Reasons for Pride: Everyone Loves Rex Lee
BY Sunnivie Brydum
April 17 2013 7:00 AM ET
Rex Lee sashayed into our hearts as the Lloyd Lee, the long-suffering guy Friday to power publicist Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven) on HBO’s Entourage. But these days, Lee has traded his designer shades and skinny lattes for the provincial charm of the fictional town of Chatswin, N.Y., in ABC’s sleeper hit Suburgatory, which airs a special hour-long season finale tonight at 8 p.m. Eastern.
The out Korean-American actor once again portrays a gay man, as Mr. Wolfe, the guidance counselor who often seeks counsel from the show’s teenage protagonist, Tessa (Jane Levy). While Mr. Wolfe was originally intended to be a minor character, fans responded so well that show creator Emily Kapnek wove Wolfe’s storyline into the show’s broader narrative.
In this exclusive interview, Lee reveals what the rest of the season holds for Mr. Wolfe, what would happen if Lloyd and Mr. Wolfe ever met, and what it takes to keep your sanity and sense of self afloat in Hollywood.
The Advocate: Mr. Wolfe has been featured prominently in a couple recent episodes — including when Chef Alan cheated on Mr. Wolfe! Do you think there’s any chance that we’ll see some resolution there?
Rex Lee: Well, it’s interesting. I’m going to go ahead and say that there’s not a lot of resolution. There will be an episode where the story moves along a little further, but then after that — I don’t know why it was done this way — but it doesn’t really resolve before the end of the season.
It’s funny, the actor that plays Chef Alan [Evan Arnold], my boyfriend, I’ve actually known him a really long time. I've known him longer than anybody else I work with on Suburgatory. So we occasionally email back and forth and he's like, "Have you heard anything? Are we getting back together?" I'm like, "I'm really sorry, I don't know anything!"
Mr. Wolfe was integral in helping Tessa assimilate to Chatswin, and by the same token, Tessa inspired Mr. Wolfe to come out.
I love that about their relationship. And that’s not an accident. I think from the beginning, Emily [Kapnek], my boss, talked about this. I don’t think I’ve ever had a job where I’ve thought so much about the backstory of the character before the show ever started. We had a lot of conversations about the idea that he was this guidance counselor that was sort of, not frustrated, exactly, but sort of ineffectual. His heart was in the right place and he wanted to be a good guidance counselor to those kids, and they basically have ignored him and so it’s been — well, let’s just say he’s been ineffectual, because they haven’t been listening. Then all of a sudden, this girl moves to town, and she does listen to him and she does talk to him, and he blossoms. And I love that. It definitely is a two-way street. They help each other.
Absolutely. Do you think Mr. Wolfe would be able to serve as a guidance counselor in a real-life high school?
[Laughs] I think he’d have a great deal of difficulty.
Because of that unorthodox relationship with students, or because he’s out, or any combination of those things?
I was just mainly thinking that he’s this very specific character who has his own sensibility. And I think that in the real world, he would have a great deal of difficulty relating to actual kids.