Pamela Anderson’s image has been splashed all over — with and without her consent — and yet she’s been in financial trouble for much of her life.
That’s yet another revelation in her Netflix documentary, Pamela, A love story. The film, directed by Ryan White, is set at her home in Ladysmith, British Columbia — where she moved full-time in 2020 after unloading her property in Malibu, California. It’s on the water, has a boathouse, and is so vast that her parents could have a house on it. But has been described as “humble” – a funny word to associate with someone who has always been larger than life – and seems so, especially when it comes to celebrities.
In the film, Anderson talks about turning down $5 million for her infamous stolen tape, cut from home videos shot with then-husband Tommy Lee, in the ’90s, with the couple not making a dime. Playboy models never got rich off centerfolds and she didn’t have an agent when she negotiated her deal for the world’s most-watched TV show, Baywatch. There was no glamor squad for the doctor. In one scene, Anderson – one of the world’s most famous blondes – goes to a local drug story to buy a box of hair dye.
Her son Brandon Lee, a producer on the film, says bluntly that his mother has been in debt for most of her life as they discussed the tape, which she insisted she had no regrets about not making money from it. made – even if the offer was made a billion – because it was a violation. Anderson also expressed her continued concerns about her credit cards being declined. (Over the years, she’s made headlines for tax delinquencies, been involved in several high-profile lawsuits, and lost money tearing down and rebuilding that Malibu home, spending $8 million in cash, which she reportedly found difficult to afford. could pay.)
White, who helmed the documentary, tells Yahoo Entertainment he was “shocked” to learn of her financial woes, especially that she got so little from the global hit baywatch, in which she appeared for five years in the mid-90s.
“She was the most famous woman in the world on the most famous show in the world and she has no nest egg Baywatch to rely on,” White marvels.
White says he “just assumed” Anderson, “an icon” in pop culture, would be “unusually wealthy”. He didn’t realize she was only halfway through shooting. He told them how they were out to dinner together outside Las Vegas, and she insisted on paying.
“She was like, ‘Ryan, you always pay,'” which is common for a doc director, “just let me pay this once,” he recalls. “While handing over a credit card, she made this as a half joke [about how her credit card sometimes] doesn’t work… I laughed, but she said, “No, really, my credit cards have been declined a lot during my career. I’m just not a good financial planner.'”
He added, “It’s shocking for how famous she is and how much a part of American pop culture she’s been over the past 30 years that she’s been in financial trouble so many times. It was really revealing and really humanizing.”
In the film, Brandon told his mother that he wished she had made money off the stolen tape – as traumatizing as it was for her – because her career took such a hit from the tape. Both he and Dylan and the film look at Anderson’s life from the beginning to the present.
White says they are “such an unconventional family in many ways… You can’t categorize this family. They are insane in the best way, and so open and honest with each other, and have nothing to hide. It’s like this open door policy to talk about everything.”
White had to be “agile” with Anderson, he says, because he wasn’t quite sure what she was going to do next. The film uses her video archive (“hundreds and hundreds” of tapes she kept in the attic of her boathouse) and stacks of diaries she kept from teen to present, so on some days she agreed to release an old clip – like her wedding in Cancun to Lee in 1995 – but then it would stir up too many emotions and the next time he asked, she would decline.
“‘No, that time is over. I think you’ve had enough,” he recalled her saying. “And that’s what I love about Pamela is she’s very, very authentic. Nothing in my film — not even the hair dye stuff… — I’m like, I hope that doesn’t feel contrived because that was literally [me] ask, “Where are you going?” and she says, “I’m going to the drugstore” [and me tagging along] “not knowing she was going to get hair dye, not even knowing she dyed her own hair.”
He adds, “Every time I tried to direct Pamela or said, ‘Shall we do this today?’ She always said, ‘No,'” he laughs. “She always likes to do her own thing. So I learned to be very agile and always open to surprises. And I was repeatedly during filmmaking.”
Pamela, A love story comes out on Netflix Tuesday at 3 p.m. ET. The same day, Anderson’s memoir, Love, Pamela, goes on sale.