Ask Lee main page
I'm a big fan of your
work and I want to thank you for taking the time to answer
fan questions. I'll dive straight in to mine.
I recently watched the Season 1 DVD of Oz with your
commentary over the first two episodes. I seem to remember
some other guy on there too, but I can't be sure. Your
commentary was insightful and often very funny (especially
over the pilot episode). My questions, which I've always
wondered when listening to DVD commentaries:
Was it awkward at
all to speak over the episode? And, in general, how does the
What they do is they
sit you in like a control room, kind of like when people
record an album, but it's more like a looping stage, which
is something weíre sort of used to. Thereís a little table,
and there was a couple of microphones, and weíre watching a
big-screen TV. In this case, Tom and I hadnít seen the
episode... I mean, he probably hadnít seen it for even
longer than I hadnít seen it, and I definitely hadnít seen
it for a couple of years. So, no, it wasnít awkward to talk
over it. I think we were listening to it on headphones, far
as I remember; we had it on headphones so that we would be
able to hear it and then we would be able to talk and hear
ourselves. Anyway, itís something we were pretty familiar
with, so to look at it, and to talk over it -- you know,
people go to the movies and talk over the movies, right?
Itís the same sort of thing, except they asked us to do it.
So no one was shushing us.
What they did was,
we actually just watched the first one twice, and we talked
over it both times. The first time we just sort of did what
was on the first episode. Tom got called Ė Iím sorry, Iím
going to sidetrack for a second Ė Tom got called to do it,
and.. the first DVD I bought when I got my DVD player was
"The Wall", and that has this great commentary by Roger
Waters and the guy who did the animation near the end of it.
And at some points they were talking about how they come up
with certain things and where it was from, and at other
points they were really irreverent, it was funny. And so I
was like, this makes it much more entertaining than just two
people sitting there going, ďOh, beautiful shot. Oh, yes.Ē
So when Tom told me they had asked him to do it, I was like,
"Dude, you have to have me come with you! Itíd be great for
us to sit there," -- because he and I have such a good
banter thing, you know? A good relationship. So he was like,
"Yeah, thatís a great idea."
So they played it
the first time and we did that, and then the second time
they played it again, and the guy who was sort of producing
it was asking us questions, and thatís why... the second
episode, it gets a little drier. Although the weird thing
is, we were watching the first episode (both times). But it
fits; you canít really tell, because weíre not speaking as
specifically as we were the first time.
And I have to say
that Iím sort of responsible for the fact that we have a DVD
at all! There was all this complication because of the
production companies, because we werenít... like, The
Sopranos is HBO Studios, and the first few years we werenít.
We were Rysher Entertainment, and then there was another
company that overtook it, that was under the
Paramount/Viacom umbrella. Anyway, so one day Iím in my
video store, and I turn as Iím waiting for the guy to ring
me up, and I see the box set of The Sopranos and Sex in the
City, and Iím like, ďI want a DVD!Ē So I go over to Tom and
ask him, why is it that we donít have a DVD? And he actually
called HBO a few days later, like "What is going on?" They
had talked it about a few times, but it never happened. And
so it turned out that they had called Rysher, who had now
sold the show to HBO, and when they called Rysher about the
old seasons for the DVD, no one called them back so they
just let it drop. So when Tom called, they called back, and
they were able to hammer out a deal, and now we have DVDís
coming out every year. So, youíre welcome. [laughs]
Also, do you
expect to do more commentaries with new DVD releases?
I really donít know whatís going to happen with that. I
think that one of the things there will be more of is scenes
that were left out, and stuff like that.
My next question
is totally unrelated. Do you just get sick to death of
answering questions about Chris Meloni? I read all the
questions that come in about your relationship with him and
the relationship between Beecher and Keller and I think that
you have to get tired of it. Sometimes I do and I don't even
have to answer them. (If the answer's yes, I hope it helps
to know that he has to answer just as many questions about
you on his web-site).
You know, I think
this person should worry more about what's going on with
them. [laughing] I love Chris Meloni, and Iíll
talk about him as much as anybody wants me to!
Thanks for the concern, actually, is what I should say, I
Again, thank you for your time. You're my favorite actor
on Oz and I loved you in Weird Science. I'm hoping to see
you in a lot of different projects after Oz is wrapped.
me if you heard this before? So, when are you going to star
in the Jack Lemmon biopic? :)
casting it? Iíve been told I look like Jack Lemmon.
did the GLAAD Media event in DC go?
