When Hulu premiered Pam & Tommy, the scripted TV series dredging up the most traumatic chapter of Pamela Anderson’s career, Anderson’s name was notably absent from the production. She did not consent to or sign off on the series, meaning that, nearly 30 years after her and her then-husband Tommy Lee’s home movies were stolen and distributed to the tune of over $75 million in sales in its first year alone, according to Rolling Stone—not a dollar of which she says she received—more Hollywood forces were profiting from her stolen personal property and trauma. Anderson did not comment on the series either, but she makes her feelings about the project—and many more subjects, including her stolen tape, marriages, and media misconceptions—known in a forthcoming documentary from Emmy-nominated documentarian Ryan White (The Case Against 8, The Keepers). Titled Pamela: a love story, the unsparing documentary chronicles Anderson’s complicated journey from small-town Canadian to Playboy pinup to ’90s icon to unlikely Broadway star—plus all the romances in between.
White, the acclaimed filmmaker behind this year’s Good Night Oppy, a documentary about the Mars space rover, says he generally has little interest in making celebrity documentaries.
“I feel like a lot of them are about brand management or selling a product, whatever that may be. And Pamela’s the opposite of that,” says White, revealing that the actor sat down with him for her interviews without makeup and answered his questions for hours on end. “From the very beginning, she was like, ‘You can ask me anything. I will talk about anything. I will be nothing but honest with you about it all.”
Anderson also gave the filmmaker decades’ worth of home movies and journals—chronicling her love life, career, and children’s coming-of-age—without even reviewing them first. “The infamous stolen tape, which we’re always very careful to call ‘the stolen tape’ and not ‘sex tape,’ was just one of hundreds of hours that they filmed,” says White, referring to Anderson and Lee. “There’s no calculation with how [Anderson] thinks about these types of things. It’s all just about being raw and honest, for better or worse. It made for a really emotional film and I’m really grateful that I got to work with someone like that.”
White says that Anderson’s sons, Brandon, 26, and Dylan, 24, convinced Anderson “to tell her story on her own terms. They adore their mother and really hate seeing her story being told by other people in a way that they don’t feel is authentic to who she is. Pamela, by nature, is an incredibly open and honest person. That’s perhaps why Pamela’s gotten burned a lot in her life, but I also think it’s what’s so lovable and infectious about her.”