J. Lee (episode credits: J Lee) is an American actor, writer, and musician who portrays Navigator and later Chief Engineer John LaMarr in The Orville.

Background Edit

J. Lee was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri. Unlike many other members of the main cast, Lee was not interested in science fiction as a child, instead preferring the works of Stephen King. King's emphasis for detailed world-building sparked an interest in Lee for large-scale, immersive storytelling like The Orville.[1]

Lee attended Indiana University where he received a bachelor's degree from the Jacobs School of Music. After matriculation, he moved to Los Angeles, California to pursue a career in film and worked at a Guess clothing retail store to support himself.[2]

Lee's first job in Hollywood was as a receptionist for Fuzzy Door Productions, the production company for Family Guy (and later for The Orville). He was quickly coined the "bartender of Family Guy" because staff often conversed with him in their free time - including Seth MacFarlane.[3] Soon, Lee was invited out to the writers' karaoke nights, which led to voice-over work.[3] His first gig was as a black leprechaun on the MacFarlane show American Dad!

Later, MacFarlane launched a new cartoon sitcom, The Cleveland Show, which attracted the interest of Lee. During one of their nights out, Lee asked about the status of the new program and was hired a week later.[3]

In addition to acting in short films and doing voice-over for other MacFarlane shows like Family Guy and American Dad!, he also worked as a production assistant on Family Guy and a writer for The Cleveland Show.

The Orville Edit

Around August 2015,[n 1] Seth MacFarlane took J. Lee out for dinner and nonchalantly mentioned that Lee would be perfect for a certain character on an upcoming project and asked if he was interested in acting in someone else's work. Lee accepted his, albeit vague, proposal but did not hear from MacFarlane.[2] (Unbeknownst to Lee, MacFarlane was teasing information of the show to Scott Grimes (Gordon Malloy) as well.)[4]

Auditions began for the role of John LaMarr on The Orville, which Lee pieced together was the character MacFarlane told him about. He auditioned for the role and, several weeks later, MacFarlane told him the good news: Lee was always intended to be LaMarr, but MacFarlane needed him to go through the audition process first.[2] He was announced as a regular on the show on April 19, 2017 alongside Peter Macon (Bortus).[5]

On the character he portrays: "It’s loosely based on me but the more I play John LaMarr and really step into his shoes, the more I find things that are very different for John and myself. He’s outspoken and funny, but John can be very cerebral at times and a quiet observer." [6]

Trivia Edit

  • He is an accomplished piano player who has won several awards, including first place at the DeBose National Piano Competition, and played at Carnegie Hall at the age of 12.
  • After winning the part for John LaMarr, Lee asked his friend Ahmed Best, who played Jar-Jar Binks in several Star War movies, for advice. According to Lee, Best told him to "[j]ust have fun no matter what people say or think.' Because some people loved Jar Jar and some people hated him. But he did his job."[3]
  • His favorite prank on the show was Isaac severing Gordon Malloy's leg.[7]
  • He hated sitting in the Social Correction chair and called the experience "creepy."[7]
  • When Grimes and Lee's characters worked together at the helm of the Orville in Season 1, the actors frequently goofed off between takes pretending to be hosts of a breakfast talk show. They recall that MacFarlane was annoyed by the antic.[8]

See also Edit

Notes Edit

  1. Lee said that the dinner occurred the same time MacFarlane told Grimes about the show at a party, and Grimes said the party was around August 2015. See TV Guide Magazine, "'The Orville' Cast on What to Expect with the New Series (Part 2)", YouTube (Aug. 24, 2017).

References Edit

  1. "THE ORVILLE Exclusive Seth MacFarlane & Cast Interviews - #SDCC 2017". JoBlo TV Show Trailers. July 23, 2017.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "J Lee Interview | AfterBuzz TV's Spotlight On". AfterBuzz TV. Oct. 10, 2017.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Eggertsen, Chris. "How a 'Family Guy' Receptionist Rocketed His Way Aboard 'The Orville'". The Hollywood Reporter. Sept. 21, 2017.
  4. TV Guide Magazine. "'The Orville' Cast on What to Expect with the New Series (Part 2)". Aug. 24, 2018.
  5. "Peter Macon &J Lee Join Seth MacFarlane's Sci-Fi Dramedy, 'Orville'". Shadow and Act. April 20, 2017.
  6. LaPalme, Kevin. "THE ORVILLE’S J LEE AND HIS LEAP OF FAITH". LaPalme Magazine. Dec. 6, 2017.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Afterbuzz TV. "Scott Grimes & J. Lee (The Orville) | San Diego Comic Con 2018". YouTube. July 21, 2018.
  8. Sisk, Angela. "The Orville Panel Comic Con 2018 Part One". YouTube. July 22, 2018.