"I was really hopeful that she would be involved. I wish it had been different," James says.
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When it came to portraying Pamela Anderson in Pam & Tommy, Lily James went straight to the source. But despite reaching out to Anderson prior to when filming began on the upcoming Hulu limited series, she says she never got a response.

"I was really hopeful that she would be involved. I wish it had been different," James said in a recent cover story for Net-a-Porter's Porter. "I was very hopeful that we would be in touch right up until we started filming ... My sole intention was to take care of the story and to play Pamela authentically."

Lily James, Pamela Anderson
Lily James stars as Pamela Anderson on 'Pam & Tommy;' Anderson on 'Baywatch'
| Credit: Erica Parise/Hulu; Kypros/Getty Images

While Anderson did indeed decline to meet with James, a source tells EW that Sebastian Stan did meet with Tommy Lee prior to filming to discuss the role. Lee's rep had no comment and reps for Stan did not immediately respond to request for comment. Anderson's reps did not immediately respond to EW's request for comment.

Pam & Tommy stars James and Stan in a comedic take on how the '90s tabloid couple's sex tape was stolen by their electrician (played by Seth Rogen) and sold online, becoming the first viral video ever. James added that it was "scary" to play the role of Anderson "without necessarily having all the information."

"I just had no idea if I could do it," she said. "I've never worked so hard. I read the books [Anderson] has written, I read her poetry, I can parrot along to all her interviews. And then, of course, there was the physical transformation. Slowly, our incredible team found a balance where I resembled Pamela but also felt like I could act through it."

The physical transformation into Anderson required four hours of makeup, a wig, chest plate, and tan. "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. There was a bravery that came from that. A courage that came from … disappearing."

Aside from portraying Anderson authentically, it was also important to James that the series provoked a conversation about the double standard the former Baywatch star faced during the scandal.

"It felt like a challenge. And kind of essential," she said. "The shaming was so extreme. Unfortunately, that's still the case, don't you think? Women are held to much higher standards and attacked in ways that feel so vicious. Pamela had such wit and grace in the way that she held herself. I admire that strength ... I want to be part of these attempts at change. I realize a lot of it's incredibly sensitive and difficult."

Pam & Tommy premieres on Feb. 2 on Hulu.

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