Q&A with Memphis Beat’s Jason Lee

It’s June! Time for the summer season to begin.

Ok, well, we might have a few more weeks to go for some of our shows, like the new TNT series Memphis Beat, starring Jason Lee. Lee plays police detective Dwight Hendricks, who, when he’s not catching bad guys, sings blues and Elvis songs at a local night club.

I have to say, I was able to see an review copy of the premiere episode, and I enjoyed it. I’ve certainly never seen Lee, famous for My Name Is Earl, in a dramatic role like this. And for someone who consistently says she’s sick of procedurals, saying that I enjoyed it is a big thing.

The show premieres June 22 at 10/9c, but while you’re waiting, check out the Q&A below from a conference call with the leading man himself.


Just real quick, I’d like to know, what’s it like working without the mustache? – Starry Constellation Magazine

It’s quite nice to have a completely different look. Yes, it is.

And what made you want to be a part of this show?

Well, you know, the character was very appealing and the fact that it’s a very different and unique talk show and certainly that he performs Elvis songs at night.


In the pilot, we didn’t get to see a lot of side-by-side interaction with Dwight and Whitehead. Show like – in other cop shows like Law & Order detectives are rarely seen apart. Will we see more of that or will they work together and separately both each episode? – tvismypacifier.com

No. They’re connected. They’re joined at the hip for the rest of the series very well. Yeah, there’s a lot of interaction with those guys.


Thank you so much for speaking with us. Well I was wondering about the format of Memphis Beat. Is it going to be more like a procedural format where it’s a new case every week or will some of the case kind of take multiple episodes to resolve? – Daemons TV

Some might take multiple episodes, yeah. There’s still a lot to explore. You know, we’re only shooting nine episodes for the first season. But yeah, and it’s also very much about the characters and the relationships, as it is the cases. So we’re trying to make it as well rounded a show as we can.


Hi Jason. You’ve been doing mostly comic relief things like My Name is Earl and The Chipmunks and stuff. Is it nice to be able to do a more dramatic role again? – popentertainment.com

Yeah, it’s fantastic. It’s definitely something that I’ve never done, a role like this. And it’s a great opportunity for me. It’s nice to have a balance. And this is definitely providing that balance for me. I’m really pleased with the work so far.


How were you approached to star in this role? How did this role find you? – Starry Constellation Magazine

The writers Josh Harto and Liz Garcia, they came to me with a very beautiful, passionate letter, a very personal letter about what the project means to them and why they created it and that they would very much like me to come on board and play Dwight. And I was very flattered and that was, you know, coupled with the material itself, you know, it was something very important to me.


[Read more after the jump!]

I wondered if we would get to see Dwight with a love interest at all this season. – tvismypacifier.com

Yes. There are many, many things taking shape in that area, dealings with his ex-wife and we see what ends up happening with that. A lot of surprises, a lot of interesting angles. That’s a big part of Dwight’s life and of course the other woman in his life, his mother. We see some interesting things with that relationship as well.


Well, Memphis, the city also plays a really big role in the show. I know that I read that you guys were actually filming in New Orleans but Memphis recently had all that flooding. Is that something that’s going to be worked into the show? Or do you know if that will be like part of the story line? – popentertainment.com

I don’t think that will happen. You know, we’re shooting sort of part time in Memphis as well because, you know there’s just certain things that you’ve got to get and Memphis is such a great city, you know. So we want as much of real Memphis on the show as possible. So we’re going to be going up to Memphis and shooting up there.


Hi again. You know, you mentioned the singing and I was wondering if that’s something that’s going to happen every episode. Are we going to see him sing every episode? – Daemons TV

Yeah and in different ways. You might see him rehearsing. You might see him just playing guitar and singing at home. You might see him performing at the beginning of an episode or at the end. Yeah, so I mean it’s a big part of his life. And so we will see that side of him in every episode.


Okay. Well following up on the singing, you have done a lot of singing in the past as well in things like Earl and The Chipmunks and particularly in Almost Famous which I loved by the way. Is that something that you really enjoy? Is that something that you’d like to do more of? – popentertainment.com

Yeah. You know, I’m always up for it. I like playing guitar. You know, I love music and Almost Famous was an opportunity for me to play guitar as a character, and try and sing now with Memphis Beat and I get to play guitar on the show. That’s always nice when it’s you doing the singing yourself, as the character. So that’s been good for me.


Hi Jason. Besides guitar, what other instruments do you play in real life? And will you have the chance to play something besides guitar on the show? – TV Tango

No. I normally just play guitar and I just kind of fiddle around here and there with it. But, yeah, I’d like to be able to play it stronger but I just can’t do it. I wish I could but I’m a little limited musically…


Hey. So there’s been a lot of talk lately of the blurring of the lines between network television and cable and, you know, with (kind of) coming over and doing all this other kind of stuff and Southland. Now that you’ve kind of been in both areas, do you see that you can do more with this show because it’s on cable? Or do you think that there is no difference? – iF Magazine

Yeah, I don’t feel much of a difference. It’s tough too because – to say because these two shows are totally different. Earl – they’re just two completely different worlds. We actually had a good deal of freedom on Earl. And they were very kind and let us kind of do what we wanted. And TNT is also very, very supportive of us here creatively. So it’s really hard to say. But both have been great opportunities for me. They both feel like they are what they are and they are what they should be.

Do you feel that there is some boundary-pushing though with this show, with Memphis?

Yeah. I mean I think a lot of this stuff could be done elsewhere, you know. It’s not a show that really needs to be – to prove anything really or that needs to be raw or rough or tough or gritty. It’s a fairly gentle show that’s very character driven. So I don’t – think we’re at a good home and I think we’re just about where we should be.


I really think that Clark Johnson is a really terrific director as well as a good actor too. Had you dealt with him before? And what was he like to work on on the show? – popentertainment.com

No, I hadn’t worked with him before. He was very excitable and he pushed a lot for the pilot to be different and unique and with a great energy to it and depth. And, you know, the whole energy was – everybody was really, really excited and really wanted to make the best pilot that we could make. And he certainly pushed for that.


Don’t forget. Memphis Beat premieres Tuesday, June 22, on TNT. Check it out.

*images from TNT


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