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Will Yun Lee: “I am as American as anyone else who grows up here”

Multifaceted Korean-American actor Will Yun Lee The Good Doctor and living multiple lives as Takeshi Kovacs on Netflix’s How are you coping with the coronavirus pandemic?

Well, this is actually my hiatus from The Good Doctor and I am really enjoying it. I have been traveling for the past four years, jumping on and off planes, so I was really looking forward to slowing down and spending some time with my family. But it’s hard finding something to do every minute of the day when you have to stay home. I would say it’s been a mixed bag of worry and blessing.

You’ve taken on many different roles over the course of your career. To what do you attribute your success?

It’s been 20 years in the making and a slow and steady grind. The biggest part of my being able to work was not giving up, and staying in the game, working on my craft and making the best of each role that I got to play. When I first started, there was a maximum of 4 or 5 roles a year for Asian-Americans. Jobs that could actually put money on the table where you didn’t have to have a side job.  We all competed for those 4 or 5 jobs. With the boom of television, we’ve seen a shift in our representation. We are slowly seeing more Asian-Americans on screen and they are finally portrayed in a more real way, as human characters.

You’ve been a part of It’s the hardest and most physically taxing project I’ve ever had to shoot. I remember episode 7 of the first season. It was a flashback origin story and it took almost a month to shoot. It felt like a feature film. We were working 16-hour days. When I got to go back to the second season and be a part of the present storyline, it was a lot of fun. It felt like family. I was excited to put on the armor and get back to fighting and the action aspect of the show.

You said The Good Doctor appeals in its ability to reflect on the world we live in today. What did you mean by that?

I applaud shows like The Good Doctor or normal’>The Good Doctor is a great example. It doesn’t matter what color you are, we treat everyone on the show as a human being.

When it comes to Dr. Park, how much of him do you see in yourself being a dad and a husband?

When I first signed on to the show, it was very fluid. They were trying to figure out who this character was. Now, the writers have known me for a few years and with that in mind, created a role that is probably the closest reflection of myself. 

The show was renewed for a fourth season and is supposed to premiere in late September. Do you think the pandemic will have an impact on the show?

We are all in the same boat. We don’t know. We are supposed to start shooting sometime in July in Vancouver. Hopefully, we’ll be able to but then there is the fear of flying and bringing it back and forth. Thankfully, we are on a medical show. We have tons of hand sanitizers on the set and many of our scenes are in masks.