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[This story contains spoilers for Pam & Tommy episode four]
The party is over.
The fourth episode of Pam & Tommy has arrived, and with it, a revelation for some and a reminder for others, of just how devastating the tape situation was for Pamela Anderson (Lily James).
To this point, the Hulu limited series has focused on the glitz and glamour of the central couple and their wild, whirlwind relationship. But “The Master Beta” strikes a new chord. Among the humorous moments, of which there are plenty, there is the tale of a couple — but more so a woman — being victimized.
Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter, episode director Lake Bell, who has a personal experience with abhorrent invasion of privacy, calls the central theme of this episode her “North Star.” The director also discusses her great joy of working on a ’90s period piece and the pure greatness who is Nick Offerman.
This episode really humanizes the couple, especially Pamela. Can you talk about that important departure from what was previously in the series a huge party?
The narrative shifts and crystallizes into something raw and exposing vs. the pop culture, sexy world. It’s a crime story about invasion. Lilly and I really connected on this particular episode in the sense that Pam’s voice was muted at the time of the incident. In episode four, you’re reminded of the criminal event of theft of a private tape not intended for the public. It is a personal issue for me. I was a victim of the 2014 [celebrity nude photo leak] hacking and Lily has had photos published that were sensitive. So I think we both had this added layer of connection.
Did that personal connection to invasion make this episode empowering or difficult, or both, to direct?
It is a vulnerability that you cannot control and [I] did not ask for. So, there is an exhilarating quality to this episode where Pam allows herself to connect with rage. I think women are encouraged to not express rage and anger. It was very cathartic at the end when we shot that final scene. It was 110 degrees. It kept getting pushed because of COVID. I only had two takes to do it. And I was like, “Let this woman smash this car.” It was this wild, kinetic beat that seals this rage. My North Star was to protect the story of this woman who is grossly exploited.
The episode also does a fantastic job of reminding viewers such an experience is not the same for men as it is for women. Equally important to show, yes?
From Pam’s point of view, it is a violation and an indictment of her privacy. For Tommy (Sebastian Stan) — he is pissed and on the offensive. That is a big turning point in their relationship. They had to deal with real coupledom life-shift, not just the pomp and circumstance of being beautiful, wealthy, young and successful.
The ’90s vibe to the series is epic. What was that like to work within?
It was really fun because I grew up in the ’90s. The music alone is luxurious and makes it really fun. Sometimes [to set] I would dress ’90s just for fun. The time is a character in the show. You can’t half any of this. For me, it’s the cars and the innards of the cars. The smell! A lot of gas smell. And also the electronics and computers, like waiting for a website to load.
All your leads were tremendous, but Nick Offerman really stole this episode for me. What was it like directing him?
I have directed Offerman for ages now. His dryness; he has such funny bones, he can play the circumstances very real and find humor in it. Nick Offerman, he commits. He is amazing.
Interview edited for length and clarity.
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