For the film Pam & Tommy, it took a community effort to transform Lily James into Pamela Anderson.
The former cast member of Downton Abbey will be the first to admit that she is not the obvious choice to play the Baywatch star in a retelling of the unbelievable true story of how Anderson and her then-husband Tommy Lee’s private sex tape was stolen from a safe in their own home and sold and distributed online, becoming the first-ever viral video.
The film is a retelling of the unbelievable true story of how Anderson and Tommy Lee’s private sex tape was stolen from their safe in their The English actor, who is 32 years old and naturally a brunette, told Entertainment Weekly that she was “shocked” when she was even approached to star in Hulu’s limited series as the blond bombshell. This is not only due to the fact that she is a natural brunette.
The physical transformation, which included a daily four-hour process of hair, makeup, prosthetics, and wardrobe, but thanks to a highly skilled team on set, ended up being the key that unlocked her emotional performance as Anderson in the comedic take on the very real, dark drama that was set in the 1990s.
James says, “I have to give all the credit to David Williams on the makeup side, and Barry Lee Moe from hair, and the prosthetic team, and my day-to-day makeup artist Abby [Lyle] and Mo [Meinhart], who are the greatest people ever and just so dedicated, so full of love, and attention to detail.”
“I have to give all the credit to David Williams on the makeup side, and Barry Lee Moe from hair, and the prosthetic team, and my day-to- “And Kami [Lennox], who is in charge of our wardrobe, is absolutely stellar.”
But James had already begun her transformation into the character well before she arrived on set to get ready for the first episode and put on her makeup, hair, and clothes for the role. She walks EW through the arduous and challenging transformation that was necessary for her to take on the role of Anderson, which began many months before the actual production began.
James began working with a physical trainer six months prior to the start of filming because he knew that a fake tan and prosthetics could only change his body to a certain extent. James says that he worked with an incredible trainer named Matt Bevan, who also worked with Daisy Ridley.
“I worked with him,” James says. “Because of his intense training, I am in much better shape now. I was able to shed a lot of pounds.” With a chuckle, she continues, “Unfortunately, I have reapplied all of it once again.
On the other hand, I experienced a level of physical prowess that I hadn’t felt in a very long time, and the surge of self-assurance that followed was enormous. Beachgoing no longer makes me feel as self-conscious as it used to.”
She was able to portray Anderson’s inner strength despite the chaos that was going on in her life at that point in time because she had discovered her own power after gaining that newfound confidence in her body, which helped her discover it. She says that the sensation was “really wonderful,” and that it allowed her to feel “so in my own body.” “Despite the fact that it was extremely challenging, it was worthwhile.”
James made it a point to continue her workout routine throughout the entirety of the filming process, despite the long hours she spent on set. She says with a chuckle, “He would make me do all my work and read my script on a running machine.” “He would make me do all my work and read my script on a running machine.” “And I did boxing with a really cool guy in LA, which is another one of my favorite things to do because it makes me feel physically strong like I could literally beat someone up.”
Each 18-hour day of production began before the sun had even risen for James in the makeup trailer. At 3:30 a.m., “I was in the makeup chair,” she adds, adding that she’d always listen to a playlist of ’90s music during the four-hour process of getting into the Pamela look. A “full process” had to be completed for the eyes, wig, and teeth.
Before applying her prosthetics, she would put on her wig hat. James reveals that despite how drastically different she looks from Anderson, there wasn’t a lot of prosthetic work required.
There were other prosthetics to choose from, but “in the end, we pared it back as much as possible,” she explains, adding that she only needed two pieces of prosthetic material. “A barrier between me and my expressions wasn’t anything we wanted to create. They performed an excellent job, in my opinion. When I saw what they were able to accomplish, I was awestruck.”
However, a single prosthetic piece was responsible for the bulk of the work. James gushes, “The breast piece was fantastic.” “There is no way for you to tell it wasn’t me. Astonishing was an understatement.”
Although Anderson’s breasts were a big part of her image, they weren’t always utilized in filming. Because it was so time-consuming to put on, she didn’t wear it as often as she wanted to. For the most part, we used my own breasts to trick the eye into thinking they were larger than they really were.
When she did use the chest prosthetic, there was one major drawback. James laughs as he recalls how hot it was and how his boobs were dripping sweat. This is rather hot for an English person like me, you know!
James would get a dark spray tan once a week to give her skin the appearance of a TV star who spent most of her time filming on a Los Angeles beach. And every day she would add more tan makeup to her body to balance out the color and ensure that she was the appropriate shade.
James says, “I really couldn’t believe how pale I was before. “How am I this translucent, I wondered? I am very unwell. because despite my best efforts, I cannot tan. I occasionally become little brown and freckled. I thus got along great with my spray tanner. For the project, we were up close and personal a lot.”
Her voice was just as essential to James as her physical appearance, even though it wasn’t a part of her physical appearance. “I used to watch a lot of Pamela’s old interviews,” she recalls. In addition, Liz Himelstein, my dialect coach, helped me with a variety of tongue-twisting exercises and worked on my voice.
James eventually had to turn to less than ethical means of honing her vocal abilities. Screaming into pillows made her and Sebastian [Stan, who plays Lee] sound huskier, she explains with a smile. However, “it wasn’t the healthiest method, but that worked.”
James was completely taken aback when she first caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror after having her hair, makeup, and clothes done. She says, “I loved it; it was so crazy.” “It was so wild.” She ended up going nearly completely method on set, and she remained in character throughout the entirety of filming; she even talked in Anderson’s voice when she got home each night.
James reveals, “I used to WhatsApp [phone] my friends back home and speak to them about our normal life but do it in my [Pamela] voice, and they were like, holy s—-!” when he did this. “And then I sort of started forgetting what I sounded like because I stayed in the accent the entire time I was here. Only very so often after drinking a glass of wine would I start to be British again. I’d be like, ‘Oh, that’s me. Hello.'” “And then I sort of started forgetting what I sounded like because I stayed in the accent the entire time I was here.”
She went so far as to adapt Anderson’s blonde hair color to her everyday life as well. “I went out in public while wearing a blonde wig that I had purchased for myself,” she explains. “I was planning to stop by CVS when I was wearing my blonde wig.”
Even though filming has concluded, James still finds that she has taken on some of Anderson’s attributes, such as maintaining her strength and regularly engaging in physical activity. This includes some of the finer points. She replies with a chuckle, “I still wear my long nails,” while displaying her bedazzled manicure. “I still wear my long nails,” They did not leave.
The first episode of Pam & Tommy will air on Hulu on February 2.