Lily James Reflects On How Becoming Pamela Anderson 'Screwed Up' Her Mental Health

lily james on pamela anderson role
Lily On How Being Pam 'Screwed Up' Mental HealthDavid Livingston - Getty Images

It's been a few months since Pam & Tommy, starring Lily James and Sebastian Stan, aired. There was plenty to talk about when it came to the Disney Plus series, including the epic transformations that both actors made to get into character. And it's those transformations that have had the most impact on the stars of the series, particularly James who says becoming Pamela Anderson was a 'screwed up process' that almost lead to a breakdown.

'It was such a screwed-up process,' James told The Mirror. 'You just have to be patient with yourself. The hours are so long and you feel really burnt out. Your nervous system is just like, shot to sh*t. I felt like a real wreck at the end of it.'

The 33-year-old admits there was no rest off-screen either, as she found herself so deep into Anderson's character that she couldn't separate it from herself. 'I’d go around in a blonde wig because I just felt that I needed to hold on to her a little bit,' James recalled. 'The difference from me to her was too extreme to go back and forth. So, I had to stay in this middle no man’s land of like Lily/Pamela most of the time. I would totally slip into her voice.'

The actor continued: 'Even when I went out for dinner and was ordering with the waitress or talking to my mum on the phone, I would be American.

'I think I’ve lost lots of jobs – because I keep speaking like Pamela in any audition.'

Previously, James described her transformation into Baywatch icon Anderson as 'liberating', despite getting up at 3am every day for a four hour make-up session which involved putting on a chest plate, fake tan and a wig.

'I've never done anything where I look very different from myself before. And I'd really like to continue in this vein, because I felt there was something very freeing and liberating in it,' she continued. 'There was a bravery that came from that. A courage that came from… disappearing.'

It was something the actor admits to missing when filming Pam & Tommy came to an end. 'It was like being stripped of all these superpowers!' James said. 'I'd really enjoyed the physicality and the sensuality, even down to the long fingernails. There was just so much character to hold on to — it was really thrilling.'

For information, support and advice about mental health and where to get support, visit Mind’s website at or call Mind’s Infoline on 0300 123 3393 (Monday to Friday, 9.00am to 6.00pm).

You Might Also Like