Reggie Lee On Grimm’s Diversity
Reggie Lee, Sgt Wu himself spoke about a new Wesen that he suggested, his first name and Grimm’s diversity of their Wesens with us reporters in a Q and A in 2014
So up until now Wu hasn’t been a member of the Scooby Gang in that he doesn’t know about Wesen.
Reggie Lee: Right.
How important do you think it is to the story that there is someone who is ignorant of that fact?
Reggie Lee: You know, it’s a constant back and forth. And I think from the outside and the creators and me and from the audience, I think that – listen, I think that it’s important that there’s some kind of a balance. Because I think if there is no – and I think they’ve strung it along up to this point because of that particular reason. And who knows what they’ll do from here on out, you know? And who knows what will happen?
Reggie Lee: So – but I think there – listen, if everyone knew, I think it would be less of an effect, right? If there was no one that was like, “uh”, the balance wouldn’t be there. I think that’s really important for the show. That being said, you had shows like Buffy where kind of everyone knew. And so everyone was in the fray and doing their thing. So these creators, I think they’re kind of weighing the options in terms of that.And seeing what would be best. But I think for the audience point of view — and I think you’ll agree with me — that it’s kind of interesting to have some kind of balance in the show where someone doesn’t know and some people know. And it needs that because if everyone knew it would just be, like, all about solving the crimes versus, “Oh, God, we’ve got to keep this secret from some people and not tell them.” So, you know, with this episode you’ll see what happens.
But the following…Yes. Well, I’ve seen the episode and following up on that, Wu finally does see something, and it’s based on something that his mother or his grandmother — I can’t – I’m sorry — has told him.
Reggie Lee: His grandmother. My grandmother. Yes.
So, I mean, how real does that make it to him, and is it really based on a real Filipino myth?
Reggie Lee: Yes, it is. As a matter of fact, I mean the writer – the creators are so wonderfully collaborative. They actually came to me and said, “Do you know any of – do you know any Filipino folklore?” I said, “Yes. We have actually quite a bit.” And so I gave them a list and it included the aswang — which is probably the most popular one in Filipino folklore. So it is something – it was always told, like, you know, amidst relatives, it’s told now, it’s believed in. As a matter of fact, very big in the Philippines. So it’s very real.As to what I saw and how real that is for me, I mean as a kid you’re growing up – you grow up, like, thinking that this stuff is real. And of course, like anything, it’s like Santa Claus, right? At some certain point you’re like, “Oh, no. Whatever.” So, and “That’s not real.”But then, you know, I think for me — now I’m speaking as Wu — I think what I saw seemed pretty real to me. So I’ve got to figure that out for myself. So you’ve seen the episode and I’ve got to kind of figure that out and this particular point.But for me it was real.So how they couldn’t see that, I don’t understand.That’s what I don’t understand right now.
I’ve also seen the upcoming episode and wow, congratulations on and thank you for your superb performance. It’s such a change of pace for Sergeant Wu.
Reggie Lee: That makes me feel good. Thank you. Thank you so much. I had a blast.
I know it’s sometimes unnerving for actors to take on kind of a different route with their character, but wow, you totally nailed it. It was just really fun to watch.
Reggie Lee: Thanks. That was different. I’m so glad – I’m very appreciative of what you just said just now because it was a question in my mind. It was like, wow, Wu is so known for his sarcasm and being sardonic and that’s how I’m used to – that’s in my body now at this particular point, you know. And then to get this script and go, (unintelligible) in here that you don’t ever see him in a state of, you know, or being out of control.So to blend the two was a real question and a wonderful, wonderful fulfilling time for me to actually work on outside of shooting it. So the stuff that I did beforehand to get to prepare was really fun for me. So thank you for noticing that.
And that’s what I was going to ask. What did you do to – absolutely. So what did you do to prepare for it?
