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LAist Interview: Rex Lee from HBO's Entourage

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This Sunday marks the return of the HBO hit series, Entourage. Nominated for five Emmys, the show is a favorite among fans and critics alike. LAist was able to catch up with Rex Lee, who plays Lloyd, the trusty assistant of Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven) to find out what we can expect this season.

Did you ever expect this role to go as far as it has?
Well I was hopeful in the beginning but there were no guarantees. In the beginning there were four episodes that the Lloyd character would appear. Right away, I knew that there was something to sink my teeth into. I told myself I am going to go to work and work my best and do my best to keep myself around and defy them to not keep me around. Then at the end of Season Two, they gave me a bit of a challenge and I was able to rise to that challenge. I think I proved to them that the risk that they are taking on me was not misguided.

Are you referring to the second-to-last episode of the second season, when Ari gets fired?
Yes, that's the one.

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That was an incredible episode. Definitely my favorite in the show's run.
I love that episode.

Why do you think a show about Hollywood with stories that are somewhat insider has been such a success?
Probably two main reasons. The first is that I think people who think of themselves as outsider enjoy being on the inside. I think people in the business, people who live here and know people in the industry may get just one or two more jokes than others. The show is really about friendship and it happens to be set in Hollywood and within the entertainment industry. It's about being boys. It's about going through something and having the people you trust by your side to live through it with you.

The Wikipedia page for the show mentions that the Dom character is making a return, can you confirm that? If so, why?
Yes, I can confirm that. It's funny, I don't have strong opinion about that character, and I know why that character was created. But I go to the HBO message boards so I know that there is some hatred for that character. I read that script. It's a good script to me. Dom is here but he's not here for very long.

What can we expect out of Lloyd this season?
More of the same and yet different. I don't have more to do but don't have less to do. There are some subtle differences. Prior to this season, all of my scenes involve a lot of the same actors and it always took place in the office for the most part. This season I was able to work was with other actors and in other settings. I don't want to give away too much but I will say that there's a party somewhere.

Living in LA a city filled with assistants like Lloyd, has anyone ever approached with their own horror stories of being an assistant? Do you feel like you treat assistants differently?
Yes, assistants definitely come up to me and say one of two things: It's either "my parents didn't know what I did for a living. Now I say, you see Lloyd, that's me. That's what I do." I get a lot of that. Then there are those assistants usually tell me that Lloyd's life is more pleasant than their lives. They tell me stories so horrible that I must purge them from my mind. It's pretty well known that I was an assistant to a casting director, prior to my days on Entourage. I'd say living the life of an assistant more than playing an assistant, has impacted the way that I personally treat assistants.

Has there ever been any lines written for Ari that genuinely offended you?
I cant remember any. In the context of what we're doing, creating this piece of entertainment, I understand the reasons why Ari says what he says. I know why Ari is written this way. I am also mindful of the fact that he's an equal opportunity offender. He says things that are offensive to everyone, if that context didn't exist i might be more offended by the things he says.

How real is the "Gay Assistant Mafia"?
I'm not an assistant anymore so I don't know. I do know from living in this town, that there sort of is a sharing of information. Assistants are loyal to their bosses, and they will protect anyone that they need to protect. They don't necessarily want to protect those that they feel any sort of loyalty towards, so they will share information about those people when they have it. I guess the answer your question, yes.

Which cast member is closest to the character they play?
Probably Kevin Connolly or Adrian. Kevin sort of has that A-type personality. He is a leader. So when I watch the show, I just sort of see Eric's ambition and relate that to Kevin. Adrien is sort of idealistic, and i say that in the best way. He is very into the environment and has this optimism about him similar to Vinny's character.

I know for a lot of people who live here and watch the show, they like to check out some of the places where the guys go eat or hang out. Is it the same for someone working on the show? What are some of your favorite places to go to in LA?
It definitely happens. I had never been to Koi until the show. I had never been to Toast until the show. I love going to the Toast and had never been there before the show. I drove by it and thought I saw that place on the show I should go.

Speaking of which, why so many scenes at the Urth Cafe?
I don't think there is like an effort to say let's shoot this scene at Urth Cafe. There is something about that location that makes it relatively easy. I am just a guy on the show, so I don't know everything but I imagine that someone at Urth Cafe has made it easy for us to shoot there.

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In my profile on the staff page of LAist, it says I wanted to move out to Los Angeles because I wanted to live the lives that the guys on Entourage live. I am partially kidding, but I am sure that there are people throughout the country who think, I should move to LA and be like those guys. What do you say to those people?
My advice would be, don't move to LA and try to be in the entertainment industry unless you have a true passion for it. There is a lot of rejection in this industry. You have to be prepared for that. I have dreams just like everyone else. I act because I feel like I can't do anything but act. For me, I had to come here if I wanted to be an actor. If your dream is to be an actor, writer or director, I would go to the places where that happens, like New York or Los Angeles. But once you're here, keep studying, keep working at it. I am shocked at how many people I meet who have dreams of being in the business and don't have any skills. They just came here, that's all they did to get in the industry was move here. It might take a long time but if you want it be patient. I am sort of half kidding but really not but I always tell people that I would give myself to the age of 80 to make it in acting. Because I am Asian and I can get the role of the old Asian guy with all the wisdom. But really, I was willing to give it a long time to make it happen, it took me over 10 years before something really started. But I think it was worth it for me.

What's next for you?
Right now there is no next for me. It was a weird year with the writers strike. Now the fear of an actors strike (By the way, I don't think there's going to be one.) there have not been that many films in production. I think once everyone realizes it is going to happen, you'll see more things going into production though.

Do you have an entourage?
Not that I know of. I have very good friends but we don't live together. We don't spend every second together like the boys on the show do.

Photo by Claudette Barius/HBO