Talking about reteaming with her I, Tonya director Craig Gillespie on Pam & Tommy, Oscar-nominated editor Tatiana S. Riegel describes the stories Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee, and that of Tonya Harding, as “misunderstood.”
“I actually find them kind of similar, the two stories,” Riegel says in a new episode of The Hollywood Reporter‘s Behind the Screen podcast. “Because of the length of time (since the events occurred), a lot of people either didn’t know anything about it, or had a preconception of what the stories were going to be — often a very judgmental preconception.”
Hulu’s Pam & Tommy revolves around the marriage of model-actress Anderson and Mötley Crüe drummer Lee and the theft of their notorious sex tape and streamed earlier this year.
“I knew there was going to be a certain emotional level to it,” Riegel adds of Gillespie being at the helm. “And it would be intriguing in addition to his comic sense, [showcasing] his ability to sort of walk back and forth between those two places in a lovely way.”
A favorite scene for Riegel, whose work with Gillespie also includes Disney’s Cruella, occurs in episode two and features newlyweds Pam (Lily James) and Tommy (Sebastian Stan) at home one night watching TV as Pam introduces her husband to The King and I. She sings “Getting to Know You” from the classic musical as the pair playfully giggle and dance around the bedroom.
“That particular scene was a real pivotal turning point, emotionally, in the story,” Riegel says. “This is a really unusual scene, to have a character like Tommy Lee watching this musical. She’s so into it. I find it to be this really sweet, vulnerable scene that they both are participating in. And I feel like that really cracks the door open for the rest of the season.”
During the conversation, Riegel also discusses her approach to film editing, including why she “avoids the set at all costs.”
“I have a lot of work to do, number one. And number two, I think [being on set] influences my perception,” Riegel says. [When] I watch the dailies … I try to hold onto … my first emotional reaction–to a take, a line, a performance, whatever it is, as whether it’s genuine or real, or made me laugh or made me cry.”
“[But] there’s a very classic thing that happens where things are hysterical on the set,” she continues. “Everybody loves it. And when it actually comes into the cutting room and you watch it in dailies, it’s not so funny anymore, or vice versa. And so everybody’s like, ‘That seemed so much funnier on the day.’ It’s not an editorial thing. It’s just a translation thing. …. It’s like watching a comedy at home alone, versus with a huge audience. It’s a different experience.”
You can listen to the full conversation below, in the new episode of Behind the Screen.