Reggie Lee: You know, (Silas Weir Mitchell) and I have gone to the same – we’ve gone to the same acting coach for over 10 years. We’ve studied with each other. Before we even got this show we were doing a scene together in acting class.When we got this show together it was just really kind of cool, but I had – when I got this script, the way we both kind of prepare is there’s no shorthand how we prepare. We kind of imagine for hours on end. So when I saw this script I actually went through it and marked it and logged about 100 hours of homework before I started shooting this particular episode. So I would find time to kind of – I was doing homework for about eight to ten hours a day where you would literally sit and imagine.It’s kind of – say if you were a kid — and this is the way we usually do it — if you’re a kid you stare at the closet wall and say there’s a monster in there, after about 10 minutes you’d actually think that there was a monster in there.And it would feel as real to you as possible. So that’s kind of how I work now. So there’s no shorthand to that. You kind of sit and imagine the circumstances being as real to you as possible. So in that effect, it did take 100 hours, but it was fun. It was fun. Once I got on set I could let it go and really just fly and have fun. So I’m appreciative that you’ve noticed that.
Do you have a favorite other Filipino legend that you’d like to see them bring in?
Reggie Lee: Yes. I mean there is, you know, there’s so many, but the really – there’s one popular one called the manananggal — which is also an aswang which is kind of a person that separates in half that goes flying around. Yes, so that’s the other really popular one. But I would love – there’s that and there’s also one called the white lady — which is akin to la llorona, the Mexican folklore that we did — which is really freaky that we’ve all grown up with. So maybe they could do a version of that. You know, who knows? Because I think they really enjoyed doing this one. Hopefully we’ll have another one sometime.Maybe season 10. Maybe then.
his was a really great episode and you were great in it, although I was yelling at the TV after the way they ended it. But…
Reggie Lee: I know. I’ve often – well, there’s some people that I’ve talked to that have seen in and, like I, “How did that feel to you?” And they’re like, “I was sad. I was sad.” But, you know, when I saw it first written that way and I kind of knew I had to preface — like, at the beginning of the season kind of — how this was going to go and I prepared myself for it. But it was never the way I thought it would end or the way I thought I would react. Let’s put it that way. So it’s definitely one that I’ve had to take into account because it’ll linger on for a little bit. So we’ll see.
I wanted to ask though is in this episode you get a name finally. So were you excited about that? I know before you said you wanted Lou, so did you have any input in it or?
Reggie Lee: Ultimately I think it was really up to them, you know, but also up to what could be cleared. So a lot of times there are names that you want that can’t be cleared so it falls that way. But I, you know, I kind of like this one. I mean it’s a different ring from what I thought it would be, but I like it. I like it. I’ve grown to like it.
Then for the follow-up I was just going to ask if you — obviously you’re not — but if you had found out your character was a Wesen, what kind of creature would you want to be — even if you made it up — if it were up to you?
Reggie Lee: A weasel.
Reggie Lee: I’ve always said that. I’ve said I wanted to be a weasel. It’s interesting because the Grimm writers were like, maybe – they were Tweeting just kidding. They were like, “I think Wu might be a marsupial.” No. No. I am a weasel. I’m a weasel.
Tony Tellado: Hi, Reggie. It’s good to talk to you again. You were the first one to sit at our table at San Diego Comic-Con, so…
Reggie Lee: That seems so long ago, doesn’t it?
Tony Tellado: Doesn’t it? Yes. I’m getting ready for the next one actually.
Reggie Lee: I know. You probably just – so you’ve got your credentials and everything already?
Tony Tellado: Well, yes. There’s like two steps and I’m on the first step. I’m there, and then the press pass comes later. So it’s, yes…
Reggie Lee: Okay.Well, we’ll see you there hopefully. We’ll see you there hopefully.
Tony Tellado: Yes. Yes. It’s great. I like to the Spice Store was this year – last year. That was great.
Reggie Lee: Yes.
Tony Tellado: And I wanted to ask you, you know, with the great make-up department that you guys have, did you have any input on the look of the creature for this week?
