Although this character actor was born in Korea, he came to prominence as a Japanese everyman with a superpowered pal on the sci-fi smash Heroes
. Raised in the U.S. from age 10, Lee began studying music, dance and improvisation while attending the New England Institute of the Arts. In 2001, he reportedly sold his car and bought a one-way ticket to Hollywood, intending to pursue his showbiz dreams. Initially he performed live, appearing in West Coast productions such as Hair
and playing piano and singing at local bars. But soon his easygoing attitude and average-Joe looks earned him a series of commercials (Red Robin, Hyundai, Butterfinger) and guest appearances. In fact, he landed his first small-screen gig on a 2003 episode of JAG
at his first-ever TV audition. Within three years he had built up quite a résumé, including spots on The West Wing
, however, took his career to a super new level.James Kyson Lee Fast Facts:
- At the age of 10, moved from his native South Korea to New York City with his parents.
- Has appeared in numerous commercials, including spots for Hyundai, Butterfinger and Red Robin Restaurants.
- Landed his first credited TV role in a 2003 episode of CBS's JAG.
- First role as a series regular came with NBC's hit Heroes, playing Ando Masahashi, the best friend of breakout character Hiro Nakamura.
- Middle name, Kyson, is derived from the first letters of his parents' names ("K" and "Y") and the word "son."
- A piano player and singer, Lee has recorded jazz standards and performed at Los Angeles piano bars.
- Plays basketball for the Hollywood Knights, a charity entertainment team.
- Attended Boston University, Boston, MA; attended The New England Institute of Art, Boston, MA