Jason Lee seems like a man who prefers to stay busy. Having just appeared on “Live with Regis and Kelly” moments before, Lee talks to us from a car on his way to the airport so that he can return to shooting his new TNT cop drama “Memphis Beat” later in the afternoon. And Lee’s last TV hit, “My Name Is Earl,” was barely deceased (it was canceled for low ratings) before he reappeared in this somewhat less-quirky role as Dwight Hendricks, a southern police detective who is also an Elvis impersonator.
“[Earl was] more goofing off and having a good time doing that and [Dwight] is having a good time taking a completely different approach, which is a little bit more thoughtful,” Lee explains about the new role. “It really became my objective to make this guy real whereas with Earl, it was a little more fantastical.”
“Memphis” isn’t a usual gritty crime drama; Lee performs (though his voice is dubbed over) at a few points in the show. Does this mean audiences want more colorful dramas than just “Law & Order” procedurals?
“It’s certainly more interesting when you can be as invested in the characters as you are in whatever the case is or who the bad guy is and how they find them,” Lee says. “I think it’s a character thing.”