Lily James starred in one of 2022’s best true crime series, portraying Pamela Anderson in Hulu’s Pam & Tommy. Despite its success, however, the show was controversial, in large part because its subjects — the Baywatch star and Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee — refused to be involved in the retelling of the crime committed against them in 1996. It wasn’t for lack of trying, as James and showrunner D.V. DeVincentis said they reached out to Anderson and never heard back — a fact that the Playboy model confirmed, as she explained why she never even read the letter James sent.
Pam & Tommy, which can be streamed with a Hulu subscription, is the story of Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee’s infamous sex tape. According to those involved, the series sought to show how the couple’s lives were affected by the theft of their tape — and to clarify that they had nothing to do with the leak. Regardless of intention, Anderson said it just felt like more exploitation, and she told the New York Times why she never opened the handwritten letter that Lily James sent:
She did tell the Times a scanned copy of the letter is still in her inbox, unread.
If anyone should be able to understand where Pamela Anderson is coming from, you’d think it would be Lily James and those who made Pam & Tommy. The series showed how the Barb Wire actress was repeatedly victimized by the theft of the private tape, warning over and over about the negative effects that would befall her, while Tommy Lee was rendered a hero. This, apparently, felt like yet again people were capitalizing on her trauma.
It wasn’t just Pamela Anderson who had things to say about the Hulu show. Courtney Love refused to allow her image to be shown in the series, calling it a “piece of shit” and saying the scandal destroyed her friend’s life. Former Mötley Crüe member John Corabi took issue for a different reason, as he said the way Tommy Lee and the band were portrayed was “criminal.”
Lily James has shared her thoughts on her subject’s refusal to watch or be involved in any way with the show. She said it’s Pamela Anderson’s choice, and if she ever did watch it, James hopes she would feel how much the series was on her side.
Pam & Tommy has gained critical acclaim since its release in early 2022. It’s been nominated for multiple awards, winning a Primetime Emmy for character makeup for the transformations of Lily James and Sebastian Stan into the ‘90s icons. It was up for a 2023 Golden Globe for Best Limited Series, with James, Stan and Seth Rogan — who attended the ceremony in a powder pink suit — all receiving acting nods. There could be more accolades to come, as well, with several more nominations in the 2023 awards season.
Pamela Anderson, meanwhile, is taking her story back. Pamela: A Love Story is set to be released on Netflix on Tuesday, January 31, in which she’ll tell her story in her own words with the use of her personal videos and diaries. You’ll be able to catch that with a Netflix subscription, and here are some other movies and shows to watch if you like Pamela Anderson.