Who Plays Hugh Hefner In Pam & Tommy

Who Plays Hugh Hefner In Pam & Tommy

Hugh Hefner was influential in Pamela Anderson’s modeling career and founded the famous Playboy magazine. Here’s who plays him in Pam and Tommy.

Pam and Tommy includes Playboy magazine’s editor-in-chief and founder, Hugh Hefner, but who plays him in the limited series? Following the traumatic case of Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee’s sex tape in 1996, Hulu’s Pam and Tommy is based on Amanda Chicago Lewis’ 2014 Rolling Stone article “Pam and Tommy: The Untold Story of the World’s Most Infamous Sex Tape.”  In addition to her role as CJ Parker in Baywatch, Pamela Anderson built a successful modeling career with Playboy magazine beginning in 1989. She has been on Playboy’s cover a record 13 times, with her last cover appearance being as recent as January 2011. It’s only natural, then, that Pam and Tommy would include Hefner.

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Hugh Hefner is remembered as an iconic but controversial figure. The rivalry between Hefner and Penthouse’s Bob Guccione partly stems from the fact that Penthouse could never break into the American consciousness as Playboy did. In a way, Hefner built a monopoly on the soft-porn industry before the internet made porn more accessible and varied. With that said, people consider Hefner strongly responsible for furthering the exploitation of women in mainstream media. Whatever layers there are to his complex reputation, Pam and Tommy gives Hefner brief on-screen moments where he’s portrayed as classy and welcoming.

Related: Who Is Bob Guccione? Pam & Tommy Episode 5 Character Explained

The actor portraying Hugh Hefner in Pam and Tommy is Mike Seely. Mainly having been in shorts and indie films, Seely’s more notable works include 2019’s Dark Waters with Mark Ruffalo and Tim Robbins, an episode of Nashville, and 2020’s The Wanderer. While Lily James must transform dramatically into Pamela Anderson by sitting through four hours of makeup, Seely already gives off the perfect embodiment of Hefner. Pam and Tommy’s choice to cast Seely as Hugh Hefner is wise not just because of his visage compared to the magazine founder, but also because the show is already clouded with high-caliber names like Seth Rogen, the MCU’s Sebastian Stan, and the aforementioned James.

Split image of the real Hugh Hefner and Mike Seely's Hugh Hefner in Pam and Tommy.

Biopics risk the names of big stars superseding the name of the parts they play. There are many incredible performances of famous people given by A-list actors, such as Gary Oldman’s Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour and Rami Malek’s Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody. Nonetheless, a big name portraying someone even equally famous can serve more like a marketing tactic despite, or at times because of, a sometimes intense makeup transformation. However, unlike Seth Rogen’s Rand Gauthier or Lily James’ Pamela Anderson, Mike Seely appears just as Hugh Hefner, not as Mike Seely’s Hugh Hefner. Rand Gauthier is an unknown person that Seth Rogen could elevate with his star power, and Pamela Anderson is famous enough for it to be appropriate to have a big name portray her. However, Hugh Hefner is more of a minor character in Pam and Tommy, and using a bigger name would therefore be wasteful. Hefner was also a character in his own right, and an A-list name could dull the portrayal.

While the show ironically never received the real Pamela Anderson’s consent, Pam and Tommy directs a lot of sympathy towards her and tries to show the full scope of her victimhood. The show’s creative liberties, like Pamela Anderson’s Baywatch monologue, are sometimes included expressly to build her character. Mike Seely portrays Hugh Hefner not as a larger-than-life media giant but as a fatherly figure who sees Pam’s potential. In doing so, Seely brings an aspect to the role that brings out Pam and Tommy’s main message about the whole sex scandal. Pamela Anderson was the victim of not just an extreme invasion of privacy but of systemic sexism.

More: Did Pam & Tommy Win The Penthouse Lawsuit?

Pam & Tommy releases new episodes every Wednesday on Hulu.

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About The Author

Allison Wonchoba
(45 Articles Published)

Allison Wonchoba is a Features writer on Screen Rant. She holds a degree in Cinema and English, and she knows (probably) all things film and TV. Working at Hot Topic for a couple years also helped her know all things pop culture-y. Once upon a time, she also interned at a radio station in Dublin, Ireland where she got more media training – and built up her Sudoku skills on the side. She likes Pina Coladas and gettin’ caught in the rain – and she knows that’s NOT a Jimmy Buffet song.

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