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April  2002

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What's up with your long hair? Is it for an upcoming role?

I don't know if there has to be a reason...? I read on Meloni's site, someone said something like, 'growing it long on the bottom doesn't make up for what's going on on top', and, you know, that was... I've had long hair before. See Wayne's World. I'm a hippie! I'm a metalhead.

Did you always want to be an actor? If not, what were your other aspirations?
-- skylauren

Yes. I was at my 15-year high school reunion, a year and a half, two years ago, and I went back there, and this guy who had seen Wayne’s World, but didn’t know it was me – he was like, oh, man! He remembered sitting in second grade when the teacher asked us what we wanted to be when we grew up, and I said I wanted to be an actor. Even before second grade, dancing at age 4 for my parents and their friends in the living room... they turned on a blacklight and I would be dancing spasmodically... I knew then, I am meant to be watched! I am WATCHABLE!

No other aspirations. My grandmother asked me once, “What are you going to fall back on?” and I said, “Grandma, if I have something to fall back on, chances are 99.9% that I’m going to fall back on it.”

Who are the actors who have influenced you and why?
-- skylauren

I’d have to say, Saturday Night Fever, that movie had a big impact on me. John Travolta was awesome in that movie, he gives such a great performance. Gary Oldman, Daniel Day Lewis…anybody who does what they do well, all those guys you watch and go, there’s just something about them. James Dean. "Groundhog Day” was another one. Bill Murray.

In your interview with Metal Rules, you said you don’t want to play the All American boy. What attracts you to the roles you choose?

Well, that’s not exactly what I said. When I was a young actor, in my early 20’s, the agents were sending me out for these All-American, “sweet” guys, and I just didn’t think I had any great ideas on how to do that. The things I was going to connect to were NOT that. I’m edgy!

What is the greatest compliment that you have recieved with respect to your acting?
-- Kelly

I don’t know…people have said a lot of awfully nice things, it’s hard to pick one. At the end of the day, it moves me that people will approach me, without knowing what I'm going to do -- ‘cause there are a lot of assholes out there. So when they are moved to come up to me, when seeing me sort of causes that, that compliments me. Any time I cause that kind of reaction, emotionally... And I’m glad they care about what I’m doing, because I care about what I’m doing.

Is there a project out there that you would classify as a "dream job" for you?
-- Kelly


And last but not least...What kind of motorcycle do you have, and have you ever crashed? (question courtesy of my husband who races motorcycles and has crashed multiple times!)
-- Kelly

A Honda Shadow. And, you know, I haven’t always kept it on the wheels… A large percentage of the time, I’ve kept it on the wheels!

 Thank you so much for agreeing to be involved on a personal level like this with your fans!
-- Kelly

You’re welcome.

Everyone who watches the show can find something of himself in the character of Beecher. Not just because he’s supposed to be an “everyman,” but because there are so many human facets to him – his addictions, his self-hatred, his guilt. In what ways do you personally identify with him? In what ways are you not like him at all?
-- rikki

I think that whatever people relate to in Beecher, those things are common. What I do with that part is, we all know what it’s like to be oppressed, to be angry -- so you know, he comes through me. I’ve definitely felt guilt, self-loathing – those are all common things. How am I unlike him? I’ve never been a lawyer. I’ve never had kids. I’ve never had kids who died. I've never been in jail for more than a twelve hour period of time...

 You were hysterical as Chett on Weird Science, totally over the top! Was it as much fun as it seems?
-- ariana

That was a great, great job. It was a blast. And a great bunch of people to work with.

Which is harder, comedy like WS or drama like Oz? Which do you prefer?
-- melindy

It’s two different things. Something like Weird Science, that stuff is an easier way to go for me, as a person. Buffoonery is easy for me. I might say that Oz was more difficult... but you know, on Weird Science I had to do this thing where I was an abominable snowman, and I had to be in this fur suit all day. And something like that is hard!  I’d rather kiss Chris Meloni.

As Terry in Wayne’s World, you gave pop culture the immortal “I love you man!” line. As Beecher, you’ve racked up a whole list of television firsts. How do you feel about being an acting pioneer?
--- john d.

I don’t know if I am. I don’t know what gives a person the authority to say who is a pioneer of something. I’d need to see some credentials!

The metamorphosis of Tobias Beecher has been amazing to watch. Your performance throughout the transformation has been brilliant, so much so that fans coming into Oz now are often stunned to realize the same actor has played Toby all along. We all have our interpretations of his motivations and actions, but how would you, in your own words, describe the changes Beecher has gone through? Where would you say the character is now, in terms of his ongoing development?
-- gail

Initially, what has been evolving for him is his sense of survival. When he first came in, he thought submitting to Schillinger was how to survive. When that wasn’t “surviving”, he thought he’d be better off dead. Then after all his violence, biting Robson’s penis off, and then of course his wife dying – he has tried to figure out what is true for him. He’s searching for truth. Which is why he can… not really question his sexuality, but be open to falling in love with Keller. He’s constantly looking to forgive himself, and forgive others. He’s making mistakes, and he keeps trying to correct them.