Reggie Lee: No. Not at all. As a matter of fact, when I was doing my “homework” for the show I wanted to see — and we usually don’t – aren’t able. Well, here’s the thing is that I’ve never been privy to the creatures. So I’ve never really had to ask this, and I asked them, you know, what – can I see what I’m going to see? So can you send me an email of what I’m going to see? And it was already fully drawn out.So I – and people have also asked me, you know, is it what you thought it would be? And in that respect it isn’t what I thought it would be. However, I love what they came up with because it’s so much creepier than what I ever thought it would be and, you know, the long tongue and the – I always had envisioned actually this creature to be kind of woman-like, but having the long tongue as well. But this whole version of it, I didn’t have any input. But boy, what they came up with was pretty wham bam, scary, creepy.
Tony Tellado: Cool. You know, because of the diversity of all the legends and really just the storyline I really felt that this season you guys really have taken it up a notch. How does it feel for you guys when you get your scripts? Do you feel like they’re ahead of what you were last year?
Reggie Lee: Definitely. At the beginning of this season, I mean we were – I think they might have given us like five scripts before we even started shooting one. So they were way, way ahead which makes it joyous for the rest of us because you can do your homework. You can do your preparation for all this stuff, you know. Especially David and Russell, who work every single day. I think it was really great for them to have that jump on it.The great thing is too, I think what they’ve decided this year — as they have little bits and pieces in the past several seasons — they’ve really decided to go international.
Tony Tellado: Yes.
Reggie Lee: You know. And I think that that’s the key. They’re really scoping out all the folklore in different parts of the world — which is really great for me. I mean how often really do you get a Filipino storyline in a show? Not very often. I can’t think of any. So how great for them to really focus on that.And I’ll tell you what. The Filipinos are excited. They’re excited about it. So it was really a joy for me to be the one to break that kind of news to them and go, “Listen, Grimm’s doing a Filipino episode.” And just everyone’s excited. So they’ve done – they’re real conscientious about that. And they’re going out and scoping out the entire world, so…
Tony Tellado: Yes, that’s cool. You might even get some new viewers as a result of that too. That would be awesome.
Reggie Lee: I think so and I hope so, you know. I mean, because this show is popular internationally…
Tony Tellado: Yes.
Reggie Lee: …that I think – we’ve got so many, just so many fans that love this show all over the world I think once it hits their country and their folklore. I mean, I’m sure they look forward to that. And I’m sure that the closer to them it gets, the more they can relate, you know. So I’m hoping that we do that even more, and I think they will.
Tony Tellado: Yes, that sounds great. Thank you, Reggie.
Reggie Lee: Absolutely.We’ll see you soon.
Tony Tellado: Yes.
I have to agree with others that have said what an amazing job you did in the episode. I was so excited to watch it and it was so great. Even if – have I have to agree with the others with the ending that left me a little bit, a mixture of mad and sad.
Reggie Lee: I think in…
So it’s going to be a tough wait to see the rest of it.
Reggie Lee: Gosh, as much as I – I love this character so much. I mean I really do, and I think that that’s part of the reason that I really work my butt off kind of working on it. But it is, man, just the interaction with you guys and hearing you guys say that has been – has made my morning, really. And I’m so appreciative to all you guys that have watched and been so detailed about watching Wu’s journey. Not Wu’s journey, but the entire show really. But those of you that have really been so attentive and know him to the point where you do get affected, you know, in the way he’s affected is really – I feel very – it’s warming to me. So I’m touched right now. I’m touched. So thank you, Vicki. I appreciate it.
You know, I have to say also I’m very happy to see that he finally gets a first name because that was one of the big questions from people when I was asking. So leaning into that and more of the character, now we’re obviously getting to see more focus on Wu and it looks as though there’s got to be more of an arc to this, right? It’s not like they’re leaving him on a lower tier, so to speak. So there’s going to be more of a focus for at least an episode or two more I hope. But what about the future? Do we have any idea if there’s going to continuing, you know, in the future you have another arc maybe? Will we find out more about Wu’s personal life and that kind of thing?
