When you're eighty and sitting on the porch of the Old Folks' Home, what's the
one memory from your time on Jeremiah that you'll tell your fellow octogenarians over
and over again?
Byron Lawson (photo ©2002 MGM)
That it was a BLAST to work on this show. The entire Jeremiah family (crew, staff, cast,
etc.) is just so tight. Luke and Malcolm are a joy to work with. We are all always joking and
laughing at work.
Vital stats: Age, birthplace, education, notable previous roles?
I was born and raised in Vancouver, Canada. So it's a real treat to be able to work out of
home. The Corruptor was an incredible project, because I got the opportunity to work with my
childhood hero Chow Yun Fat.
Lee Chen is easily Jeremiah's most controversial character. Is he
*really* loyal to Markus? Is he a Valhalla Sector operative? Is he both at once? Is his
ultimate goal like Ezekiel's - to protect Jeremiah by keeping him away from the truth? Do you
enjoy knowing that you torture your audience completely like this?
I'm being tortured just as much as the audience, because I really have no idea where Lee is
going. Sometimes I truly think he is loyal to Markus, then I get the script and "BAM" it goes
the other way. The way Joe [Straczynski] writes things, his story arcs go all over the place
in such a way to keep everyone guessing at all times, but IT ALL makes complete sense. I love
torturing the audience!
What's your favorite thing about Lee? What are the special challenges you face
in portraying Lee that haven't cropped up in other roles? How different are you and Lee - and
how much the same? Tell us about him.
My favorite thing about Lee is that he is such an asshole, which is awesome to play. Lee is a
very complex character. Sometimes I have no clue what the fuck he is doing. Yet when we play he
just seems to come out and I go "wow what a dick," then he does something honorable and I think
"cool!" I just play him like he's written and stuff starts to happen. Lee and I are very
different. He is this stiff anal dude, and I'm sorta laid back.
What are your hidden talents - can you do any "stupid human tricks?"
I grew up playing Ice Hockey since I was 7 years old. Went to school on a hockey scholarship.
Also went to Sweden and Finland to play for while. I have many Stupid and Gross human tricks,
which I'm sure we all do.
How were you cast on Jeremiah? What was the audition process like? What
was the first thing you did when you found out you got this part?
I had to Audition just like everyone else. It first started maybe around a year prior to us
shooting the pilot. I had to put something on tape for this project called "Jeremiah", which I
didn't know much about. In fact the original audition was for the role of David (now Markus
Alexander). After we did this, we never heard anything else and heard the project was on hold,
so I forgot about it.
Byron Lawson played Lee Chen in Firewall (photo ©2002 MGM)
Then maybe 5 months passed, and I auditioned for the role of "Kurdy", never heard anything
again. Another few months go by and I find out Luke and Malcolm are on the project. I get
brought back again for "Lee Takashima" and I guess it went well, cause I had to go back a
couple more times. Finally I found out that I got the role. I FREAKED THAT DAY!
The day I went in for wardrobe Joe asked if I was Chinese or Japanese, so I told him I was
Chinese. He asked how I felt about changing the character name to match my background. I felt
very honored that he did this, cause it really meant a lot to me. Many times in this game
people view yellow as yellow. I really appreciated Joe's offer to change the character for this
reason. In fact "Lee Chen" is my Grand Uncle's name who fought in the war for a very elite team
during WWII. So as you can see it really meant a tremendous amount to me. Thank you, Joe!
Did you know before you were hired for the show how loyal sci-fi fans have a
reputation for being? How do you feel about knowing that you now have fans following your
career because of your work on Jeremiah?
I had no idea what the sci-fi world was like. It's freakin' awesome! There is no limit. It's
crazy. I just hope everyone realizes Lee is Lee and I'm not! But I'm having a kick ass time
What was the most outrageous thing you had to do on the set while on the job
Trying not to laugh when we were shooting a scene in "Tripwire" at Thunder Mountain. We were
all in the scene and it was getting really late in the day. So we had to get the shot in. We
all got the crazy giggles and just could not stop. Yet I had to be the serious guy and could
not keep a straight face!
