Sebastian Stan on the ‘Pam & Tommy’ phenomenon

The Marvel star, who makes the switch from playing superhero to rock icon, on bringing to life the relationship of drummer Tommy Lee and Pamela Anderson

Updated - February 09, 2022 06:49 pm IST

Published - February 09, 2022 06:43 pm IST

Lily James and Sebastian Stan in ‘Pam & Tommy’

Lily James and Sebastian Stan in ‘Pam & Tommy’

One of Hollywood’s most bankable names today, Sebastian Stan has had a great decade, after hitting the big time as Bucky Barnes/ Winter Soldier in Marvel’s blockbuster Avengers and Captain America film franchises, as well as mini-series The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.

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Now, the American-Romanian star portrays legendary Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee and his tempestuous relationship with actor Pamela Anderson in a new series. A topic of tabloid obsession and virality in the early days of the Internet, Pam & Tommy charts the astonishing tale of how a leaked sex tape was stolen from the couple’s home by a disgruntled contractor (played by Seth Rogen), and the pop-culture pandemonium it caused.

Described as a “love story, crime caper and cautionary tale rolled into one,” the show has attracted a lot of hype not only for the explosive real-life celebrities it is based on, but also the casting of Stan and James, whose first photo-shoot for the project went viral.

Talking to The Hindu , Sebastian Stan, who makes the switch from playing superhero to rock icon, talks about the cultural legacy of Tommy Lee, transforming into such a character, working with Lily James, and more...

What did it mean to play one of the most phenomenal musicians in history?

I grew up in the Nineties. I came to America in 1995 from Europe; I was 12 then, and discovered a lot of things such as theatre and acting. It was an interesting period to kind of reflect back on. That being said, I was still pretty young to kind of really understand what was truly going on with this story of Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee. But in doing the research, watching a lot of footage over and over again, reading Tommyland (Tommy’s book), and anything I could find on him and the relationship, I basically devoured it all.

What was your feeling when you first saw Lily James and yourself, as Pam and Tommy? The first look became a rage…

We had a camera test initially, and it was the first time where our brilliant hair and makeup team came together, along with the costumes, and everybody saw what we looked like. It was the first time I got to see Lily as Pamela Anderson, and I was just blown away at the resemblance.

Lily James as Pamela Anderson

Lily James as Pamela Anderson

I think we were both shocked to some extent, and also maybe relieved, that it gave us more confidence going forward into the portrayals.

What were some of the things you learnt about Tommy Lee that you didn’t know earlier?

His background, for starters. I had no idea what his childhood was like, how he got to be a drummer, and how early he was able to hit success. In the Eighties, I believe Motley Crue was one of the most recognised bands on the planet, and among the first legendary heavy metal outfits, along with the likes of Guns N’ Roses.

Tommy has a very interesting childhood. His father married his mom within four days of having met her... in a very similar fashion to how he would get married to Pamela many years later! He grew up in a household where English was not a first language; his parents would communicate with drawings, in order to understand each other better. He found the drums as a way towards expressing himself.

You have spoken earlier about what a task it was to have your body inked with all of Tommy’s tattoos before the shoot. After this experience, would you get inked personally?

No, no, I think it’s too late for me to get a tattoo now! (laughs) You know, the tattoos that I had for this were very specific. He has that Mighty Mouse tattoo on the right hand shoulder, and obviously the Mayhem tattoo is also pretty iconic in many ways.

A still from the series

A still from the series

Tommy is obviously a pretty controversial figure; was there anything to dislike about him while you were portraying the character?

I’m very hesitant as an actor to be that subjective, especially when you’re starting to work on something, and you don’t know the person and might have just heard of them.

The intention here is not to portray anything differently that isn’t widely known about Tommy. Certainly, he’s spoken about a lot of it himself in interviews. Here we’re focusing much more on his relationship with Pamela and their coming together in this whirlwind kind of passionate way, and then having to be the victims of a crime essentially, in the stealing of this tape. We’re talking about invasion of privacy, the fallout from it, and how it impacted both of them, especially her as a woman.

Pam & Tommy is currently streaming on Disney+ Hotstar with weekly episodes


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