Exclusive Interview with Young and Hungry’s Rex Lee
Actor and writer Rex Lee is known for his quick wit and comedic timing, but many people would be surprised to learn that acting was not something that he initially saw himself doing. Raised in the states of Massachusetts and California, his family encouraged him to be a professional pianist. As a result, he graduated from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music in 1990—but not before taking his first acting class, which convinced him to pursue a career in acting rather than music. Rex began his journey into acting by working as an assistant for a casting director, all the while taking odd guest roles on TV and minor roles in music. However, it wasn’t long before he landed his first major role as Lloyd on the TV show Entourage. When Entourage ended, Rex joined the cast of Suburgatory as the character Mr. Wolfe. Now, fans can continue to enjoy his comedic brilliance on the hit ABC Family sitcom Young and Hungry as the sassy and self-confident Elliot Park. I recently had the pleasure of chatting with Rex about how he got involved with the show, what he enjoys about playing Elliot Park and what it’s like to work with the rest of the cast. Check it out below!
What do you enjoy the most about playing Elliot Park?
I think that Elliot has a way of being and a way of relating to other people that I really admire. I mean, if I’m going to boil it down to a word or two, I think that he has a sass to him that I really envy. He’s smart, he knows where he fits in the world, he’s very sure of himself—I love that. I love Elliot.
Would you say that he is a lot like you or is he a lot different from you?
Well, I do come from a school of acting that dictates that I figure out how I am like Elliot and amplify that, and then figure out how I am unlike Elliot and diminish that, so, at the end of the day, if I’m at work being or portraying Elliot, I’m really in the mode that I’m the version of Rex that is most like Elliot. So, that’s a long-winded way of saying that I usually feel that I’m a lot like Elliot, but that may or may not be true. (laughs).
That’s really cool! What acting school did you go to?
Well, my degree is in music, and half-way through that program, I said to myself, “What are you doing? I have no interest in being a professional musician.” (laughs). So I took my very first acting class in college, and then by the time I finished, I knew that I wanted to try to make it my career. My family already lived in Lost Angeles so it was kind of a no-brainer for me to come back and live in southern California. I just studied with private teachers here in LA. So, not really a school—when I said school of acting, I meant more of a school of thought than an actual school.
Awesome! What was the audition process like for “Young and Hungry”?
I have the joy of informing you that I did not have to audition! I was very lucky in that David Holding—whom I had never met at that point—when he was writing “Young and Hungry”, he sort of wrote Elliot with me in mind. I think if you asked him, he would tell you that it was more about needing to keep a human being in mind while he was writing the character, and it just worked out. When they were getting ready to shoot the pilot, he went to the casting directors and said, “Oh, I wrote this with Rex Lee in mind,” and the casting directors just happened to be the same casting directors for “Suburgatory “ and they said, “That’s interesting that you mentioned Rex Lee because it just so happens that he was recently let go from “Suburgatory” so he’s free! We should approach him.” And they did, and I loved the writing for the pilot, and we had a nice conversation and—ultimately, he left it up to me. He offered me the role and gave me the option to say yes or no, and the rest is history!
That’s really awesome!
It was a really nice situation for me, because I’ve gone to bad auditions in my life. I’m not the best auditioner in the world.
Yeah, really. I know how to do the job once I get the job, but getting the job is sometimes a pain. (laughs).
So, what do you enjoy the most about working with Emily, Jonathon, Aimee and Kym?
In a way, it’s hard for me to be specific. We really just all get along, and that shouldn’t be such a huge statement but it is. Because, sometimes you go to work and you don’t like everyone the same—I’m not saying that I like everyone the same, but sometimes, you really hate one person or another and that’s not the case with this job. And I love that, that we all get along very well. I think everyone just has an energy for the work which is exhilarating and exciting and inspiring. We all want to put out a good product and we all have fun doing it. We all try to have fun together. It just worked out. I love to go to work!
That’s really a blessing, too, because I know how hard it can be in the workplace sometimes. So, if you could have anyone guest star on the show, who would it be and why?
Oh, gosh…I don’t know if I can come up with an answer for that question. I think if I thought of someone, it would bum me out if that person didn’t show up eventually, so I don’t really have an answer to that.
The season finale of Young and Hungry airs on October 14 at 8 pm on ABC Family! You can also follow Rex on Twitter and on Instagram!