'Pam and Tommy': the untold story of the most infamous sex tape ever made

'Pam and Tommy' tells the story of when Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee's honeymoon sex tape was stolen and leaked
'Pam and Tommy' tells the story of when Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee's honeymoon sex tape was stolen and leaked Copyright AP
Copyright AP
By Theo FarrantAP
Share this articleComments
Share this articleClose Button
Copy/paste the article video embed link below:Copy to clipboardCopied

'Pam and Tommy' uncovers the story behind Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee's infamous sex tape, a defining moment in 90s popular culture. But what can fans expect from its fictionalisation?


After a heady wave of anticipation cleverly strung out over the past year, 2022's most audacious biopic, 'Pam and Tommy', is set to hit screens on February 2. 

Starring Lily James as supermodel Pamela Anderson and Sebastian Stan in tow as Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee, the eight-episode series will stream in Europe on Disney+.

The show depicts the turbulent marriage of the famous couple and the chaos that ensued when their sex tape was leaked to the public in the 1990s.

While it was a nightmare for the couple, it was defining moment – for better or for worse – marking a time where public figures soon realised the power of the internet.

But what can fans expect from the serialisation of one of Hollywood's most infamous tales?

The untold story of the couple's sex tape

Credit: AFP
Pamela Anderson Lee arrives at the PETA awards with her husband Tommy Lee, 18 September 1999Credit: AFP

'Pam and Tommy' recreates the whirlwind courtship of a rock musician and TV, Playboy star and their impulsive marriage.

But the big takeaway for viewers is that the sex tape was not leaked to the public by Anderson or Lee, nor was it sold by them either.

The tape was discovered in a safe that was stolen from their home by a carpenter (portrayed by Seth Rogen, an executive producer on the project) who had been fired from a construction job at their house.

When Lee refused to pay him or give him his tools, he snuck back onto the property and stole the safe, hoping there was money and valuables inside. The tape ended up exchanging various hands, sold and also posted online.

While the series is entertaining, sometimes funny, and has a good soundtrack, it's a sad reminder of how the late 90s and the burgeoning lifeforce of the internet opened up a tidal wave of opportunities to exploit people's private lives.

Anderson has said they never made any money from the tape and she has never seen it.

A look at the scandal through a #MeToo lens

Lily James portraying Pamela Anderson on the set of BaywatchAP

An impactful, if not cringe-worthy moment in the new series, 'Pam and Tommy', is when Lily James as Pamela Anderson is interviewed by Jay Leno on 'The Tonight Show' and he asks her about her sex tape with then-husband Tommy Lee. 

"What's it like to have that kind of exposure?" he asks.

"What's it like?" responds Lily James as Anderson. "It's horrible...it's devastating."

Jokes about the sex tape were regular monologue fodder for Leno at the time.

James says this fresh perspective is a point of the series, based on a Rolling Stone article written by Amanda Chicago Lewis in 2014.

"We're looking back at these stories as kind of reckonings and realizing our own culpability in the way people have been treated and how as a society we treat women, particularly, not only through the media, but in all different levels," said James.

"It's good to provoke a conversation, and it's important for us all to sort of look inward and look at ourselves and try and do better," the actress added.


Becoming Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee

The real Pamela Anderson hasn't been involved in the making of 'Pam & Tommy'AP

When Hulu (the series' US platform and producer) released photos of Stan, along with Lily James who plays Pam Anderson, in character last May – their indistinguishable resemblance to the couple immediately got attention online.

"You know, sometimes you'd feel really in it and on. And I mean, to be to be sure, when I had like the final fittings and the costume and the hair and the makeup and everything was going on, it was pretty, a crazy feeling to like suddenly feel like your whole body changes and that accent kind of – everything just sort of slid into place," James said.

Stan says it may look like it's all fun and games playing Tommy Lee but that it was also a lot of work.

At first, he was apprehensive to play Tommy as he did not have any tattoos of his own.

"I think I was more scared and and nervous. I don't have a single tattoo on my body, so the idea of being completely covered in tattoos was nerve-wracking because I felt like I don't know what that is," he said in an interview.


The actor also had to undergo a weight loss programme to play his character.

"I had to sort of eat very specifically, and I would do these long fasting periods and then I would run and hike and, you know, try and get 20 thousand steps a day," he said.

'Pam and Tommy' debuts on Disney+ in Europe on February 2.

Check out the video above for a preview of the new miniseries.

Video editor • Theo Farrant

Share this articleComments

You might also like