Giovanni... my dear Giovanni. It went great. Sorry that it
took me so long to get to these questions! You know, it was
a lot of fun, interesting to go down there for the day,
everybody was really very supportive and I was really happy
I did it.
Looking forward to the grand finale next Season. Keep up the
good work. All good things to you.
For the past five years, I have been dissecting the show
ďOzĒ in sickening detail. To the point where my family and
friends all hate me. Now that Oz is ending, and since you
have been so very generous with your answers, Iím jumping on
the chance to ask you about your own thoughts and
interpretations of the show.
Boy, Beecher sure has changed over the years! There have
been several Internet polls asking fans to choose their
favorite Beecher incarnation. Iíd love to know yours...? (If
you need examples, Iíve included some below. Or feel free to
use your own.)
Wussy, praggy, ďPlease sir, may I fuck my wife?Ē Beecher
B) Rhyming, dick-biting, face-shitting ďSeig heil, baby!Ē
C) Nail-filing, hack-slicing, Andy-seducing, Keller-shanking
D) Pod-praying, wound-kissing, wishing-on-a-star ďI wanna be
E) ďSelf-hate will do in a pinchĒ slutty Beecher
F) Almost-but-not-quite enlightened, ďHow is love wrong?Ē
God, theyíre all so good! [laughs] Itís funny, this
kind of question, because I donít really think of it as
different incarnations. You know, Beecher is Beecher to me.
Whatever his reality was at any moment is just what his
reality was. I mean, I feel inside the same way I did when I
was in high school, you know? Which was a looooong time
ago.... So, you know what Iím saying? I mean, if I had to
choose from those incarnations, I would say my favorite
is... I donít know, itís a tough one. Itíd be between
"Self-hatredíll do in a pinch slut Beecher," and the
nail-filing Beecher. I really donít see it as being
different things, so itĎs hard for me to really say.
after all that work of dissecting, I canít answer the
question! But, good work! And keep dissecting! See,
dissecting is more your job, not mine.
My all-time favorite moment is from Season 2: Beecher is
alone in his pod just after his first kiss from Keller, and
he finally breaks down and drinks the alcohol. So there he
is, whimpering, rhyming, kissing the glass -- you were so
great. I get chills every time I see it! Can you indulge me
a bit and tell me about filming that scene? Was it difficult
to do? Did you get it one take? How did you feel about it,
the first time you saw it afterwards?
funny because actually, I donít know why, but I just
recently saw that one. I have to say that was one of those
scenes, and thereís been a lot of scenes like this in this
show, where you sort of throw yourself off into the unknown.
Itís not the kind of thing Ė not that we rehearse anything
that much, but you know, things like that, or when I found
out my son was dead, theyíre exciting scenes to do because
you just donít know exactly where itís going to go, and
whatís going to happen. So I have to say that I like those
scenes a lot.
remember if kissing the mirror was in the script or not, but
it just felt so... you know, he was just so sad. And
what I love about that show is that I was able to go and dig
around in those places that are in all of us. And a lot of
times, people in their day to day life, we all carry sadness
and loss, but a lot of people donít allow themselves to
experience it, to go to those depths of sorrow and stuff
like that. And you know, itís cathartic in some way. Doing
them is always full of a lot of images, a lot of different
things, a lot of thoughts go through my head rather quickly,
and so -- itís exciting. That's what I said and I stick by
Would you believe there are fans out there who believe that
Beecher was NOT the one who shanked Keller in the storage
room? What would you say to those crazy people?
have to say Ė Never convicted! [laughs] Look, you
know what? There is no answer to that question. Itís
completely subjective. Itís up to the person who watches it
to decide what they think. I mean, I know when I talk about
it to Keller I scare the shit out of him. But was that just
a coincidence, that I knew he was stacking paper? And then
also that I would say, ďboom, boom?Ē Honestly, I donít
know. Thatís a question you have to ask Tom. And I donít
think he even knows. It was very dark in that fucking
room. The Warren Commission thinks there was a second
stab-man. And they never think thereís a second one!
The magic knife!
In the scene where Beecher is getting ready to go to his
son's funeral, he asks Chris if he has ever felt this way
about another man, and Chris says no. In your opinion, why
doesnít Toby believe him? To me, itís always seemed that
thereís a certain degree of ambivalence in Beecherís
feelings for Keller, like he wishes he didnít love him. But
thatís me. How would you, personally, describe Tobyís
feelings for Chris?
