In a new interview, James told Net-a-Porter's Porter magazine that she did try, though.
"And I was very hopeful that we would be in touch right up until we started filming," James said of the former Baywatch star.
Moreover, James explained that she also had hoped she would have more than a casual conversation with Anderson. She actually wanted her to have been involved in the project, which focuses on Anderson and the Mötley Crüe rocker's romance and, after a tape of them having sex was stolen and leaked, a full-blown scandal.
"I wish it had been different," the former Downton Abbey actress said. "My sole intention was to take care of the story and to play Pamela authentically."
Even without Anderson's help, James took a pretty deep dive.
"I've never worked so hard," James said. "I read the books [Anderson] has written, I read her poetry, I can parrot along to all her interviews. And then, of course, there was the physical transformation. Slowly, our incredible team found a balance where I resembled Pamela but also felt like I could act through it."
Four hours of makeup and other preparation daily were required for her to become the iconic blonde.
"I've never done anything where I look very different from myself before. And I'd really like to continue in this vein, because I felt there was something very freeing and liberating in it," James said. "There was a bravery that came from that. A courage that came from… disappearing."
So much so that she didn't want to stop playing the part.
"I hated it," she said of becoming herself again. "It was like being stripped of all these superpowers! I’d really enjoyed the physicality and the sensuality, even down to the long fingernails. There was just so much character to hold on to — it was really thrilling."
The English actress said taking another look at what happened in the scandal felt important.
"The shaming was so extreme. Unfortunately, that's still the case, don't you think?" James asked. "Women are held to much higher standards and attacked in ways that feel so vicious. Pamela had such wit and grace in the way that she held herself. I admire that strength."