James Chen on FBI and his time on Iron Fist

James Chen, best known for his role as Kal in the AMC series “The Walking Dead”, can currently be seen in “FBI”, the latest procedural drama from TV vet Dick Wolf.

The series follows the inner workings of the New York office of the FBI, bringing to bear all the Bureau’s skills, intellect and mind-blowing technology to keep New York and the country safe. Chen, who also recently appeared in Netflix’s “Iron Fist”, plays the recurring character Ian Lim.

How was your 2019!?

It was a great year! Finished up and started another season of FBI on CBS, and I am getting to work with some of my favorite people. Plus a few interesting audiobooks and a project in the works!

Let’s talk about FBI. Do you remember when you found out you had booked the role?

Yes I remember I knew the network had expressed strong interest in me for the role after my call back. And I was really glad to be returning to the Dick Wolf universe with such a great script and cast.

Tell us about season 2. What can you tease about your character ‘Ian Lim’ and the new season?

Ian Lim continues to hack and reverse engineer his way through computer systems and evidence to get leads on the case. And there are some new analyst faces in the JOC he gets to collaborate with!

‘Ian Lim’ is a much different part than the one you played on IRON FIST and THE WALKING DEAD. Was the ‘change’ what intrigued you the most about taking on the role?

Yes I think Ian presented some really fun points of view to explore. He can be sarcastic and witty and always super dry. Something surprising perhaps up his sleeve and something to prove. That kind of competitive, aggressive mind and attitude to outsmart a suspect was refreshing and just good fun.

What goes into playing a role like this? Much research involved?

I’ve had the opportunity to consult with our on set FBI expert – a retired agent himself. And between him and the technical advisor who set up the actual circuit board and microscopes for my evidence analysis on the pilot, I got a good idea of where and how Ian fits into that world.

I imagine, if only based on the material, that the set is a pretty serious, heavy production most of the time?

You’d think so right ?! So would I. But it’s honestly one of the most fun sets I’ve ever been on. Everyone is incredibly professional and exceptional at their jobs obviously, but there are a lot of genius senses of humor in the cast and crew, and there’s plenty of laughs on set. In a way you’d need to to offset the nonstop seriousness of most of these cases. I think our writers do a great job of layering in humorous asides and lines and witty responses throughout any given script to keep you laughing while you’re also in the edge of your seat with suspense.

Do you think we’ll see the return of IRON FIST, as we knew it, to TV one day – – or are you forecasting we’ll be seeing a new incarnation?

I’m really not sure about that one. I’d love to return and further explore all the untapped comic book mythology of Sam Chung and Blindspot and be able to apply my martial arts to an amazingly written Asian-American character such as that. We’ll have to burn some incense and make an offering on the altar of K’un-lun for more guidance on that one.

How’s the new year shaping up?

New year is looking great. I am working on a new project at the moment that I can’t talk too much about but it’s something I haven’t done before and I’m really looking forward to it. I’ll just say I’m spending a lot of time at the gym lately. I’ll also be recording an audiobook, New Waves by Kevin Nguyen, set in the NYC tech world. That’ll be a great thriller and I’m always excited to collaborate with fellow Asian-American artists.

Photo Credit : Ryan West

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