Before we started filming I went to Canada to do Fresh, and on weekends I would get up at five in the morning, run five miles, and then start drumming. Once I got back to LA and started full-on on Pam and Tommy, I felt like I had to get the tattoos very quickly because all I was seeing was me. At one point Lily and I were both sort of panicking—you know how it is, right? You’re watching YouTube clips, you’re listening to the same interview over and over. We didn’t want this to become some kind of impression. I remember sending Lily an interview that you had done for I, Tonya that unlocked it for me—that it’s freeing to accept that you’re not this person. Instead they filter through you, and that’s what the performance is.

MR: Right. You have to find the essence of that person and embody their spirit in the best way you can. With Tonya Harding, it was the little physical things that translated into her essence. When doing the accent, her jaw was always clamped. And then I’d think, Why is someone’s jaw clamped down like that? Are they angry? Are they repressing something? If I’ve got skates on, my feet are heavy. Are my feet always heavy? Do I feel like life is dragging me down? And then, suddenly, you’ll be doing a fitting and somebody will be like, “What if you wear that?” And you’re like, “Nope, she wouldn’t wear that.” And I’ll finally think, I know her now. I got her. Was there a moment with Tommy Lee where everything clicked for you and you understood him?

SS: Yeah. It’s one of the things that we don’t explore in the show, but I discovered while reading his book that his parents didn’t really communicate with each other. His mom was from Greece and his father had a military background. They met in Greece and were married after four days—basically the same way Tommy ended up marrying Pamela—and then he brought her to America. During Tommy’s formative years his parents would communicate through pictures because his mom didn’t know how to speak English. When he got in trouble as a kid they would send him up to his room and not tell him what happened. I think, because of that, he didn’t like silence. So he found a way to channel this energy through banging on things—pots and lids—and then that’s how he got into the drumming. Once I understood that need for connection and being heard, I felt like I kind of understood where his energy comes from. If he walked into a room, you would know he was walking into a room.

“I’m at my best opposite strong women…I feel like that’s my lane.”

MR: Is there a genre you haven’t done that you would like to?

SS: I really need to do a comedy. [Laughs.]

MR: Do you wanna do a rom-com? I was just saying this to a director the other night—I want to do a straight-up ‘90s rom-com.

SS: They’re the best! Notting Hill? When Harry Met Sally? That stuff just doesn’t get old to me.

MR: Last question—what movie have you watched more than any other movie in your life?

SS: I think Boogie Nights. I can watch it anytime, no matter what.

MR: Boogie Nights is the cool answer. You have to give the embarrassing answer now.

SS: The embarrassing answer! Honestly, it might be Notting Hill. I’ve seen that movie so many freaking times. If it’s available on a plane ride, it’s just gonna have to happen. That one’s pretty up there.




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