Reggie Lee: I think you’ll – you know, Wu’s not – he’s definitely – he’s a sharp guy. So I think that there’s a lot of real – as we go – now we’re what? We’re shooting episode 19. You’ve seen 14, but he’s a sharp guy and the writers are smart. So it’s like there are little hints here and there that are kind of funny that you’ll see. And yes, this effect on me lingers. It’ll linger for quite a bit. And it’ll probably linger through the rest of the season. But he’s a sharp guy, so there’s some real wonderful moments here and there as we go through the season that he’s like, “Hmmm. Hmmm. What are you doing here? Why are you spending so much time with this person? I have no idea why, but something – there’s something here.” So I just laugh at those moments in the script because I’m like, wow, it’s really – for you guys that follow the show on a very close basis it’s going to be a treat. It’s a treat to see these little moments that Wu has through the season. So yes there will be more things.
I have to ask, obviously not in this episode — and it was an interesting switch for us to watch as well as you were saying you to do — Wu did not get to be his typical sarcastic self that we usually see, but when it comes to those sarcastic moments, do you have any input in that? Do you have a sarcastic bone in your body?
Reggie Lee: You know, this is akin to, like, when I played bad guys that, you know. I never say they’re bad guys. They’re just doing their job. But it’s like people will meet me and go, “I just – let’s go out for coffee again” or “Let’s go talk again”, and it’s a different human being. It’s like, you know, it’s almost like (Claire) is the sweetest person in the world , you know, but you can allow those things on screen. And I think the further away you are from that particular thing, it’s like the more you can do it.For me, I had never, ever, Vicki, considered myself sarcastic. I think maybe my friends think I am. But I have never for myself considered myself sarcastic, and it was always something – these witty, sardonic moments that he has, I would always, like, wanted to be so witty and sarcastic. And this is my chance on this show — which is why I think I really enjoy – I enjoy, like, doing the work for it, and no, I’m telling you what, they write all that stuff. So those writers are really great at coming up with these one liners. They’re fantastic.Now Wu has – I’ve grown more comfortable — Wu has grown more comfortable — being this person. So I think it gets even better as we progress. It sits in my body more, but no, I don’t consider myself sarcastic. So in that sense, it’s much more fun once I get on set to be that person.
So in this episode obviously the woman who’s married, it seems like Wu had a crush on. But she’s married so that’s kind of not going to work. But I’m curious. Is there anything maybe coming up for Wu, like a romantic interest or anything like that? And would you want that for him?
Reggie Lee: Of course I want that for him. Of course. There’s always something that, you know, people always ask me kind of like what I’d love to do in the future, and that’s actually on my bucket list of things that I want to have in my career, is you know, something on screen like that — kind of a love interest in one way or another. I think that you may see it. I think again, we all have our lanes on the show. There’s a certain lane that we’re in and I think that the balance of — for me at least — as a – let’s say separate from the show, I think there needs to be a balance on the show of couples and people that are not coupled — like people that know and people that don’t know about (Nick).So how they keep that balance, I don’t know. You know, how they want to keep that balance, I don’t know. I know they’ve said, you know, we like that he’s, you know, a single guy. We like that. So there may be that, but it’s got to be – it’s inevitable, you know, for the future that something like that will happen. So we’re hoping for it, but they do like that balance. That’s so vague, the answer that I just gave you.But it’s something that I want. So depending on what – if they want to tip the scales they will. And they’re not afraid to They’re not afraid to. But I really enjoyed this episode that was so much of it, you know…was this back-story of having feelings for this girl and seeing if I still have them, if I didn’t have them, but I loved it so much. I loved experiencing that again within the show.
And then obviously, you know, you can’t say whether or not he is going to find out what’s going on or how that’s going to end. But can you just talk about if he does find out that there’s, you know, this secret world of Wesen, how do you think that that will affect him, change him, as a character?
