Reggie Lee

Reggie Lee is an American actor who played William Kim on the show Prison Break and also appeared in two Pirates of the Caribbean films, as well as The Fast and the Furious. Reggie Lee’s latest acting roles include Byong in a movie directed by Ben Stiller called: Tropic Thunder which opened this summer and Stu Rubin in Sam Raimi’s Drag Me To Hell. In this interview Reggie Lee talks to Marta Walsh about some of the highlights of his acting career and his style secrets.

Can tell us a bit about your acting career so far?
Fast and Furious was great, and that started everything. I have this habit of playing the bad guys on screen and I love it because there are so many dimensions to characters that portray bad guys. I never really think of the as bad guys, everyone does what they have to do to survive in whatever instance they are in. Everyone does. So they are just caught I what society calls ‘bad guys’. I did The Fast and The Furious and everyone went oh my god I hate that guy. So they continue to cast me as that. But I love these characters because they is a bit of that in everyone, it is part of humanity. I feel I can bring a sense of humanity to these characters and give them a reason to why they are acting in that particular way. Weather is their background or circumstances, there so many things I can draw from that create these characters which essentially what I love about acting. So I started out with The Fast and The Furious and from then the ball started rolling to do independent films, and I did a television series called Luis and its character Luis Guzman. After that I was cast in the Pirates of the Caribbean. It was phenomena. It was one of these amazing experiences where you filming on a big ship in the middle of the Caribbean and you are pinching yourself wondering if you really there. The reason I like acting so much I’m an adult yet I get to play a child. Here I am in a big ship being a pirate in the middle of the Caribbean and I get to play pretend at the highest level. It was spectacular working with Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush and director Gore Verbinski , down to the makeup and custom people who gave you the essence of being someone else. Because you get to put on these customs and they made your face full of scars, shave my head they gave you all the proper tools you need to play pretend at the highest level. From there I did a series called Prison Break and played a character everyone hated. Usually people love to hate you but everyone was just hating me. I would walk into a Starbucks and they would go: “Oh. I hate you”! Or “Good show but I hate you”! It very difficult for people to distiuish your character from your real life persona. And then I did a movie because Ben Stiller and his wife Christine Taylor watched Prison Break. Ben Stiller casted me in a movie called Tropic Thunder which opens this summer. I finished shooting that last year in Hawaii. And now I just rapped a film for Sam Raimi called Drag Me To Hell who also directed all the Spiderman movies. I never worked with such an amazing collaborative and generous director. Sam Raimi made a work place that is very free and in that way you got to do your best work. The character in Drag Me To Hell, Stu Rubin, is one of my favorite characters to date I would have to say. What I love about it is that Stu Rubin is not specifically an Asian name it is a actually a Jewish name, and they never questioned it and never decided to change the name and they decided to cast an Asian male for this character. And now I am on a wonderful break. I feel blessed to have a little bit of time off because it gives you a room to breath and the room to get your motivation back and appreciate what you’ve done. This is when you find out what your heart wants. We forget, especially in Hollywood, that you have a freedom of choice and a lot of times Asian American actors forget that because we say what if there was no other job. We need to realize that work is part of our life and not our entire life.

Where do you draw the emotions to play these ‘bad guy’ characters?
We have such an infinite ability to imagine. Remember when you were a kid and you would look at the closet at night when it’s dark and imagine there is a monster, and if you imagine long enough you will really believe there is a monster there. And all these emotions of being frightened and scared would come up. In a very simple way I think is what acting is all about. So if I imagine as a bad guy who is desperate for money and the only way to get it is to get involved is to join a gang of people who steal money. That is the only way I would know to make money, and I would have to steal in order to eat. And suddenly I feel wow I got all this money and maybe I should get more so then I get greedy. So I would just imagine these situations for hours and hours. And that’s the hard work, because I never had to steal, but I can imagine what it would feel like. And in this imagination all these feelings and emotions that would come up with that. Sometimes I work for a month on a scene that is 5 minutes long. If for couple of weeks I imagine that I had to steal in order to eat, that scenario and feeling would become so real so when I got on set and it’s time to film that scene it would be so real to me so I don’t even have to think about it. Because in set you don’t have to think about it, you want to be able to just let your imagination run wild and to just have fun. Imagining to me is fun.

How would you describe your personal style?
It used to be classic trendy, I’m leaning more towards classic.

What inspires your style?
My dad has always inspired my style. I used to look at pictures of him from when he was younger and he always be in classic tailored suites…and I thought wow that’s really cool.

How do you go about picking an outfit for a red carpet event?
I have my publicist call around and give me choices…I’m a feeling person. Even if it is classic or trendy if I see and feel something from it then I tend to pick it. It’s not necessary what someone else would go wow about. It is something I feel like I want to be perceived as. Style is how you express you as an artist. For some reason I always loved clothes and dressing. When I was younger I would buy clothes that are trendy, and now I am very much into pieces that are of quality, simple and classic. I don’t mind buying an expensive piece knowing it looks amazing and it will last longer.

Did you ever have a fashion disaster?
When I came to LA I was dancing in music videos. I was actually dancing at the MTV Music Awards for Prince. The dancers in that early 90’s, the clothes we would wear to go to auditions, everyone tend to out-trend each other. And I remember me be in ripped jeans and combat boots, vest with no shirt, and little beads hanging on the vest, a necklace with a cross. I remember my picture taken in that outfit to go audition and I look back on it now and I go “O My”.

Who are some of your favorite designers?
I like to shop at Agnes B, Tom Ford. I love Ben Sherman stuff for a casual everyday wear. And, Hugo Boss.

Where is your favorite place to shop?
Agnes B and Nordstrom.

What is you signature cologne?
I don’t wear cologne. I used to. What I love most is smelling clean and fresh. I don’t seem to find that cologne, even the clean fresh colognes tend to smell too perfumey to me.

What would be your ultimate stylish car?
I love SUV’s like Porsche Cayenne. In terms of a sport car, I always as a kid I loved the 8 cylinder Jaguar.

What city do you love the most?
Florence, Italy.

What one or two things some people may not know about you?
That I’m spiritual and that I love to watch reality television shows. Reality shows take me away from the world.


Style Interviews would like to thank Reggie so much for taking the time to speak with us you can catch him currently appearing on the big screen in Tropic Thunder.