Lennie James, star of “Jericho” on CBS.
Book I’m reading:
At the moment I’m re-reading ‘No Matter How Loud I shout’ by Edward Humes. It is an account of a year in the life of the juvenile court system in LA. It is beautifully written, with righteous anger, honesty and an insight that few have a handle on. It is both scary and uplifting on almost every turn of the page. If you enjoy and cherish your ignorance do not read this book. If want to know how tomorrows criminals are being fed and bred today read it now. Other than that I’m reading “The Kite Runner” by Khaled Hosseini…just for the laughs!
Total number of books I own:
More than can be counted on the fingers of 378 people, but 10 less than my next-door neighbour! I counted his collection during a really boring birthday party.
Three books that mean a lot to me
Couldn’t possibly pick three however pushy you are.
Last film I saw:
Truth be told it was “The Bucket List” with Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. My kids took me. I have to say I expected to hate it, especially as it starts with a “Shawshank Redemption”-ish voice over from Sir Freeman. I don’t like it when he does anything that reflects badly on his or the movies utter brilliance. But again, if I’m honest, they pulled it off. They stayed on the right side of themselves and I’m glad I saw it.
Three films that mean a lot to me:
As with books, couldn’t possibly do three.
Who do you think is the best actor in Hollywood at the moment?
I like actors who just do the job. Actors who try to make the craft an art or something like it. I like guys who invite you into the soul of their characters. Morgan Freeman at his best can’t be touched for doing that. Ditto for Gary Oldman, Jeff Bridges, Lili Taylor, Ed Harris, Linda Hunt, Anthony Hopkins when he feels like it, Jeffery Wright and Daniel Day-Lewis when he’s not showing his tail feathers. Actors I’m starting to feel that about are Clare Danes, Ryan Gosling, Mos Def, Charlize Theron and Ben Foster.
Who do I think was the brightest star or the silver screen?
James Stewart and Burt Lancaster are my favorite old-school actors. When the screen was silver, they were unique talents. They were underrated actors whose legacy has been overshadowed by Brando and the myth of the method actor. Look at them again. Look at Lancaster in “Sweet Smell of Success” or “Seven Days In May.” Look at Stewart in “Harvey” or “Mr. Smith Goes To Washington.” Really look at how those guys get the job done. Every movie they made was a lesson in making the craft an art.
If you could play any real-life person in a movie who would it be?
Marvin Gaye or Officer Dibble.
Three songs that mean a lot to me:
If you keep asking for just three I’m going to have keep not being able to answer.
Concert that changed my life:
Two concerts come to mind. The first was to see a band called Madness. They played ska music, which was a mix of blue-beat reggae and punk rock. It could only have happened in the cities of England and it happened at the right time for me. It was a cross between the music my parents brought with them from the West Indies and punk that had changed the musical map in the UK. It is beautifully angry politically aware music that you can dance to. I love it and I got to the stage and danced with the band. Even getting beaten up after the concert didn’t wipe the smile off of my face.
The first time I saw Stevie Wonder in concert, I was so excited I turned to everyone and anyone who would listen, and many who wouldn’t, and told them that the man on stage was really Stevie Wonder! I MEAN REALLY, REALLY STEVIE WONDER! I couldn’t believe I was in his presence. Yes there were 27,000 other people in the room. But in my minds eye it was just me, Stevie. And Sir Duke!
* TV: “Law and Order,” the original. Briscoe and Green. It’s seems to be on in that last hour of solace before the kids come home from school and I have to be a grown up again.
* Film: “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” It reminds me of a gang of friends I had between 16 and 20 years of age. We watched “Raiders” at least once a week, twice at weekends. Knew the lines and never tired of say them over and over. They were days of joy.
* Reading material: The Daily Mirror. It’s a London tabloid newspaper. I mostly read it for the football and sports coverage. I really do! Not for the trash or the gossip at all. Really!
* Web site: Todareistodo.com. It’s the fansite for the football team I support. – Tottenham Hotspur. Now when I say football I mean football. The game played with the feet and a ball. Not the one where heavily padded guys throw the ball to each other…with their hands! I’m a season ticket holder of many years standing and miss them like family when I’m in the states. This web site allows me to scream at the wind as if I were at the football ground.
* YouTube video: There’s one called “No Smoking – Strafford.” In it a Jamaican woman berates an Indian man for smoking on a London train station platform. She loses her mind at him. She has a massive argument with the guy but she is the only one arguing. It’s all filmed on some guys phone and his giggling adds to the enjoyment. Watch it. If you don’t laugh out loud you are not alive. Check you pulse.
What advice would I give to someone wanting to break into my profession?
I get asked this a lot and I always answer with this question. Why do you want to be an actor? There are a lot of people who say they want to be actors when what they really mean is they want to be famous. They want the trappings of the uber famous actors. If what you’re after is fame I don’t have much advice for that. Fame is easy and, in the main, has little to no substance in of itself. If you want to be an actor for real then my advice is study. Study yourself. Study acting. Study actors, especially the ones who are nothing like you. Study theatre. Study film. Study the people around you and study their lives. Don’t get to precious about it and disappear up your own behind, but try to make the craft an art.
Do I have a dream project?
Yes, I do.
What helps me get out of bed in the morning?
Caffeine withdrawal and a weak bladder.
Who was my celebrity crush growing up?
Erica Gimpel. She was Coco in the TV series of “Fame.” If I say anymore it’ll just get messy.
What’s more dangerous: a mountain lion or a bitter ex?
A bitter mountain lion. When they say they’ll rip your heart out and eat it…they can actually do that shit!
Would I rather see the Lakers with Jack Nicholson or the Knicks with Spike Lee?
I’d go with Spike. I met him once and didn’t get to have the conversation I wanted to have with him.
What is the real reason behind answering these questions?
To get as many people as possible to watch “Jericho” on CBS . “Jericho” is the story of a small town in the middle of Kansas that is cut off from the world after a number of nuclear explosions hit the US. It is about a town trying to survive not know who dropped the bombs, why they were dropped or whether there are any more coming. The new season was won for us by our fans. The show was cancelled, but our fans mounted a fantastic protest and won the show back! It is almost unprecedented in U.S. TV history for that to have happen. If you want to see what all the fuss was about, check out “Jericho.”
Five people who I’d like to see answer this survey
My next door neighbour who has 10 more books than me
Ledley King, captain of Tottenham Hotspur football club