Reggie Lee: I think that this – the way it’s affected him initially, that way that it’s affected me initially is because it’s something that I had heard of before. So it’s very different from anyone else’s reaction because I think it’s, you know, certainly things that hey hadn’t heard about before, but they’re seeing. This is – it’s so incredibly — in the Philippines — realistic. I mean, you know, it’s an island country so it’s very – people don’t have a lot to do so they get really, really entrenched in these stories and believe them.So in the outcome that it has on me, I think it’ll linger quite a bit before I start to kind of not want or want to figure it out for myself. But the effect of it being humongous for me. I think that’s going to have to subside before I decide one way or the other. And you’ll be surprised I think at which person in the cast sways me to one way or the other because it’s not one that you’d expect. And that’s to come.
So it sounds like everything is going to change with this royal baby coming up soon. I haven’t actually seen the episode. How is that going to change the landscape for everyone involved — for the entire sort of landscape of Grimm?
Reggie Lee: It’s going to be complete chaos.It is going to be complete – yes. I think you can expect complete chaos to ensue. So it’s been forthcoming this entire season. And people have been expecting it. So I think in episodes – and it’s interesting because it’s such a part of a world that I’m not privy to, but privy to only in that I read. I read them in my scripts. But the one – the things that I’ve read have really been fantastic in terms of the way this baby is used to sway emotion in so many different people. And it’ll hit probably almost every single cast member, this baby.
I mean the – Rosalee and Monroe romance has been sort of just so wonderful and lovely and then all of a sudden with the parents coming into town it sort of all fell to pieces. Have you been reading anything in your script any more about where that’s going to be going?
Reggie Lee: Well I think, you know, Brenna Kouf, they know that these wonderful things that they have planned for us, there is never an easy way, nor do they make it easy for us to get there. So that’s always the joy for them is making it as difficult as possible to get to the “alter” for the rest of us. So there’s – it’s not going to be easy, you know, for them to get there. And the parents I think are just – all that stuff is just going to be the beginning of everything. So it’s – and they’re fantastic.Boy, these guys are – they hit it out of the park. I mean (Silas) and (Bree). They’re fantastic. So I love that I get to see that. We’re all such – I feel for these guys. We’re all such wonderful friends that when we each get juicy storylines, you know, when I got this one they all texted me. I text them when it’s like, “Oh, my God, I love it. You’re getting to go through that.” But they were just – they couldn’t have been happier for me when they saw this entire script — which just shows you how close this cast is. We’re all – we all love it for each other, all these things we get to go through.The tougher the better. Bring it on.
So I wanted to know since this — since you actually suggested this monster to the writers — was it surreal for you to see this childhood monster realized?
Reggie Lee: Yes. Absolutely. I think that made it freakier because I’d grown up hearing about it. So when I actually saw the rendering of this creature it kind of freaked me out for a couple days in a really good way, you know. Because I had already worked on the back-story of this entire episode that when I got to – and I, for myself, I did not want to see a rendering until I actually got to the part where I see something. And it takes me a while to do my homework at home. And that’s kind of towards the end of the episode. So I didn’t want to see anything until that time so it was very close to when we started shooting the episode that I actually saw the creature. So it was really great — the affect it had on me — because it freaked me out.
I was going to ask actually, are there any scenes that freak you out? And I’m guessing this episode had it.
Reggie Lee: In general through the show. There was one. There was actually one episode. The freakiest thing that I’ve seen as – and you know, I’m not privy to the creatures. So my – at least Wu isn’t until now. So there was one scene — and I don’t know if you remember this storyline where people were actually – the creature would cut people in half. And so I would get to the crime scene and people would be cut in half. That was – because these make-up people are so unbelievably fantastic — it’s so real. If you pick up a hand of any of these, you know, people that are dead, it looks so real down to the hair and the veins.So that one really freaked me out when people were cut in half — which I think it par for the course. (Unintelligible) on that.
Are there any projects you’d like to share about? Like (unintelligible) back or anything else you’re going to be working on?
Reggie Lee: I think there’s definitely things in the pot for all of us coming up, you know, in this – which will hopefully be a hiatus — “hiatus” — before a hopeful season 4. So I – and those – I think things are kind of in the pot and we can’t really talk about them at this point because they’re still being talked about. But hopefully yes. I would love one. I would love one on our break.
I have two sites that cater to Filipino and Filipino-Americans. So they’re very excited about you.
