How Actor Sebastian Stan Was Tattooed Like Tommy Lee for ‘Pam & Tommy’
When portraying a rock star in a movie or TV show, it's important to remember certain aesthetic details such as tattoos. Actor Sebastian Stan, who plays Motley Crue drummer Tommy Lee in the Hulu series Pam & Tommy, had to have 35 fake tattoos applied every day to look like the rocker.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, Stan doesn't have any tattoos of his own. For the series, he worked with special effects company Autonomous FX, and was covered in plastic wrap as the artists designed the faux tattoos on his body. The sketches were then processed through Photoshop, transferred onto decal paper and placed on the skin.
The tattoos need to be reapplied daily, which for Stan and Autonomous FX owner Jason Collins, was a three-hour process. Though that isn't actually a long time in the world of special effects, each tattoo on Stan's arm was a single piece, so the team had to make sure they were applying them to the same area every time.
In addition to all of the work the effects teams put in generating these fake tattoos, they have to beware of any potential legal issues, because the tattoo artists who did the original pieces in real life can sue if the fake ones in the movies or shows are identical. Unless the artists provide clearance, the effects teams have to come up with original designs, which was the case for Collins, who had to create a 20 to 30 percent difference in his own versions of Lee's tattoos.
"As long as you have the color, the composition, the arch, that kind of thing, generally you can get away with a lot,” Collins explained. “There’s a lot of things that we changed on his arm for clearance purposes, but they’re the same color and they’re in the right place. If you’re looking and you’re an avid Motley Crew or Tommy Lee fan, you’re going to see things that you’re like, ‘Oh, wait a minute.'”
You may recall when Machine Gun Kelly portrayed Lee in the 2019 Netflix film The Dirt, which was based on Motley Crue's 2001 biography of the same name. The process then was even more of a challenge, given how many tattoos MGK has of his own that needed to be completely covered before applying the replicas of Lee's. They, too, had to repeat that same procedure every day.