[Warning: General spoilers ahead.]
Set your Swatches for your weekend binge, because The Lake drops this Friday on Prime Video, and it’s a wickedly funny romp and the cure for what ails you, with a liberal dollop of snark for good measure. Just in time for Father’s Day, it’s dad-centric, too, with two wildly different father figures.
First, there’s Justin (Jordan Gavaris), a kid at heart who’s reconnecting with teenage daughter, Billie (Madison Shamoun), who he gave up for adoption when he was also a teenager, and then there’s Victor (Terry Chen), the husband of Justin’s step-sister, Maisy-May (Julia Stiles). Victor is former NHL player who’s an evolved, doting father to two very different sons–sensitive teenage jock Killian (Jared Scott) and the exceedingly self-aware ten-year-old Opal (Declan Whaley), who identifies his pronouns as “icon.” I spoke with Chen this week about the character, the series, and embracing opportunities for representation.
While Chen readily admits Victor was a fantastic opportunity, and he auditioned for it, he immediately panicked when it was offered to him. “I turned the role down. I was like, ‘This is not my wheelhouse. It’s a half-hour comedy. I love the character, but I’m just a chicken,’” he laughs.
“So I was terrified of the role but they liked what I had sent in [and they offered me the role]. I slept on it and the next morning I was like, ‘No, I want it.’ And we called back and thankfully they hadn’t [cast another actor]. I’m terrified of comedy. So much of it is timing. It’s much harder than anything dramatic or action-based. I love comedy, but it was very daunting and thankfully they let me have the role.”
“It was [series creator] Julian [Doucet] and the writers from the get go. The material was so good [as well as] the ensemble cast. It felt really good as soon as we did the table read and all those fears get dispelled once you realize everybody feels that same nervousness.”
“It’s just working through that, giving trust to the material, which is first and foremost, always. I’m very grateful I was able to have that experience [in] something that is, I think, really funny. With so much happening [in the world], we use these mediums as escape and I hope it’s a reprieve a little bit. It’s very light about this quite insular group that everybody relate to in this subculture set in this pristine backdrop.”
“As an ethnic minority, these kinds of characters don’t come along very often. I certainly haven’t read an Asian-Canadian character like this before which most people would’ve jumped at. He’s a very well-rounded character for this [half-hour comedy] format and for this genre. There’s definitely some character flaws, but he’s a very endearing character.”
“And I found him along the way with the writers, as much as you take it off the page. The writers just came up with such a really interesting character and there was so much opportunity given. As an actor, when you have such a great foundation, when you have such great material and you’re working with such great collaborators, it’s an absolute pleasure.”
Victor’s relationship with Opal is refreshingly non-judgmental, and in some respects, Victor is the student and Opal is the teacher. Chen loved the dynamic, and getting to see that character onscreen. “Declan is the show-stealer. From his entrance on, he’s such a character off camera, too. Not to say he’s anything like Opal, because he plays this fantastic character as my son. But it speaks to the material and the themes that Julian and the writers wanted to set down without beating you over the head with it,” he says.
“The character development always goes back to that. They’re not just these archetypes and ideas. They’re very well-rounded characters and I think Opal, as a character, is someone that audiences want to see, and we haven’t seen a character like that written in such a way. I think all the characters are quite endearing in their faults and in their foibles. It’s what makes the show work and relatable. It’ll be interesting to see how it’s received.”
Chen also appreciates that the show is Canada playing Canada. “With AMAZE producing it, they’re a Canadian production company and we’re filming and it’s set in cottage country in Canada. It’s not like we’re set somewhere else. And it’s shot beautifully, too,” he explains. “I’m excited for people to get a chance to see it.”
Viewers also saw Chen recurring on The CW’s culturally appropriate reboot of Kung Fu, and he loved the experience, and the larger push for diversity across the TV and film landscape. “I’ve been very fortunate as this tattooed Asian guy, to play a diversity of roles. Thankfully they have tattoo cover in our industry, but Victor was definitely a groundbreaking role for me. I hope that there will come a time where it’s just part of the game, but I think it also speaks to the moment that we’re in and Prime Video really supporting this the way that they have,” he shares.
“I think it also speaks to a little bit of a paradigm shift in terms of representation and in terms of what we’re seeing onscreen. It’s very important for me. I will seek out more roles [that are] more well rounded. I want to be like James Hong. I don’t ever want to retire.”
“The guy’s 93 and he’s still working. He’s an inspiration. I’m very fortunate, any actor is very fortunate, to do what we do in the industry. It’s a passion and I do believe that if you find something you love to do, you won’t work a day in your life.”