How did you come to choose acting as a career? Was it a gradual process, or did
you just fall into it? Was there a moment, a person, or a feeling that you had that affected
your decision - and have you ever regretted it?
I have a very good friend in the film industry, and in many ways I always wanted to try acting.
So he hooked me up with an agency, which got me my first audition. I booked it and ever since
then I've been in love with Acting. So I guess I did sort of fall into it. I have never
regretted choosing this as my career.
In many ways I always wondered why the hell would I choose a crazy job like this. John Turturro
once said that the closest to heaven anyone can reach, would be to have a job you are in love
with. I guess this would be it. I get excited every day I go to work, wondering what it's going
to be like. It's a high you can't explain!
We've noticed that many Canadian actors involved with Jeremiah have
"made the rounds," so to speak, of shows like "Da Vinci's Inquest" and "Stargate SG-1." Have
you gotten to know any of your co-workers on Jeremiah through other shows? How
competitive is the job market up there when it comes to these kinds of shows?
Byron Lawson played Amos Lee in the Canadian series "These Arms of Mine" (photo ©2001
Salter Street Films)
I've never worked with any of the actors from Jeremiah, but I have crossed paths with
many of them here, because there is a very small acting community here. So I have gotten to
know many of them outside of Jeremiah. It is a very competitive market up here.
You have to realize we are also competing with everyone south of the border as well. Every
larger role up here is usually being cast throughout North America. Everyone seems to have
this mis-conception that it all goes to the Canadians. NOT TRUE! We have to earn every job
just like everyone else.
One of the things we consistently hear from the actors on Babylon 5 is that they
were allowed by the writing and the production team to really dig into the script and play
around with their characters as much as humanly possible. Is this true on
Absolutely, Joe is very open to everyone's thoughts. He has an open door policy with all his
actors. That's why it's GREAT working with Joe!
How does working for a show meant for a no-boundaries, no-ads network like
Showtime differ from a show created for a cable or broadcast network, where there are distinct
barriers to what you can do storywise?
One word "Awesome." It helps you to really get to know your character as opposed to just
knowing your lines. You can have a lot more fun and at the same time make your character more
interesting. It's much more "FREEING".
We've heard that some scenes are done twice - one for the uncensored Showtime
version, and one for the version eventually intended for syndication. Are there distinct
differences? We can't imagine the show without Jeremiah's often colorful temper tantrums. Have
you, personally, been involved with any of these rewrites?
The only difference would be the profanity would be omitted and that's it. The energy and feel
would definitely still be there.
You're at a restaurant that serves Italian, Greek, and Chinese. What dish would
you be most inclined to order, what would you be wearing, and who would you be with?
I'd order whatever I felt like that day. I love all kinds of food. I'd probably be with many of
my friends [and a lot of them] have nothing to do the film industry.
Let's say it's ten years from now. Where are you and what are you doing?
Byron Lawson plays Amos Lee in the Canadian series "These Arms of Mine" (photo ©2001
Salter Street Films)
Relaxing on some beach in BRAZIL with family and friends just chillin' with a Mojito in hand
and waiting for the sun to rise.
If you had a choice of doing any production, anywhere, under any director, in
any role - what would it be?
Wow! That's a tough one, there are -so- many directors I'd love to work with. I would have to
say if I were only given ONE choice, that would be to play some dirty, gritty, over the edge
freak, shooting somewhere in Europe (Spain would be a pleasant location). The director would
be Mr. David Fincher!
Do you have a dream? What is it?
Only one and that is live life loving every choice I've made.
What is your greatest achievement?
Staying focused on doing what I really enjoy doing. Staying on bus!
What do you do on a typical Saturday night? A typical Tuesday night? How did
you celebrate your last birthday?
I do what anyone else would do from partying, watch a movie, hang with family and friends. And
of course, watch "Jeremiah"!!
Has JMS said anything about where your character is going - and if so, how much
can you tell us?
I have no idea where my character is going, and that is what seems to work best. We never find
out till we get the scripts.
Is there anything else you'd like to say to our readers? Anything you'd
Thanks to all you for watching the show, because we are all having a blast making it!