How Lily James and Sebastian Stan Transformed Into Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee
Ironically, a Canadian actress named Pamela Anderson was one of the biggest influences on American beauty trends in the '90s. The Baywatch star's signature bouncy beach blonde hair, pencil-thin eyebrows, dark smoky eye, lined nude lip, and voluptuous curves came to define the decade and influence trends for years that followed.
Along with her beauty looks, Anderson's personal life also made headlines throughout the decade, specifically for her tumultuous marriage with Motley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee — and the stolen sex tape that came out of it.
Hulus' miniseries Pam & Tommy explores the stolen sex tape scandal between Anderson and her then-husband Lee in 1995. The release of the footage changed the internet forever and consequently raised questions about privacy and ethics in a digital world.
The series stars Lily James as Anderson and Sebastian Stan as Lee, and both are virtually unrecognizable thanks to eerily accurate hair and makeup.
Both actors spent hours in their trailers before shooting every day to transform into their respective characters — a process that included wigs, fake tattoos, eyebrow hair pieces, prosthetic breasts, and...a prosthetic penis.
Ahead, the hair, makeup, and special effects team break down what it took to turn James and Stan into one of the most famous couples of the 1990s.
Lily James as Pamela Anderson
James's transformation into Anderson started with a Google image search. Barry Lee Moe, hair department lead, David Williams, makeup department, and Jason Collins, special effects designer, used side-by-side photos as references to determine how to restructure the shape of James's face in order to look more like Anderson.
A prosthetic forehead piece was the key to turning James into Anderson's doppelgänger. "When studying pictures of Pam from different directions I was able to surmise that we needed to do something in order to give us something that would bring her hairline back about half an inch because Pam had much more real estate from where her brows arched to where her hairline began," Collins explains. Her nose was also highlighted and contoured to alter the tip of her nose.
Not only did the piece lift the hairline and reshape her forehead to match Anderson, it also made it easier to lay the very fine, delicate lace eyebrow wigs made by Sasha Camacho Van Dyke. "We had a number of pieces on hand at all times to make sure that those brows were perfect every day," says Williams. "And in order to get the placement right, the makeup team would literally draw on the brows for placement and then those lace pieces were glued on top."
As for makeup, Williams relied on a mix of products popular in the '90s and current favorites to recreate Anderson's nude lip and dark smoky eye. "Even when she wore that dark smoky eye look, she always had fresh, natural skin," he says. Make Up For Ever Professional Cream Foundation Palette and Waterproof Concealer, Chanel Ultra Le Tient, and Lancôme Tient Idole were the complexion products of choice on set. Collins adds that James wore upper and lower fake teeth to give her Anderson's same Hollywood smile and slightly push out her lips so they looked extra full.
There were a plethora of neutral products in his kit, including MAC's Lip Liner in Spice, Bobbi Brown's Lip Color in Rose and Beige, Charlotte Tilbury's Pillow Talk Lipsticks and Liners, and various shades of Hèrmes' Rouge De Hèrmes Lipsticks.
The smoky eye was created with a number of palettes including Chanel's Le 4 Ombres in Mystic Eyes and Smoky Eyes, Urban Decay's Naked Palette, a Make Up For Ever neutral palette and the discontinued Tom Ford Cocoa Mirage palette. Her eyes were lined with Make Up For Ever's Aqua Pencil and a discontinued Lancôme pencil Williams bought in bulk pre shoot.
James's blonde piecey bangs and bombshell waves is actually a very realistic wig. Moe, says that while the actress initially wanted to dye her hair blonde, a wig wardrobe was a more practical move because it eliminated touching up her roots throughout filming.
In total, James wore four wigs created by Rob Pickens of Wigmaker Associates in Los Angeles. The hair on all of them matched Anderson's natural texture and were dyed a mix of three to four shades of blonde to get the Barb Wire star's platinum just right. "They all had custom nape hair lines, so that if we pulled it up, we really had that realistic look," Moe shares. "There were times when I would add 10 to 15 extensions into the wig as well to really add that volume we needed to create these looks because one head of hair just wasn't enough."
Moe used velcro rollers and Unite hair products for Anderson's iconic hairstyle. After prepping the wig with the Blow & Set Lotion, applying the rollers, and setting the hair under the dryer, the stylist took out the rollers and backcombed the roots for extra volume. Then, Moe smoothed out the top and broke up the curls for bounce and definition. The bangs were pieced out and set with the Go 365 Hairspray, and the entire style was finished off with the Session Max Spray and the 7Seconds Glossing Spray for extra hold and shine.
That aside, it goes without saying that Anderson's breast implants were just as influential as her hair and makeup looks of the '90s. She singlehandedly caused a plastic surgery boom after joining Baywatch. It took a number of tries to James's custom silicone breast plate to fit her so it looked natural in scenes where she wore low cut mini dresses and bikinis. And finally, she was given faux barbwire tattoo on her bicep and birthmarks on the back of her arm.
Sebastian Stan as Tommy Lee
"Initially, I thought about using a wig for Sebastian as well in order to avoid having him in the chair constantly coloring his hair and touching it up," Moe shares. "But Sebastian really wanted to live and breathe the character and he wanted to take it home with him."
To get Lee's rock-and-roll look, Moe and assistant hair department head Erica Adams colored Stan's hair every two weeks using a mix of two shades of Redken's Shades EQ Hair Gloss. He also had a Brazilian smoothing treatment at Harper's Salon in LA before filming. On set, Adams used Dyson's Supersonic Hair Dryer to lift the roots of the hair to fake the effect of Stan constantly running his fingers through it all day, and Sultra's IR2 Infrared Flat Iron to smooth any regrowth from the Brazilian treatment. Finally, to create that effortless, grungy texture, Adams applied Carol's Daughter's Mimosa Honey Pomade at the roots and ran Reuzel Grease medium Hold Pomade through the mid-lengths to ends.
"We wanted to keep him a little rougher, so he didn't wear a lot of makeup, maybe a little Tom Ford bronzer on the skin," says Williams. "And some eyeliner underneath the eye to darken that area a little bit.
VIDEO: Lily James Is the Spitting Image of Pamela Anderson in First Pam & Tommy Teaser
Prosthetics played a major part in Stan's look, too. Collins created nipple covers with piercings for the actor, which sounds simple, but took three tries in order to not look like "flying saucers" and they had to be applied daily. A fake penis was also involved.
Recreating Lee's tattoos was the final missing puzzle piece. "We studied photos of the tattoos and designed our own takes on them in Photoshop, then sent them to legal for approval," Collins says. "We couldn't do carbon copies without releases from the tattoo artists." The tattoo sheets were created using scans of Stan's body so they fit correctly. In total, there were 35 tattoos that took three hours to apply.
Pam & Tommy is now streaming on Hulu.