Reggie Lee: Yay.My people.
Your peeps. I was going to ask you, have you had a chance to visit the Philippines, you know, since you started the show? And what kind of feedback do you get from not only people from the Philippines, but also Filipino-Americans? Because we don’t really have a lot of Filipino-American actors that, you know, are out there and, you know, you can see them on TV every week, let alone see an episode that, you know, has a lot to do with, you know, Filipino lore. So can you talk about a little bit about both of those things?
Reggie Lee: Yes. It has been – first of all it’s been a pleasure and a joy to represent the Filipino community in this particular aspect. I have gotten such great – I could go on and on about all this, (Angela). It is – my relatives that are still in the Philippines – actually I had my aunt and uncle have gone back I haven’t been back since the show started. But my aunt and uncle went back and they, you know, of course they all keep in touch and they were like, “You need to come here. You’re such a – Grimm is such a known entity and such a popular show here and, you know, people love you and we’re so proud of you. But, you know, you need to come back here because it’ll really give a boost to people here.”And it’s – I don’t – it kind of scares me and also kind of makes me really proud, and it’s time for me to hear that. Because you don’t ever think you’re affecting something so far away. But, you know, when you come from a small country — like the Philippines, granted it’s over 7,000 islands — when you come from a small country with a lot of islands it’s, you know, you don’t get this huge world aspect. So for you to be represented all the way in the United States — which has always been a dream for a lot of Filipino people — is really fantastic for that.So I would like to go back. And I think we’re working on that internally – hopefully international publicity to try to bring me back to the Philippines sometimes soon. Maybe this hiatus hopefully that’ll happen. I would love for it to happen.But regardless, I haven’t been back since I was 10 years old. So it’s been a long time. I would love – I asked my dad this the other day. I said, “Do you have a desire to go back?” He said, “Yes. I would love to go back, but it’s not a huge priority for me right now.” For me, I would love – there’s something about it now as I get older that I’d just love to touch that Filipino soil. I think I’d love to get more in touch with my heritage, you know. It’s just a kind of time where I want to know where I came from. I really want to know. So I want to go back and kind of feel that out.In terms of here, I’ve gotten so many wonderful Tweets from just the Asian community in general that have said, “Thank you for representing us so well on television.” You know, media – a medium that is so widely viewed — even probably more so than film.And I think kudos to the writers for this particular characters in particular that he’s someone that has no accent, that doesn’t really talk about his ethnicity, he’s a regular guy, he’s funny, he’s smart, he’s sarcastic, you know, he’s strong, and the fact that they asked me if I would give them some Filipino folklore was more kudos to them than I could ever give them. You know, it’s great that they’ve asked that.So I gave them these three stories. They picked this one and boy, Brenna Kouf — who wrote this particular script — she did – when I read this script I was blown away. And I’ve read a lot of scripts. I thought emotionally from the get go and even just in terms of Wu’s character and his journey — his emotional journey — she hit the nail on the head. So I had a lot to play with and that is because of what she wrote.I am – and I love that you write for, you know, two Filipino places because it’s just I’m more in tune with my culture now than I ever have been in my entire life. And I’m so – I feel so proud to represent them — here at least.
I just wanted to ask you: will there be some romance for the good sergeant any time soon?
Reggie Lee: I want you to talk to the writers about that. I mean, I’ve always said that they like to keep a balance on the show. And I think the further we get along in seasons and in episodes, the more they like to tip the scales one way or the other. You know, there are single people on this show that they like to keep single and then couples that they like to keep coupled. But I think it’s inevitable that there will be something for Wu one day. And I would love that. Actually I would love that.
How many more years, decades do you think this show – would you like to see it go?
Reggie Lee: Oh, boy. I think this show – listen, I think that there’s always kind of a certain season life to a show. Look at – well, there are shows like Law & Order that go on forever. I really think the show could go on for a long time. If you can get to season 13 of a show I think the show could go there. I really – it would just be up to the show runners to see if they would want it – there’s things like Lost, you know, that have a definite ending. You’ve got to end that show at some point. But with this show I think there’s so many more creatures in Portland, so many more.That I think it could go on forever.
