Here’s a new interview of Taylor Schilling with Collider
Collider: Thank you for talking to me about this. It seems like there are endless conversations to be had about this show and this story.
TAYLOR SCHILLING: I know. You don’t know even where to begin.
When you first heard about this project, before reading a script and before learning about what the approach to the story would be, what was your reaction, just to the idea that they were doing this? Were you immediately intrigued or did you have a lot of questions?
SCHILLING: I was so intrigued, particularly once I’d read the script. I knew the material that the show was dealing with, and it wasn’t just a show about a sex tape. It was shedding new light on the crime committed against Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee. I found it really nuanced and important.
And it’s crazy that how she was treated isn’t a crime at all.
SCHILLING: Absolutely. One of the things that the show does really beautifully is that it illustrates how we were collectively complicit. Rather than lifting her or finding justice for her, we were further exploiting the situation.
Your character in this is having a very different life experience than Pamela Anderson is having in it. In order to take on a character in this show, was it important to you that Pamela was not just portrayed as some sort of caricature?
SCHILLING: Yeah, absolutely. It was very important for Erica to be in this story because, in order to illustrate and really highlight the exploitation Pam was experiencing, it was really important to see a woman who was actively making the choice with her own agency and all faculties cracking to be a sex worker, so she could say, “No, this isn’t porn. What I do is porn, and I’m happy to be doing it, but it’s my choice. But what we just to Pamela Anderson is a violent crime. That we can see this very intimate and private moment is a crime.” I think it’s really useful to have the character of Erica because of that.
Was that a world that you dug into, at all? Did you look into the porn industry, as part of your prep for this?
SCHILLING: It’s interesting because Pamela Anderson was in Playboy and she chose to be an actress, but she was not putting out videos. She was not a porn actress. She was never actually that, so that never really should have been a place that she was pivoting from. That was never a choice she made. For Erica, so much of that is answered in the script. Erica was very clearly outlined. Her purpose in the story is very clearly outlined. What’s also fascinating is that she’s a real live person. She made dozens and dozens and dozens of porn films. Her body of work is huge, with the films that she made. And then, she was one of the first female directors of pornography. She’s a great example of somebody who, to the best of her ability and with the resources she had, was making choices that she wanted to make.
SCHILLING: I loved working with Seth. It was so fun. He’s obviously so funny. He’s a very funny man, and very generous with his time and energy. It was very effortless and fun.
There were so many bad, wrong, and toxic elements to this story, with the way that everything was handled with how it framed, with who Pamela Anderson was for people. When your character realizes the role that Rand played in all of this, how do you think she felt about him? Do you think it was something where she was surprised that he did what he did, or do you feel like she knew him well enough to not be all that surprised by his actions?
SCHILLING: I think she was deeply surprised. She was shaken to her core and disappointed. Also, what I think is so interesting about Erica and Rand is that they really loved each other. Erica really, really loved this man. As happens with great love, there often is a pocket of understanding and empathy that’s left, and I think she’s constantly able to access that. He’s done some pretty stupid stuff, but he’s just human. He’s a human being, and he’s a good one.
It’s so interesting that, even though there are all of these tentacles to this story, everything is completely separate and your character never crosses paths with Pam and Tommy. What was it like to see that transformation and to see what they did with the roles?
SCHILLING: It was crazy. The first time I ever saw a picture of Lily [James], I was with the very brilliant hair and makeup team, who were the mind-blowing artists that pulled that off, every single day, and I saw a photo of what I thought was Pamela Anderson. I thought it was an inspiration for the character, but come to find out, it was a continuity photo that hairdresser had up on the mirror. That’s when I was like, “Oh, wow, this goes deep. This is really deep, transformative work.”
What did you think of your character’s fashion and style? Did you get to have a hand or a say in her hair and wardrobe?
SCHILLING: Yeah, a little bit. The head of the hair department had done very diligent research, and my hair is very spot-on for what the real Erica’s hair was like, at different stages of her journey. And because she’s left so many films, there are so many images of her, so it was easy to get a very strong read on what she looked like. You could really, point for point, copy her hair, so that was pretty set. But I definitely had some ideas about wardrobe, and we dove into that. That was pretty fun. I had a lot of fun with the whole aesthetic of the character.
It’s wild that your character really has the sweetest story, amidst all the crazy and awful things that are going on.
SCHILLING: Isn’t it? It’s incredible. She’s able to hold down a compass of truth or love or kindness or decency, or something.