“[Kung Fu] It was a fantastic experience solely based on Bob Berens and Christina Kim and their leadership, bringing me in the storyline that they wanted to create with my character and Eddie Lou’s character as well. The actors are all supremely talented. The cast and crew, everything from the top down was an absolute pleasure.”
“Any representation on any level from the CW to Prime Video to feature films across the board, there are such genuine people who care for their work. And that’s an environment that everybody wants to work in, obviously. I’m so grateful and fortunate to kind of fall into these situations.”
“I’m also riding this wave of acknowledgement and a bit of awareness, as slow as it comes for Asian representation, especially in such a conflicted time and against such controversy and not-so-nice-things happening.”
“That being said, it’s our duty as artists, if we have that opportunity, which is presenting itself more and more these days, to tell our stories and speak about our experiences authentically, as Canadians, really.”
Chen is also happy to be aging into the opportunity to play a dad. “I have kids, so I’m shifting into these dad roles. In Kung Fu, I played a dad, too [and] I’m so grateful to be able to transition into an older phase and to be playing these different roles. I think it’s important for me and my kids, watching in the future,” he says.
Representation was a part of two sci-fi series that featured Chen and still have staunch fan bases–Continuum and The Expanse. “I have a special place in my heart for Continuum, obviously because of the people involved. Simon Barry was such a great collaborator, and that was such a great experience because I got to shoot that in Vancouver, where I’m from,” he points out.
“There was a plethora of incredibly talented cast and crew involved with that who have branched off and done some incredible things. So just nothing but fond memories.”
“I [was] quite unaware of the fandom coming into The Expanse. I didn’t really know much about the show until I read for the part. And then doing a bit of a dive into the world, knowing that Prax was written quite different from what I appear to be. But I didn’t lean on that. I just brought my own interpretation of it and I think the fans liked it. So I was happy to be received.”
“The Screaming Firehawks are an amazing fan base. They literally got the show picked back up by flying banners overhead. They are forever in my heart.”
“I love sci-fi because you can suspend your disbelief. Growing up, Star Trek and Star Wars were my favorite. As I got older, they’re still there. I’m so thrilled every time I hear feedback from people who’ve seen these shows because they’re obviously greater than who I am. But what interests me is the characters and the material, no matter what genre, and sci-fi has such a rabid fan base because it’s such an awesome genre.”
Photos and courtesy of Prime Video.
This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.
Maahra Hill Talks The Irrational
I’m a Jesse L. Martin stan back to the OG Mothership Law & Order (pour one out for Lennie Brisco, y’all), although I admittedly tapped out on The Flash at a certain point. This season, Martin has been back in his old NBC stomping grounds with The Irrational, a different,…
George R. Olson, Tim Rozon, and Sarah Levy Talk the SurrealEstate S2 Finale
[Spoilers for the SurrealEstate Season 2 finale.] How’s everyone doing after the finale? As we close out the second season of SurrealEstate, some of our merry band of misfits are scattering to the winds–Zooey to law school, Phil to the Vatican, and Augie back to his think tank with Rochelle,…
Previewing SurrealEstate Season 2 Finale + Revisiting the Season with George R. Olson
[Warning; General spoilers ahead.] Strap in, SurrealEstate fam, because we’ve arrived at the Season 2 finale, and it’s a doozy. As we saw in the closing moments of last week’s episode, Susan is back. But because we have one more episode left, it’s not as simple as all that, as…
Tyler Hynes Talks Through His Eight-Film Hallmark Holiday Library
Things you realize when you have to re-record your shows on a new DVR – just how many Hallmark movies your people have done. Fan favorite – and one of ours – Tyler Hynes has done eight Christmas movies for Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries since 2018. Alongside…
Spencer Creaghan Talks About Creating SurrealEstate’s Signature Sound
SurrealEstate is winding down its second season, with two episodes left, and just as in Season 1, Spencer Creaghan’s music continues to be a character unto itself. And every week, he shares tidbits with the fans via his s social media channels, something he started to help give them an…
Andrew Walker Talks Christmas Island and the Magical Hallmark Community
[Warning: Spoilers for Christmas Island.] Now that the Screen Actors Guild strike has been resolved, we’re able to resume regularly scheduled programming and interview our favorites and yours. Up first, earlier today, I spoke with Andrew Walker about Christmas Island, which premiered last weekend and encores tonight and through the…
George Olson and Danishka Esterhazy Talk SurrealEstate “I Put a Spell on You”
[Warning: Spoilers for the episode.] Tonight’s fun new SurrealEstate found Luke caught up in an especially bewitching woman, Kay, played by Tara Yelland, Susan trapped in her house, and Zooey learning the ropes. In the next part of my conversation with showrunner George R. Olson and producing director Danishka Esterhazy,…
Danishka Esterhazy Talks SurrealEstate: “The Butler Didn’t”
[Warning: General spoilers for the episode]. Tonight’s new SurrealEstate, “The Butler Didn’t,” follows the team as they investigate the years-earlier mysterious death of a woman whose ghost now reenacts her hanging by dropping over the banister from the second floor to terrify anyone on the landing or at the bottom…
Scott McCord and Elizabeth Saunders Talk the From Season 2 finale
[Warning: Spoilers for the season finale.] How’s everyone doing after that finale? While we wait and wonder and hope for a third season announcement, soon, here’s what Scott McCord and Elizabeth Saunders had to say about their parts of the finale, and where they hope they get to go next….
