Jason Lee (Memphis Beat)

Jason Lee: The Interview (Memphis Beat)

Memphis Beat centers on Dwight Hendricks (Jason Lee), a quirky Memphis police detective with an intimate connection to the city, a passion for blues music and a close relationship with his mother. He is "the keeper of Memphis," a Southern gentleman who is protective of his fellow citizens, reverential of the city's history and deeply rooted in its blues music scene.

We talk with Lee about the show...

SHAKEFIRE:  Just real quick, I’d like to know, what’s it like working without the mustache?
JASON LEE:  It’s quite nice to have a completely different look. Yes, it is.

SF:  And what made you want to be a part of this show?
JL:  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.

SF:  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?
JL:  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.

SF:  You’ve been doing mostly comic relief things like My Name is Earl and The Chipmunks. Is it nice to be able to do a more dramatic role again?
JL:  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.

SF:  How were you approached to star in this role? How did this role find you?
JL:  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.

SF:  Memphis, the city 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?
JL:  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.

SF:  You have done a lot of singing in the past 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?
JL:  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.

Peter Oberth
Interview by Peter Oberth
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