‘Pam & Tommy’ Authentically Recreated ’90s Looks No One Ever Forgot

·6 min read

Curated by the IndieWire Crafts team, Craft Considerations is a platform for filmmakers to talk about recent work we believe is worthy of awards consideration. In partnership with Hulu, for this edition we look at how costume designer Kameron Lennox, hair department head Barry Lee Moe, makeup department head David Williams and special makeup effects designer Jason Collins brought the ’90s back to life for “Pam & Tommy.”

Hulu’s limited series “Pam & Tommy” chronicles the marriage of two of the most iconic and ubiquitous celebrities of the ’90s, “Baywatch” star Pamela Anderson and Motley Crue drummer Tommy Lee. The show is both an intimate character study and a sweeping portrait of an era, which created both inspiring opportunities and daunting challenges for the filmmakers tasked with comparing and contrasting the public and private lives of Pam, Tommy, and the members of their circle during the most dramatic period in their relationship. In the videos below costume designer Kameron Lennox, hair department head Barry Lee Moe, makeup department head David Williams and special makeup effects designer Jason Collins discuss their approach to bringing Pam, Tommy, and the pop culture epoch in which they lived to life.

More from IndieWire

The Makeup of “Pam & Tommy”

Makeup department head David Williams saw an incredible opportunity when he first heard about “Pam & Tommy.” He was on another project when a producer called to ask him if he could recommend anyone to take on “Pam & Tommy,” and his response was swift: “I said, ‘Yeah, me, I’ll do it!’” Williams told IndieWire. “I thought the show had the potential to transform our careers and the actors’ careers, because there were so many things in it that people didn’t expect were real possibilities.” One of those things was transforming Lily James and Sebastian Stan into convincing likenesses of Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee, which required the aid of Williams’ frequent collaborator Jason Collins. As the show’s special makeup effects designer, he was tasked with creating prosthetics that would alter the actors’ faces and bodies without going too far and overwhelming the performances at the heart of the show.

“When it comes to what we do and what we put on the face, everything has to enhance the character,” Williams said. “Nothing can be distracting to the audience, and nothing can pull the actor out of their process.” To create Pam, Williams and Collins tried a number of approaches before landing on a prosthetic forehead. “Her hairline was a huge key,” Collins told IndieWire. “We tried a lot of things in the testing like noses and realized that while those things looked good cosmetically they were still distracting. You can’t just put a bunch of stuff on somebody’s face and make them look like Pam. You have to take their facial structure into consideration.” Noticing that Lily James and Pam Anderson had similar jaws, Collins realized she just needed a little augmentation and not a massive physical conversion. “One of the things that worked to our advantage was that we were turning one beautiful woman into another beautiful woman,” Williams said. “There wasn’t a tremendous amount of correction to take away things. It was always adding the right piece or the right color in the right place.”

The Costume Design of “Pam & Tommy”

Costume designer Kameron Lennox had no shortage of reference material for her two lead characters, given that Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee lived their lives in the public eye — it was no problem finding photographs and video footage of their popular ’90s looks. That meant increased pressure to get it right, since she knew her work would be scrutinized for its adherence not only to reality but to the audience’s memories of the era. She realized that her own memory hadn’t taken Anderson’s personal style into account. “I wasn’t picking up at the time that Pamela really had a sense of couture,” she told IndieWire. “She was really aware of the trends at the time, and was setting trends herself.” While it might seem simple to outside eyes, Anderson’s famous “Baywatch” bathing suit created the greatest amount of stress for Lennox. “I did lose a lot of sleep over it,” she said, noting that not only was the suit extremely specific in its design, but it had to work with the prosthetic body parts Lily James was wearing. “There were a lot of variables not in our favor when keeping it on her body, especially when she’s running on the beach.”

Although there was an abundance of documentation when it came to Pam and Tommy’s journey through show business, that research material only told half the story. “When they were in the public, they were dressed to be in the public,” Lennox said. “There are very few private photos of them, almost none. So we tried to pull things together that were popular at the time that we thought they would wear. I did read Tommy’s book, ‘Tommyland,’ and he talks about wearing close to nothing when he played drums, which was all the time. He was always scantily clad because he would get so hot, so we did take that into consideration and weren’t putting him in layers of stuff when he was hanging around at his house.” As outlandish as some of Lee’s costumes — particularly his wildly stylized thongs — might have been, Lennox’s main concern was staying true to the character and the times. “It was really important for us never to make fun of [the characters]. It was never satire — it was always ‘What is this very real moment in this person’s life?’”

The Hair of “Pam & Tommy”

When Barry Lee Moe got the call to come on board as hair department head for “Pam & Tommy,” he couldn’t believe his luck. “I immediately lost my mind,” Moe told IndieWire. “To have the opportunity to recreate one of the most iconic women in history in terms of pop culture and beauty was a dream come true.” Moe honed in on well-known instances when Pam and Tommy were at the center of the zeitgeist; like Lennox, he knew that nailing the authenticity of these moments was vital. “‘The Tonight Show’ and ‘Baywatch’ were two key moments that we really wanted to nail,” he said. “We really wanted to get those spot-on.” To that end, Moe compiled as many photos as possible and was constantly comparing the wigs he created for Lily James with his research – the goal in scenes like the ‘Tonight Show” episode that opens the series being to make the audience wonder if they were looking at a recreation or archival footage.

Moe took different approaches to his two lead characters. “Lily was totally on board to color her own hair, but once we started looking at the schedule and the number of looks we were going to have to create it became apparent that it wasn’t going to be the best idea because her time would be limited. So we ended up building four wigs for her.” Moe initially planned on a series of wigs for Stan as well, but Stan had already grown his hair out and wanted to live and breathe Tommy Lee. “We ended up doing a straightening treatment on his hair and then coloring it every two weeks to maintain that black look Tommy had,” Moe explained, adding that the actor’s sense of participation is essential. “It’s very easy to design looks for a show and say to the actor, ‘Here’s what your hair’s going to be like’ without any collaboration or discussion of what they’re feeling. But ultimately through that collaboration, when they step onto set, they’re going to bring the most accurate and authentic portrayal of their character.”

Best of IndieWire

Sign up for Indiewire's Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Click here to read the full article.