Scott McCord and Elizabeth Saunders Talk From Season 2 + A Season Finale Preview
[Warning: General spoilers ahead.] It all comes down this, #FROMily. As Sunday’s episode wraps up Season 2, we begin with the aftermath of the terrifying onset of seemingly simultaneous attacks on Julie, Marielle, and Randall, which accelerate the “We gotta get out of this place” of it all. Sara comes…
What They Said: Three Revealing Conversations from Survivor’s Remorse “Closure”
WARNING: Spoilers for Survivor’s Remorse “Closure” The latest episode of Starz’s Survivor’s Remorse featured conversations that showed characters really digging deep into their thoughts, emotions and motivations.
Two Takes: The Catch “The Knock-Off”
Who can you trust? If this episode of The Catch was any indication, the answer is just about nobody. Betrayal was running rampant as Felicity (Shivani Ghai) arose from the dead to seduce-con Margot, Gretchen (Maria Thayer, Gotham, The Mindy Project) played gold-hearted Alice 2.0 before swindling Ethan, Tessa jumped…
What They Said: Top 3 Quotable Moments from Preacher “El Valero”
Both Quincannon and Jesse refuse to give up on what they each think is rightfully theirs. While Jesse is struggling to face the consequences of his actions, Quincannon has laid his past demons to rest and is hellbent on moving forward and putting Annville on the map again. Despite a…
What They Said: Favorite Quotes from Supergirl “Worlds Finest”
Oh, Supergirl. That ending was cold. But I can’t hate on you because the latest episode has quickly become one of my favorites.
What They Said: Top 4 Quotable Moments from Black Sails “XXIII”
The dialogue in “XXIII” is phenomenal. It’s always a fun ride when Black Sails carries its viewers along without giving them the chance to catch their breath. When an episode moves at this unforgiving pace, there is no chance for a breather nor is there a respite from the information…
What Lucifer Said: Favorite quotes from Supernatural “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”
Supernatural episodes are almost always funny but thanks to the dialogue and a certain man speaking said dialogue, I laughed a lot during “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” You know, when I wasn’t busy fearing for Sam’s life or wondering what in the world was going on with Dean and…
What They Said: The Flash, “Legends Of Today” and Arrow, “Legends Of Yesterday”
Two nights of Arrow +Â The Flash = what more could we ask for?! I don’t know what it is about blending these shows, but I canâ€™t help but feel that every time they come together, they somehow become greater than the sum of their parts. And thatâ€™s saying a lot…
What they Said: Top 4 Quotable Moments from Graceland “Little Bo Bleep”
Shoot outs. Fake outs. And long-awaited revelations. “Little Bo Bleep” was a jam-packed episode that wrapped up some loose ends and totally frayed others. Â It finally gave us one Sarkissian in jail and pulled back the curtain on Briggs’ master plan, but it also set up Jakes for a world…
What They Said: Favorite Quotes from Poldark “Part 4”
â€œWhat have I told you, I don’t require my wife to crochet and sip tea, but I do require her to remember she’s not a beast of burden.â€ No, Iâ€™m not talking about The Rolling Stones! I have to admit though, just for a second, the lyrics popped into my…
3 Moments of Goodness from Brooklyn Nine-Nine “Johnny and Dora”
The most satisfying part of this season’s finale has to the Jake and Amy kiss. Well, they kiss three times but the last one is the best one — and it means something. The Charles and Rosa dynamic was also great. I love how she’s convinced he doesn’t know anything…