Image credit: Bryan Geli
We recently had the opportunity to have a chat with actor Reggie Lee about his recent work on All Rise on CBS. Here’s what he had to say about it and other projects.

When did you decide that storytelling was something you wanted to do?

Reggie Lee: Hmmmm. Pretty early on. Maybe when I was about 7 or 8? I remember seeing a movie on tv and saying that THAT was what I wanted to do.  A wonderful surprise happened later down the road when, the actor that starred in that movie, Timothy Bottoms, actually co-starred with me in an independent film I did. Great to be able to tell him that his work inspired me to do what I do. Also, he’s a wonderful human.

What’s it like playing Thomas Choi in All Rise?

Reggie Lee: Seeing as there aren’t many Asian American characters on screen in upper level management positions, it’s really an honor.  It’s a chance to be able to show us in a different light with a mix of authority and humanity. And it’s time. The writers and producers have given me some wonderful moments this season to be able to experience and put that out there. He balances a lot of decision-making with a combination of the law and humanity. Along with that comes the brave storylines this show conquers weekly that involve very current social issues that include racism. It’s been a joy to dig in with the stories that these
wonderful writers have crafted.

Is the preparation and mindset for a role on TV different compared to prepping for a film?

Reggie Lee: Oh for sure. I think the initial preparation of a character may be similar in both since there’s a good amount of time (hopefully haha)before the beginning of production for a pilot or a film. Most of my really intensive work on the character happens then. And for a film, you have a beginning, middle, and end so you can really see the trajectory and the life of the character within a specific time period. In TV, it’s very different in that you don’t necessarily know what the story has in store for you.  So, you build as each episode comes out and the layers of a character start to become more and more complex. That’s the fun part.  However, there’s not as much preparation that can happen when you get a script a few days before the beginning of an episode shoot. So, hopefully, by that time you have a good sense of the character.

What was it like working on GRIMM?
Were there some learning experiences on that show that you were able to take to other projects
such as All Rise?

Reggie Lee: GRIMM was such a ride from start to finish. It was like the little show that could.  We had no idea how it would be received, but we knew we had something pretty special.  It was a family from start to finish. I’ve made some of my best lifetime friends on that show and we continue to all be a very tight-knit family.  Plus, Portland! What an amazing gem of a city to film in and to call home for 6 years. The local crew also became part of our family and we continue to stay in close touch with them as well.

I think All Rise has the same familial aspect. The cast members on this show are some of the most talented, caring humans I’ve ever had the pleasure of being around. Certainly, the day to day of being on a series for 6 years has prepared me quite well for this journey on All Rise. It’s also nice to be literally 5 minutes from house to set! It’s a little easier than a 2-hour flight. Even when I shot in Portland and had a place there, I still flew home to LA quite a bit. Wonderfully enough though, my neighbors here in LA moved to Portland! So, it’s really nice to get up there and pay a visit to a city that will always have my heart!

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