Well...hmm. Itís ever changing. He loves him. But does he
trust him? Iím not sure. Especially back then... I mean, I
think after that season, after Keller confesses to hiring
somebody to kill Hank, the feeling of trust deepens. I think
he wants to believe, you know? But he knows what heís
dealing with, thatís the thing. He loves Keller, but he
knows that Keller doesnít fully understand that, how much
Beecher loves him and that he loves him unconditionally. And
he knows that Keller thinks that sometimes he still has to
work him, when he really doesnít.
In ďFamous Last Words,Ē as Toby prepares to leave Oz, he
claims: ďPrisoner 97B412 is dead. Iím putting all that shit
behind me.Ē The fans I talk to tend to have very strong
feelings about that particular line; some think Toby was
finally showing a healthy dose of optimism and faith in
himself, while others felt that he was deep in denial about
how Oz had changed him and how he would have to come to
terms with it. What do you think?
both wrong. It was a fucking dream. Prisoner 97B412 was
In Season Five, you had this incredible scene where Beecher
was talking to his mother about the death of Adam. Mrs.
Beecher tells Toby how she felt glad that Adamís family
would know how she felt, and then she practically collapses
from guilt. Beecher just sits there and gapes at her, his
own guilt and tortured emotions in plain view. That was such
an amazing moment, so perfectly done. I donít really have a
question about this, I just wanted to thank you and tell you
how wonderful you were.
in answer to your question... Beecher in that scene
has this moment where he realizes something about himself...
so much that came to him through his parents, and especially
his mother. Thatís a huge moment for him, because he
realizes that his mother is as sick and twisted as... as
Schillinger! And him! You know? Itís a big moment for him,
it was a huge moment for him. And because, see, at that
point, heís so far... well, heís not so far past it, but
heís done a lot of work on himself, you know what I was
saying? Anyway, thanks for asking that one. That was my
favorite question! [laughs]
webmaster: Youíre such a bitch, Lee.
appreciate that. Are you gonna put that up there? That you
said Iím such a bitch?
webmaster: Should I?
Iím curious. Why, oh why, do you think weíve been able to
witness any number of violent sexual acts in Oz Ė Adebisiís
rape of Schibetta, Keller sending Barlog off with a bang,
and Beecherís game of Blow and Bite with Robson are just
three that come immediately to mind Ė and yet the camera
fades out whenever Chris and Toby start kissing? Are you all
trying to drive us batty? Is Tom Fontana simply a cruel,
sadistic cocktease? Or is the pointed lack of love scenes in
Oz the result of a greater moral or philosophical statement
"Why oh why?"
How about, where oh where has my little
dog gone? Donít start with nursery rhyme beginnings. Okay?
Next. Itís Bite and Blow! You gotta bite before you blow the
dick off, not blow and bite. Or, itís Blow - Bite - Blow,
because I spit it out... Come on! Hello? Dude, youíre
driving me crazy. Okay, listen. Iím only gonna go through
this once. Your answer is in your question. If you
were to continue to see us do anything, one of us would have
to end up dead or maimed! You talk about Adebisiís rape of
Schibetta, me biting whatshisnamesís dick off -- and I say
whatshisname because I don't *respect* him -- and the
blowjob/snap the neck? Dude! Itís love! Weíre talking
love! Itís nice, itís a nice moment! Jesus Christ! Oh my
god! Stop dissecting!
webmaster: But you just told him to keep dissecting.
I know, yeah, but you know what? I said thatís his job, but
you know what? Iím firing him. From dissecting. You are
fired from dissecting! Just let the show wash over you. If
you think about it too much, you will end up driving me
Lastly Ė tell me honestly. Am I thinking too much?
I think Iíve covered that. Yes, yes, yes! Why oh why would
you have to ask that question?
Tobias Beecher's intense and ever-changing circumstances and
development have, in my experience anyway, made some of the
most intriguing and complex emotional scenes I've seen on
t.v.- Any t.v. shows come to mind that you have actually
become addicted to because of watching a character's life
like a car wreck (and then the hospital, the physical
therapy, etc...)? Thanks, me
Beecher? Whoís that? Next question! This is Ask Lee,
okay? [laughs] God, I am such a dick. Yeah,
actually, I was into the "Six Million Dollar Man" like that.