 Do you get to make plot or dialogue suggestions for Beecher and his relationship with Keller? if so, have any of your suggestions made the final cuts?
-- loranova

I talk to Tom around the beginning of each season, before we start, and he goes over his ideas for the character. If I have anything to add, it’s usually very minor, and he usually says no.  [laughs]  I have definitely contributed to the character, but I trust Tom, I feel he knows what’s going on. What I do is what I do with it. I made a suggestion about having two poles and strippers in Em City, but each year he says no. Hey, you wanna be the Sopranos? Huh? Come on!

I don't know how closely you follow Meloni's site, but that guy has talked some major shit about you. If an unassuming fan were to take him seriously, one would think you are his little bitch-toy, bound in leather straps in a secret room of that swank loft and ever-eager to act out his twisted S&M fantasies. Here's your chance to tell your side of the story. What's REALLY going on, Lee? thank you!
-- loranova

That sounds like my side of the story already.

I was wondering what it was like working with Agnieszka Holland in Shot in the Heart. I thought the entire piece was outstanding, and I was curious if working with an international director was different than those here in the States. Thanks for sharing your great talent with us!
-- Emily

I’d say a good director is a good director, wherever they’re from. And Agnieszka was really great. I had a really good time working with her. She’s very smart.

 Does it surprise you that so many of your female fans get off watching you kiss another man?
-- kenya

No. Chris and I got together before the first time we kissed, and definitely with something like this there’s a tendency to shy away from it, to skirt it. But what we decided was to really be there, make it sexy – well, not really make it sexy, but we always really treat each other tenderly. So you know, we’re present when we’re in those scenes. Whatever mental contortions we have to do, we’re present in the scene. There was the one scene, after Chris got shot and he came back wearing a bandage and I’m pulling the bandage off and kissing his chest, you know? And when I’m acting, all this stuff is running through my head: the dialogue, and I’m watching what’s happening in front of me and I’m reacting to it, and there’s history running through your brain, all these images flowing… and that scene, it was so interesting where my head went. I felt sort of feminine. Like it was a man and a woman in that scene. And that, those are feelings that I'm not unfamiliar with.  I don’t go, “Fuck, I gotta kiss a guy!” But doing that, being present in it, kissing another man – it screws with your head a little bit.

Um, having never done this before I guess I should preface this by saying thank you for taking the time to answer our questions. And more importantly, thank you for creating one of the most compelling television characters, EVER. It certainly has been my pleasure to watch the amazing metamorphosis of Tobias Beecher. Ok now that being said, on to the question that leaves me awake at night... Where the hell is Harry? <Harry, being Beecher's only twice mentioned and never seen third child. You know, in case you didn't know who I was talking about. :-)> Thanks again.
-- mav

I’m glad you asked, but I can’t answer that.  You’ll see.  As far as I know, he’s fine and living with his in-laws.

What hobbies do you have outside of acting?
-- Shauna

I like to water-ski. I have a motorcycle that I enjoy riding. My wife... A lot of people have a trophy wife, I have a hobby wife. You know, a hobby is a thing you wish you had more time with!  Hmmm.  I like to ROCK!

If it is a beautiful Saturday morning and you have the whole day free, what are you going to spend the day doing?
-- Shauna

Go to Connecticut.

 Okay, we’ve compiled an actual list, and at least 25 actors who have appeared on Oz have made guest appearances on Law & Order SVU. Why haven’t you shown up, and what must we do to make this happen?
-- michele

I don’t think there’s anything you can do… They’re terrified of me! They can’t handle the ME!

Lee, I actually have a question for Leslie that I was hoping you might ask her for me. In the Metal Rules! interview (which was fantastic, by the way), you said that Leslie attended your first wedding. And I am wondering, was she tempted to yell out when they asked if anyone objected to this union? Did she think, "That's my husband you're marrying?'' I'm just dying of curiosity. Thanks
-- Anne

She said no, but she knew it wasn’t going to work. But the thing is, she doesn’t speak up! She predicted it wouldn’t last more than two years. Which was kind of, you know..."hey!" And she was right. And she caught the bouquet, that’s the weird thing. And my dad caught the garter. So that was pretty trippy, when we both look back now. And we do.

Has fame changed you?
-- orion24

Hmmm. Yes and no. I don’t think fame changes you, I think it makes you more of whatever you were to begin with.


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