[Exclusive] James Chen talks about future Blindspot storyline and much more: "Let's keep all this enthusiasm going"
While he is becoming a familiar face with the audience, Meaww caught up with 'Iron Fist' star James Chen to get the inside scoop.
'Iron Fist,' based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name, is series created for Netflix by Scott Buck. Set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, sharing its continuity with films of the same franchise it is the fourth in a series of shows that has lead to 'The Defenders' crossover miniseries. And with just two seasons over, it was recently announced that the show is canceled by Netflix. This is the first show of Netflix's Marvel Defenders that faced the axe.
The first season of the starry lineup included Finn Jones as Danny Rand Jessica Henwick, Tom Pelphrey, Jessica Stroup, and Sacha Dhawan with Ramón Rodríguez, Rosario Dawson and David Wenham joining them in the first season. Simone Missick and Alice Eve joined the cast for the second season. However, there was one particular actor who was missed in plain sight throughout season 2. James Chen who played the role of Samuel Chung, known as the vigilante superhero Blindspot, might be among the important comic book characters in recent history. He is also known for his recurring role as ‘Kal’ in the hit AMC series 'The Walking Dead,' which is set to return for its season 8 on October 7, 2018.
James who was trained as an actor at the prestigious Yale School of Drama and after graduation led the School of Acting in commencement ceremonies and was awarded the Dexter Wood Luke Memorial Prize. After completing Yale, he resumed his professional career in New York City, where he started working in Off-Broadway theater, TV, film, commercials, and audiobooks.
While he is becoming a familiar face with the audience, Meaww caught up with 'Iron Fist' actor to get the inside scoop. Chen spilled the beans about the plotline for his character in the future, his possible role in 'Daredevil' and his new role in CBS drama series 'FBI.' Read the exclusive below.
'Iron Fist' fans have been quite appreciative of your portrayal of Samuel Chung aka Blindspot - did you anticipate such a response? What was your expectation from the character?
I wasn't entirely prepared for the public fan response to Sam Chung or their excitement for Blindspot. When I auditioned it was under a fake character name, Jackson I think, for privacy reasons. And even when I started to film my first couple of episodes, all I knew was that my character's name was Sam. It wasn't until our showrunner, Raven, clued me into the full name of Sam Chung. I'm just really glad that everyone is voicing their enthusiasm for such an important Asian-American character to see the light... it's a great conversation to have and shows their support for Asian-American heroes.
There has been some criticism in the past over Asian-American representation in 'Iron Fist' and many believe Sam Chung's character was a missed opportunity. Do you agree? What more could have been done?
I think the creatives did successfully put some thought and consideration into bringing in several actual Chinese characters to play amidst these adventures in Chinatown. I think that's been an encouraging first step, and I think the fans' voicing of thoughts like these can only help the continued improvement in Asian-American portrayals.
What is the plan for the Blindspot storyline in the future? Will the alter ego get on full vigilante mode and crossover into other Marvel shows?
Crystal ball says... 'Do not know.' But I will say that I would obviously be really pumped for that and I've been staying ready for it by continuing my mixed martial arts training. Please keep having these kinds of conversations and expressing these thoughts - I feel they can only help the cause.
What about 'Daredevil' season 3? Blindspot has often been linked to the character in the comics - does this mean your character might make an MCU connect in 'Daredevil'?
I think these kinds of possibilities are all still open as well as open to listening to what the fans want. So please let's keep all this Blindspot enthusiasm going -- and also keep in the conversation what his development and appearance would mean and represent to the Asian community overall! We need more Asian-American leads, heroes, and representation. Period!
There are so many lingering questions about Sam Chung's ending in 'Iron Fist' season 2, was it planned that way on purpose? Will we ever get to see Sam's vast comic book history explored in the series?
I really do have faith in the fans' ability and power to influence things like this insofar as the creatives care how what they make is received by those watching it. They want to make something wonderful and satisfying to their viewers and, yes, I agree Sam's backstory is incredibly topical and interesting and exciting and could only be a positive for the series. As always...let's keep amplifying these conversations! I'm with you 100%.
Let's switch gears - please tell us about your character in the CBS drama series 'FBI’.
I play Ian who is a computer and electronics genius. He could be cruising around Silicon Valley in his latest Tesla crushing it in the tech startup world, but what I love about him is that he has an edge, a super dry wit and cutting sarcasm that belies a hunger for a deeper challenge. I think what excites Ian is the game of outsmarting a criminal...catching someone who is trying to skirt the system and pull a fast one by the government. He works as a unit with all the other experts and agents involved in a case to solve it as efficiently as possible. Providing them with emergency evidence recovery, data analysis, surveillance, writing software and algorithms, you name it...anything tailor-made to adjust to what's needed.
What was it like getting into the mind and skin of Ian Lentz? Please walk us through the audition.
The audition material was quite technical, involving the simultaneous analysis and physical manipulation of microscopic cell phone parts. I used to be a bio-chem major in undergrad so technical jargon has always come a bit more naturally to me, and this was perfect for Ian because he knows these systems like the back of his hand. The audition was cool because I got to play with not only my fun relationship with Agents Bell, Zidane, and Valentine, but do it while I was supposedly looking through a microscope, and checking out magnifications on monitors, as well as basically performing the equivalent of delicate microchip surgery. It was a really fun, really well-written scene!
What's next in your list? Any more TV shows/films?
You guys have got to check out this great character I play on 'Madam Secretary' next month. He's a billionaire and he gets to play with race cars. I wore extremely expensive clothes... and took a lot of pictures of myself haha. Will post on the social, so please stand by for that. Next spring I'll also be appearing opposite Tracy Morgan in 'The Last O.G.' as well as on the last season of 'Broad City' with Ilana Glazer -- two really fun experiences with just exceptional comedic writers and improvisers I feel blessed to have worked with. Finally, there's an independent film, 'Fluidity,' written and directed by veteran NYC indie film director and producer, Linda Yellen. It's the intersecting stories of 10 millennial as they navigate the fast-paced tangle of modern relationships, sexuality, technology and where they all intersect. Please keep a lookout on my social for updates!