A Chat With James Kyson Lee

Although James Kyson Lee is best known for his role as Ando on the now defunct Heroes, he hasn’t been just idling around. Lee, 34, who moved to Los Angeles in 2001, has a cameo in Why Am I Doing This?, an indie film directed by Tom Huang about a struggling African American comedian and Asian American actor, as well as a role in the upcoming film How to Make Love to a Woman, a comedy about the shenanigans that come with dating. Lee talks to KoreAm about Hollywood, fighting sea creatures with guns, and a possible Heroes spin-off.

What do you think about the lack of diversity in Hollywood right now?
It’s a lot better than 10 years ago. Some of these challenges will always exist just because there are so many elements involved. It has to do with writers, producers and people at the executive level, and also demographics, and so it’s not just that they don’t want to cast Asians. Hollywood is a business.

What’s been your favorite role yet?
I did a sci-fi movie in Bulgaria called Star Runners. I got to run around and fight monsters and sea creatures with space guns.

You also sing. Would you want to take on a musical role?
Yeah. I’ve always thought it would funny if Heroes had a musical episode.

There’s been talk about a spin-off of Heroes…
NBC’s been speaking with [creator] Tim Kring, and I think they’re still in very early talks, so it’s hard to say what will happen. But Tim was really excited about the opportunity or the possibility of it, and wants the story to start one year after we last stopped at the end of season four [the final season].

What do you prefer, TV or movies?
I prefer films just because you have a beginning and an end. You’re able to experience a journey from one point to another. And most of the feature films that I’ve been on have taken me outside of [L.A]. TV’s an ongoing thing. So I’ve always seen TV as a day job and feature films as a chance to get away.
—Elizabeth Eun