So I think that everybody has touched bases along the lines of the show. So I was going to step back a little bit from the show and I wanted to know more about the benefits – I don’t really know how to pronounce it, but I’m going to just say Kusewera. Is that right ?
Reggie Lee: Yes. Yes. You know, it’s an organization — Kusewera is an organization — that basically allows people from the – well, people from all over the United States actually to go to orphanages and both in Africa and the Philippines now. They’ve extended it to the Philippines — which is really fantastic for me since I’m Filipino. It means a great deal to me in that respect. I’d really like to be more involved and I haven’t been.I have a good friend of mine who is really involved with it and they basically go to orphanages and involve these kids in creative play and activities. So they kind of enhance their experience and teach them to believe in themselves more so that they can use that and go out in the world and be useful.So I think it is probably one of the most amazing organizations that I’ve ever touched upon or seen at work. It’s great to kind of start to infiltrate myself into that. So it’s probably an organization that I’ll become more involved with in the future.
I was wondering, if you could play any other character on the show other than the sergeant who would you like to be?
Reggie Lee: Definitely Adalind. Definitely Adalind. No, I’m just kidding. No, I’m not kidding. It’s fun. I mean I love playing that aspect of any person, you know, because I really don’t ever think that there’s a bad, bad person. I love – here’s what I love about – and I think that that’s true. I think that I’d want to be Adalind. Let’s not kid about that.But I think that there’s a great deal to be said about the way the writers have really – there’s a gray area to everyone’s character on the show. There really is. You know, there is good and there’s bad. It’s really moral ambiguity which gives the show its life because you’re like that in real life. You know, you question am I being good? Am I being bad? What am I doing? What am I trying to do? I’m trying to be a good person. And I think everyone has that. But boy, I think Adalind has a lot of fun. I’d like to step into those shoes.Baby and all? That would be interesting. Then I’d feel more in tune with you women and really know the hardships that you go through when that happens.
I wanted to find out if maybe you could tell us what were perhaps some of the initial acting challenges you found stepping into the Sergeant Wu character? And then have you seen your character perhaps grow and develop since then would you say?
Reggie Lee: You know, I think the hardest part was there wasn’t a lot.I think that was the most difficult part because I think the more you’ve got on the page the more you can build. So when there wasn’t a lot it really – I needed them to give me some kind of spark. Even before I started to do any kind of homework on this particular character I needed them to give me, you know, where he’s come from, blah, blah, blah. Even that was very kind of, you know, there are three bullet points; he’s been a cop for this many years, blah, blah, blah, he’s good at his job, all this stuff.But where I really started to develop him was a line in the pilot where Nick just bumps into me — I still remember this — he bumps into me, like, because he’s staring at of course a creature that’s morphing. He bumps into me and I go, “Well, I guess I should have worn my airbags today.” And from then on I was like, this is a sarcastic dude. He’s sarcastic and sardonic.So I built from there. I actually researched sarcasm and I went, okay, psychologically where does that come from? And it comes from actually, you know, people that are the most sarcastic are – it comes from an insecurity. I don’t know if you knew that or not, but it comes from insecurity that people are.So I started to work on why am I insecure? You know, why do I do my job so well? Am I afraid? Am I wanting to be good because there’s that Asian factor that is like, you’ve got to be perfect at what you do. Perfect, perfect, perfect, whatever it is. You’ve got to be beyond perfect. So I started to work with that and it started to get more exciting.So as they built upon it — and I think this next episode that you guys are going to see or have seen, it’s coming up on March 7th — has given me the most, of course I think as you’ve seen background. But even the stuff where I went through eating couch cushions…gave me a lot of insight into, you know, who he is. Figuring out — like in second season — that I was really good at video games, seeing my apartment and what was in it, you know, gave me a lot of clues and I started – I get so excited. I can talk to you about this forever by the way. FYI. Because (unintelligible) it excites me. This is what is exciting to me about this.But from the get go, you know, there wasn’t a lot on the page so I really had to build. And I think it was – it almost became like a real collaboration that way because the way my performance would be from that build, then the writers would look at that performance and take from it and build even more. So, you know, he became just more comfortable with the sarcasm. They could write more one-liners, blah, blah, blah. They could see what kind of character he was becoming.And I think this — which was – which posed a difficulty for me in this particular episode that you see coming up, because there are so many colors of Wu that I hadn’t done – I hadn’t touched base on.You know, the vulnerability. The vulnerability, the being out of control as I’d mentioned before were really new – it’s new territory for me. For that to be so evident and for me to show it to other characters, I don’t show that. I don’t show my vulnerability nor do I show that I’m out of control. So for me to experience all that was like candy. And I love candy. So that was like candy when I saw this episode. It was great.
