Barb Wire: A look back at the movie that ruined Pamela Anderson’s career

It was to be her first big Hollywood hit, turning the Baywatch naiad into a leather superheroine. A huge failure, critical and commercial, entered into history.

“In a world that has become Hell, even the angels are armeds.” In 1996, pamela anderson – who was then called Pamela Anderson Lee – took the plunge, from the small screen to the cinema, leaving her red swimsuit in the locker room for her leather outfit. Barbwire. A nanar entered in the annals of the 7th art in the category “not to do”, and on which the last episode of Pam & Tommy largely focused (on Disney+ since Wednesday).

A pivotal moment in the life of pamela anderson, and his entire career. So much so that the production of the series allowed itself to recreate one or two sequences from the film, bringing back Clint Howard, who resumes his role of Schmitz, 25 years later: “Everyone was sport. the original actors were ready to redo the scene we had chosen! They really showed a good dose of self-mockery”, comments in Variety director Lake Bell.

Pam & Tommy barb wire

But what is it, exactly? Barbwire ? No longer really broadcast on TV and buried somewhere in Hollywood, this little blockbuster should have allowed pamela anderson to take a step forward in their career. “When Jane Fonda started out, she was just the nice next door neighbor. And then she did Barbarella and she became this huge sex symbol. And then she got to do all these serious Oscar movies”we hear Lily James say in Pam & Tommyas if to sum up the career plan of the naiad of Baywatch at the time. Besides pamela anderson wanted to play the character so much, that she got a tattoo, for real, of the famous barbed wire (the barb wire) that we see on the left biceps of Barbwire. And despite a change of director (Adam Rifkin left shortly before filming before being replaced by David Hogan), despite the famous sex tape circulating, despite a tragic miscarriage in his personal life, pamela anderson held on. She believed in it, against all odds.

“There was the first director, then the second director, then I had medical issues on set and I got married right before the movie, which probably wasn’t the best timing… But at the “At the end of the day, I hope this chaos around the production will add to the mood of the film. Because this film depicts chaos and I think in the end it will be great.” confided the actress to the American Premiere magazine, published in May 1996.

barb wire pamela anderson
Polygram Filmed Entertainment

It should be noted that the story of the film takes place in the near future, in 2017, in a kind of American dictatorship. Barbwire, bar owner in the last free territory of the United States, is also a mercenary who sells her services to the highest bidders. After having swung his killer line: “Don’t call me baby”she kicks the asses of stupid big arms for 1h30.

A futuristic action film without means, with a very limited budget of 9 million dollars, and drawn from an old comic book a little dated, the disaster was announced. The reviews are scathing. Worse, they laugh at the film. And it’s pamela anderson which takes for all production: “Ms. Lee’s makeup is so huge that she doesn’t seem able to display any emotion“, writes the New York Times. Entertainment Weekly is even more direct: “Now that we see her on the big screen, it’s more evident than ever that Pamela Anderson Lee is a constructed goddess, a creature with synthetic hair, synthetic attitude, synthetic all over the place…A Cheesecake straight out of a laboratory…” In the aftermath, the film is a terrible flop at the box office, unable to pass the bar of 4 million dollars in revenue. An absolute commercial failure, which will be worth as a bonus to the actressBaywatch the award for “worst actress” of the year at the Razzie Awards.

The nightmare is total for pamela anderson. His film career which has just started is already over. Never again will she have a chance in Hollywood, at least in the cinema. Is she just relegated to playing her own role in Scooby Doo (2002) or Borat (2006), as irrefutable proof that the star, Pamela, is far too pregnant for the actress to really exist.

And the height of the irony of fate: in Barbwire, the one who shares the top of the bill with her is called Temuera Morrison. Shortly after, the New Zealand actor will become Jango Fett for the prelogy Star Warsa solid golden role that he still cultivates today, with his own series Boba Fettalso broadcast on Disney +, as Pam & Tommy

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