Lee love your answers to the questions you really take time
out and give long answers which is really appreciated.
anymore they won't be. [laughs]
my question is what will be your next project after Oz is
over with. Do you think Mr. Wolf would give you a job on Law
and Order SVU with Chris.
you for appreciating my long answers. You know what they say
about a guy with long answers, donít you? Long-winded...
Anyway. I did this episode of " ER" thatís going to be on
this Thursday. And actually, Dick Wolf was at the wrap party
for this season, and so was this woman Roz Weiman, Iíve
known her for a while, and she said to me, ďYou got to let
me introduce you to DickĒ -- who Iíve actually met before Ė
and I go, jokingly: ďNo no no no no, I canít meet him. Then
heíll hire me!Ē
just like to say you guys had some great chemistry together.
You and Chris did some hell of acting because if I didn't
know you both were straight you would have fooled me.
know, I was a lot straighter before I did these scenes with
both gave your all to those character which we fans really
enjoyed and are sad its coming to and end. Oz will always
be one of the great shows that will always stand out in my
mind it was done very good. It also had some great acting
and some great actor especially you and Chris and Eamonn
Lee. I have to start off by saying that Beecher is one of my
very favorite characters, and this is coming from someone
who likes almost everybody on Oz!
that makes me feel good! No, Iím fine with that. Really,
are a great actor, and I always enjoy watching you. Now,
here's for the quesions:
You mentioned that in the scene where you kissed Keller's
bullet wound you felt oddly feminine. Almost like your
character was a woman. It seems that a lot of other people,
including Meloni, feel that your character is the more
"feminine partner" in what they see as being a very
non-egalitarian, almost gender - typed relationship, and
this also seems more in line with what they have been
portraying on the show as of late. This is confusing to me,
because even though Beecher was having sex with a man, I
always considered him to be pretty masculine, and both him
and Keller to be equals (at least sexually---I know he has
at times definitely been under Keller's thumb). What are
your takes on this?
know, I am not going to give these kind of answers if youíre
going to misconstrue what I say! [laughs] What I
was talking about was, as an actor, sometimes images
come through, and feelings, and stuff like that. So it could
be an image -- of my mother, of whatever. Itís not about the
character, itís about what happens to me in
the scene. Beecher is not feminine. They have an equal
relationship. Now, hereís your assignment. Go back to the
question, find that answer, read through it again, and I
want you to write a little essay. For the next time I come
around. Telling me that you understand it now. What I was
talking about was what goes on as an actor, which is that
thereís like four or five different levels. Knowing the
lines, seeing what the other person is doing, thinking about
the character, the history of the character, whatís going on
in the scene... and then also, thereís free-flowing images.
Iím sure this is almost exactly what I said. And that was
where all of a sudden a flash of like, nurturing, or
mothering, or femininity, something like that, flew into my
head. Now... Iím serious about this essay! And you better be
like, "I understand that now, and Iím sorry about that. I
understand so little, but I use such big words." That should
be how that essay ends.
When you first sat down with Tom to talk about the character
of Beecher, were there any character traits that you guys
had planned on at first and ended up rejecting down the
line? Was the Beecher that was first in your guys' head
different than the Beecher we saw?
first talked about it, it was very general; about a guy who
comes into prison, you know, and has none of the skills he
needs, everything is stripped away, what does he have to go
through to survive? That was basically our first talk about
it. And you know what? Thereís no way, from before anything
of Oz was written to when itís all completed, thereís no way
to know everything thatís going to happen. It has a flow to
it. Itís like life. You may think, ďOh, in ten years Iíd
like to have a house and a Porsche,Ē but in ten years those
two things may or may not be true.
Tom Fontana says that he will be finishing the story he
"originally set out to tell" in Season Six, and that means
that the focus will be returning to the characters (left
alive) and storylines of the first season. What do you think
about this, and are you worried for your character, lol?
ever worry, because worryiní is a waste of my time. (Thatís
Guns 'n Roses, people.)
Finally, do you have a favorite season of Oz? What season do
you think was the best, and what one do you think was the
have any favorites.
you couldn't play Beecher, what characters would want to
Thank you so
much. Good luck shooting the final season.
Lee I'm a huge fan yours. I have some questions for you.