I hope I phrase it correctly. I wanted to find out what would you say makes a career in this industry rewarding for you so far?
Reggie Lee: You know, I think underneath the career is the actual art form. So for me it always has been because as you know, it ain’t easy, this one.This career choice ain’t easy. So we go through a lot of disappointments, a lot of no’s before you get a yes. And fortunately for me, I’ve been very fortunate in that I’ve worked consistently. And I’ve only focused on exactly what you’re saying, longevity. And I think what breeds longevity for any career is staying interested. And I think the only way to stay interested in what you’re doing is to dig deeper.So for anything, whether I’m describing a crime scene for the gazillionth time or whether I’m going through emotional things like I do in this particular episode, I work on it and get deeper. Even with a crime scene. I’ve been a cop for let’s say, you know, over 20 years if now 20 years. So I – there’s no way I can even do enough homework to hit that emotionally, to feel what it’s like to get to a crime scene, to see a body cut in half, to have to describe it…and to have to try to solve it. So for me I think that’s it, you know. To stay emotionally invested. I think a lot of — especially being on a series — it’s easy for you to kind of put yourself on automatic pilot. And it can be a crutch to do it that way because I think then you start – you stop becoming interested. And I always want to stay interested.So fortunately I’ve been around very healthy acting coaches and people that work and even our cast — a joy to work with because we’re all interested. You know, we all kind of are older and have been through careers at this particular point and hopefully there’s more.Fortunately I feel like as I get older the roles are getting more interesting, and specifically being minority — being Asian — I feel like they’re getting – they are more Asian-Americans that are working that are older than younger. So I love it. I love where I’m going and I hope to stay interested.
I was just thinking about in the first season when Wu, when he’s, you know, eating all the couch cushion and everything. Those are some of my favorite of your scenes. I was just curious. Can you talk a bit about kind of filming that? I mean did they give you, like, food that looked like objects or did you actually chew on things? Or I don’t know. I was just curious.
Reggie Lee: Why? I mean I actually – yes. I ate everything. No. Okay, here’s what it was. Here’s what it was. The quarters were corners were actually chocolate lined with, like, a silver food coloring. The chapstick, the inside of the chapstick was – you know what gummy bears are made of? That. So it was gummy bear. And then the outside casing was chocolate, and then the carpet was cotton candy infused with actually real carpet, and then the paper clip was an actual paper clip which I had to, like, take out and pretend like I was swallowing.But I’ll tell you a funny story. When I was doing the carpe thing they were putting, you know, they had this white shag carpet and then they would put the cotton candy pieces amidst it. But I was like, “Guys, I’m having an out of body experience. I’m not going to pick and choose which ones are cotton candy right now. I’m just going to go for it. I’m just going to eat and hope that what goes in my mouth is going to be cotton candy.” And, you know, the scene continues on because they find me and they bring me to the couch and all this kind of stuff. Because there was no – I had some pieces – I had rug. I had carpet in my mouth. The next day I was like, “What is that?” I actually had rug burn on the inside of my cheek from eating the carpet. I had rug burn. So you can write about that.
That’s dedication to your work there.
Reggie Lee: That is. There’s no other way than to go 150%. There’s no other way.
Special Thanks To NBC