The Beauty Secrets Behind the Transformations You See on "Pam & Tommy"
Four hours in the hair and makeup chair — that's how long it took Lily James to transform into Pamela Anderson. And Sebastian Stan to become Tommy Lee? Three hours. That's how you know the beauty looks in Hulu's miniseries "Pam & Tommy" are going to be good.
As far as beauty transformations go, the ones James and Stan underwent to get into character for the show were extreme. Twenty-five wigs, 150 prosthetics (on just James alone), and countless fake tattoos were applied to tell the story of Anderson and Lee's whirlwind relationship in the '90s. These extensive beauty treatments allowed the actors to completely melt into the people they were playing — something that was very important to everyone involved.
If there's one word to describe Anderson and Lee, it's iconic. So the pressure was on to do them justice in the miniseries. Luckily, the hair, makeup, and prosthetics teams were up to the challenge. Ahead, they break down exactly how they replicated the pair's signature images, right down to his nipple piercings and her pouty smile.
The Prosthetics Used to Transform Lily James Into Pamela Anderson
The reason it's hard to tell James apart from Anderson is because of skillfully placed prosthetics. "When we first met Lily, we realized that she has these beautiful eyebrows, and they're really, really thick and luscious and amazing," prosthetic and special effects makeup designer Jason Collins tells POPSUGAR. He didn't want to tweeze them, out of fear of damaging them, so they decided on a full forehead prosthetic. This piece also granted them more forehead space to work with, which is another aspect of Anderson's look.
Hand-sewn eyebrows were then placed on top of the prosthetic. "Once we did that, we really realized that that gave us a lot of the likeness that we needed," Collins says. But they didn't stop there. James also wore full upper and lower teeth and fake birthmark tattoos on her shoulder. "[The teeth] give her that Hollywood smile — that sort of capped feel," he says. "Pushing out her lips was a secondary artifact . . . it really gave her that fullness and that voluptuousness."
The Most Recognizable Pamela Anderson Hairstyles They Re-Created
Referencing countless photographs, the hair department chose a few of Anderson's most recognizable hairstyles to re-create with wigs. "Hair was such a huge part of Pam's life," hair department head Barry Lee Moe says. He wanted to tell the story of Anderson's life and show the progression of her relationship with Lee through her hair.
A total of four wigs were created to have on hand for quick midday hair changes. All of the pieces were dyed a blend of three to four shades of blond to achieve Anderson's platinum hue.
"When they first fell in love, her hair was carefree and loose and that bombshell look that we all fell in love with." For that hairstyle, Moe used '90s styling techniques, like Velcro and hot rollers, to make the wigs look more authentic. "It was that iconic '90s voluminous, bouncy hair," he says. (The same style that's currently making a resurgence on TikTok.) To finish off the look, he used the Unite 7Seconds Glossing Spray ($30) for shine and the Unite Session-Max Spray ($30) for hold.
The other hairstyle that was important to Moe to replicate was Anderson's messy updo. "She wears [it] during the meeting with the lawyers at the end of the series," he says. Though it looks effortless, it was actually incredibly tricky to nail — right down to the loose pieces of hair that frame her face.
The Key to Pamela Anderson's Iconic Makeup
Nineties makeup is easily recognized. "Nudes, browns, and wine tones were the predominant colors of the day," makeup department head David Williams says. But Anderson had a bit of a different look to her. As a California girl, her makeup was on the lighter, more natural-looking side.
That said, the first thing that Williams' team felt they needed to nail was her brows, hence the forehead prosthetic and hand-sewn brow pieces. "The brows are Pam's most identifiable feature," he says. It was her super-slender, thinly plucked, high-arched shape that many people were trying to emulate at the time. "She was the benchmark for that, and so it was absolutely critical that the brows be spot-on for her in creating a look for Pam."
To get the look, Williams used a variety of products. Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipstick ($34) in Pillow Talk was a staple, as was the Chanel Rouge Coco Flash Lipstick ($42) in Boy for her "Baywatch" look. "The MAC liner pencil ($19) in Spice was such an iconic pencil of the day — we used that," he says. To get Pam's rosy cheeks, he used the Stila Convertible Color ($25) blush in Petunia and Petal.
The Prosthetics Used to Transform Sebastian Stan Into Tommy Lee
Unlike James, Stan didn't wear any facial prosthetics. Instead, he wore prosthetic nipples to get Lee's nipple rings, which were surprisingly challenging to get right. "It took us three times to finally get the perfect dimension so that they were reasonable," Collins says. "We went ahead and put the jewelry in those nipples and glued those on every day."
How They Copied Tommy Lee's Full-Body Tattoos
Replicating Lee's tattoos was a beast of its own. Though in real life, Lee added onto his tattoo collection throughout his relationship with Anderson, Collins's team wanted to have all of his designs done at the start of the show to not distract the viewer. "He wears about 30 to 35 tattoos, and it's a daily process of application on him," Collins says. Application of these special long-wearing tattoos includes printing the designs on a type of temporary tattoo paper, applying them to the body, then sealing them in a "company secret that encapsulates those tattoos." This keeps the designs protected from water, sweat, clothing, and touching. "When we put them on, they can actually wear them for a couple of days if they wanted to and not have any problems with anything washing off," Collins says. (The same tattoo technology was used to create Anderson's barbed-wire tattoo on her arm.)
While the temporary tattoos are meant to look like Lee's real artwork, if you were to inspect the designs closely, you'd notice a few key differences. This is because it's actually against copyright laws to depict exact designs in film and TV.
The Key to Tommy Lee's Rocker Makeup
The tattoos and nipple rings weren't all that went into Stan's transformation. In terms of makeup, Lee's heavy, smudged black eyeliner was a staple. "That rock-star liner tends to be less precise and more smudgy," Williams says. To get the look, he used a variety of pencils, but his favorites were the Make Up For Ever Aqua Resist Color Pencil Eyeliner ($22) and a discontinued Lancôme pencil that he has a personal stock of.
Transforming Sebastian Stan's Hair Into Tommy Lee's Rocker Style
Stan was the only main character to not wear a wig in the show. They had entertained the idea of putting him in one to preserve his hair and prevent damage, but ultimately decided against it at his request. "He wanted to make sure that he could just sweat and he could run his hands through it and never feel like he had any limitations," Moe says. But the process of getting Lee's '90s grunge style wasn't easy. "We started by doing a Brazilian straightening treatment, which we would do every three months," in addition to coloring his hair every two weeks. The styling portion was no easier. "Finding the perfect balance of product was crucial to achieving Lee's effortless, carefree look," Moe says. Ultimately, two pomades were used to give movable texture to his hair: Carol's Daughter Mimosa Hair Honey Shine Pomade ($14) and Reuzel Green Pomade Grease ($17).