Do you have any tattoos in your body and where do you have
a tattoo on my right calf.
color is your favourite?
know. I donít really have any favorite color. I used to
always say blue, but it depends on what itís on, or where it
is. Black is a great color sometimes, sometimes thereís
pinks in a sunset that are really awesome. I go on a
case-by-case thing! I try not to... you know, whenever Iím
grading something on a scale of 1 to 10, I never give
anything a 10. Because what if you find something thatís
just a little better than a ten? You see? So I donít pick
favorites. I donít believe in superlatives.
bands that put out albums... I just came up with this today,
this is a great one. For example, Poison? Poisonís album,
that they put out with all their hits? That should be called
ďgood hitsĒ. [laughing] I actually did come up with
that today! Because how can you really call them great
hits? "Good Hits."
food is your favourite? Thanks for your answer.
hold on -- I do have a favorite food. Itís called kumpe,
itís a Norwegian dish. And thereís a dollar in it for you,
if somebody makes it for me!
What kinds of things move you to tears? Do you hide your
tears? Have you ever broken down in front of a friend?
Christ, like three times this week. I actually just
connected with a friend of mine, this girl Karen that I went
to high school with, about two weeks ago, and I started to
cry like three times. I did. We hadnít seen each other in
like fifteen years! The second thing that she said to me
was, "Iím sorry I wasnít there when your mom died." That
kind of shit crushes me. People make me cry, you know? My
relationships with people.
are you when people you love cry? Do you feel uncomfortable
or do you try to comfort them?
know what? Neither. Generally, I let them be. I do not get
uncomfortable when people have outbursts. And I think that
one of the things that Ė even though Iím an actor, and good
acting is reacting Ė I think in the real world, a lot of
times what we need to do is not react, when people
have an outburst, whether it's of anger, or sadness. You
know? Thereís no reason to feel uncomfortable, because weíve
all had experiences like that; there's no reason to comfort
them, because in a way, when you finally let go of emotion
like that, you are sort of comforting yourself. I usually
just, Iíll be there for them, and not make them feel like
anything is wrong with what theyíre doing. And you know, if
they say, "Hey, hug me," or they take your hand or
something, then sure, you do that Ė but you know, to offer
it up, I think that being uncomfortable and trying to
comfort are both you being uncomfortable, and trying
to do something to make it go away. And there you have it.
Good question! Thatís a good question.
you and Chris close enough, comfortable enough to cry in
front of each other? Thanks
had to. Yeah, I guess, yeah. I never hold shit back. Thatís
not how I work.
Please name the last book, movie, piece of music that moved
you to tears. Please?
going to be weird, but thereís a Jethro Tull song that Iíve
been listening to a lot lately, off of Aqualung. Itís
called "Wondering Aloud."
you believe in God? If so, would you describe yourself as
someone who prefers the sense of belonging of organized
religion, the take what you need and leave the rest, or the
to think of myself as a dyslexic agnostic insomniac. I stay
up all night wondering if there is a dog. [laughs]
I donít know, I donít want to talk about that. Because who
cares what I believe?
Lee; Are you piss off that Oz season 6 is going to be last
season? Have you talk to Tom Fontana about keeping the show
on for at least 2 more years?
didnít get angry, and no I didnít try to convince Tom to do
Hello! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! I have loved reading
all the answers you have so graciously given us. Of course,
I'm greedy. I want more. So here goes--
Being a fan of your luscious body, I would like to know what
diet/exercise you do to keep your body, well, luscious?
Also, did you do anything in particular to lose the weight
you've lost for Toby?
luscious. [Lee laughs. A lot.] Well thank you thank
you thank you. You know, I run a lot, thatís the
mainstay of my workout. And when I get to the gym, generally
Iím doing sit-ups and push-ups and pull-ups. In the
beginning -- I think I weighed like 190-something pounds
--anyway, I just controlled my diet. And my idea that I sort
of came up with during the first season was that gradually
the character would come more into focus, physically and
mentally, and so part of that was losing the weight, and
doing different things with the facial hair, which was sort
your lovely wife Leslie get jealous when we talk of your
luscious body? Or does she do as I would and grab for
certain parts, give a bodacious smirk and say 'MINE!!!!!'?
most importantly, according to sources (you), your answers
are chatty if they are verbal and short if you must type.
So, just how many fingers do you use to type?? 'Enquiring'
minds want to know? Yours ever so humbly (and greedily) --
can use all ten, but only one at a time...