Nobody Doesn’t Like Rex Lee
Published September 9, 2011
REX LEE ON ENTOURAGE. FILM STILL COURTESY OF HBO
If you’re a longtime devotee to Vincent Chase’s disarming smile, Ari Gold’s razor-sharp wit, and Eric Murphy’s wet blanket-ness, chances are you’ve heard the gloomy news—come Sunday, September 11, HBO’s Entourage will take its final curtain call after eight successful seasons. Many of the actors have already readied their next move–Kevin Dillon, who played show favorite Johnny Drama, will star alongside Dave Foley and David Hornsby in the new CBS comedy How To Be A Gentleman, and Jeremy Piven, who graced Entourage as the endlessly engaging Ari Gold, has already been spotted on the silver screen in last month’s Spy Kids 4.
Another Entourage player with a plan B is Rex Lee, who you likely know as the ever-so-likable Lloyd, Ari Gold’s loyal, often squeamish right hand. Art has imitated life for Lee—the Ohio native was once a casting assistant before landing a TV role most actors would kill for. Lee’s next role finds him in far more rural circumstances as Mr. Wolf, a seemingly dense high-school guidance counselor on NBC’s Suburgatory. The show, which follows a father and daughter’s move from the big city to a Stepford-esque suburb, puts Lee in good company—Cheryl Hines, Jeremy Sisto and Jay Mohr will all appear in recurring episodes. Interview spoke to Rex about the new project, Entourage memories, and how it all began.
ALEX CHAPMAN: Hey, Rex. How are you?
REX LEE: Hey, great. How are you?
CHAPMAN: I’m good. Congratulations on everything that is going on, the ending and the beginning.
LEE: Exactly.CHAPMAN: Let’s go back in time: What did you first think when you heard about the Lloyd character on Entourage?
LEE: When I heard about this role and read the description, I thought, “How is this not me?” So I submitted myself, and I was lucky enough to get an audition. I guess what I’m leaving out is that I’d been doing about five and a half years of research for this role without knowing it, because I was making my living that way. So I went in and it felt good, and I thought I could get the job, and then I got a callback.
CHAPMAN: What made you confident that the audition went well?
LEE: Doug Ellin and Larry Charles were just giggling the whole time I was auditioning—they thought I was funny, and that felt good. I like to think that if I hadn’t gotten the job, that would still be a good memory, but it really helps that I got the job.
CHAPMAN: Makes a better story. How do you think Lloyd’s developed over the seasons? A lot’s changed.
LEE: I’ve sort of been fascinated by how some of the changes that you see sort of mirror my life, and the way my relationships with people change over time. I feel like in the beginning, Lloyd was really polite to Ari—even in the face of what he was given, he was very polite and he took it. As time went on, he got more comfortable and decided that he can talk back a little, maybe even be a little bit appreciated. That is a lot like how I interact with people: I’m very polite when I first get to know them, but the more I get to know them, and the more comfortable I am with them, the more willing I am to be a little bit less polite and not worry. I love the fact that Lloyd’s changed over the years.
CHAPMAN: And as you mentioned, the changes of dynamic between him and Ari are there, and those changes seem to be rather important to the quality of the storylines and to Entourage as a whole. While filming, did you feel the weight of that relationship, given so many fans love Ari and Lloyd together?
LEE: It’s only been a month or two since we stopped shooting, and it might take a little more time to have more perspective, but I will say that at this point I have a new appreciation of the relationship between these two characters that I probably didn’t have a month or two ago. I just love that it’s so complex and layered—I love that one of these guys really is a “boss” to the other guy, and that creates a certain dynamic. But I love that there’s love and respect between these two people, I love that one is straight and one is gay, I love that they are men of two different races, men of different heights and temperaments. I do definitely think that the relationship is very real and grounded in reality. I actually don’t think that Jeremy and I did anything extreme in order to keep it real or present, we just went to work and did the best acting job we could, and I think the work speaks for itself. My working relationship with Jeremy was so fruitful—it’s probably a no-brainer that the writers would focus on us.
CHAPMAN: Do you think people will be satisfied with how Lloyd ends up when it’s over?
LEE: I’m definitely happy with where it ended, and I think it is nice, general way of tying it up. In terms of who Lloyd is and what he wants from life, I think he gets the perfect Hollywood ending at the end of the show.
CHAPMAN: I’m happy he ends up happy.
LEE: I hope other people think that too—that’s the way I’m looking at it.
CHAPMAN: It’s good that you’re looking at it that way. What will do you think you will miss most about the show in terms of just making it? Or what have you been missing since you haven’t been shooting for a while?
LEE: I think that LA and maybe more specifically the concept of Hollywood—I think it’s hard to maintain these personal relationships in this town. Saying that there are a lot of special people connected to Entourage without listing them—you know, maybe the obvious thing is I should call them, I should try and contact them. But it’s hard in this town. Everyone is onto their next job, or they’re looking for their next job. There’s a certain level of wealth protection involved in this town, and all you have to look out for is number one. The short answer: the people.
CHAPMAN:. Have you heard anything about the film? As far as I understand, it will exist at some point. But I guess you would know better than I.
LEE: The truth is, I don’t actually know better than you. The last thing I heard was people sort of bravely saying, “This is still happening.” But that’s as much as I know. I’m very hopeful. I think it will happen.
CHAPMAN: What made you feel that Suburgatory was the next step after Entourage?
LEE: I just know that, at the beginning of pilot season, I was reading scripts that had been sent to me, and I thought, “None of this feels right.” I felt strange about the characters, or the writing as a whole—I read some bad scripts this year. But then I was sent this script, it was far and away the best pilot script I’d read this year—at least out of all the ones I’d read. Miles and miles beyond everything I’d read. It was just so smart and funny, and I’d be stupid not to be part of it. It was that good. I guess for me I just responded to the writing so vehemently—I felt this is something I’m destined to make.
CHAPMAN: Well, you’re definitely selling me the show.
LEE: If I have any worry about the show, it’s that my sense of humor isn’t like everyone else’s. But I thought it was funny.
THE FINAL EPISODE OF ENTOURAGE AIRS THIS SUNDAY AT 10:30 PM. SUBURGATORY PREMIERES WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 28 ON ABC.