“The cast and crew of the show have become really close. Also, I feel very privileged as an Asian-American male to have a lead role. That hasn't been done in a long time.” Will Yun Lee (about his feelings on getting a role in “Witchblade”)
Actor Will Yun Lee first came to fame portraying Detective Danny Woo on the TNT supernatural series “Witchblade” (2001-2002). He gained further notice as villain Colonel Moon on the James Bond film “Die Another Day” (2002). Since then, Lee has played significant roles in the films “Torque” (2004), “Elektra” (2005), “Oka Amerikee” (2010) and “The King of Fighters” (2010). He also had a regular role on the short lived remake “Bionic Woman” (2007) and a recurring role on “Hawaii Five-0” (2010-2011). His other television credits include roles in the TV miniseries “Thief” (2006) and “Fallen” (2007) and guest roles on “V.I.P.,” “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” and “Law & Order.”
Apart from his acting gigs, the brown eyed performer has graced the covers of the magazines “Seventeen,” “Fashion,” “Venice,” “Korean” and “Complex.” In 2002, he was named one of the “50 Most Beautiful People in the World” by “People Magazine.” He was also voted one of “People Magazine's Sexiest Men Alive” in 2007.
Childhood and Family:
Will Yun Lee was born on March 22, 1975, in Arlington, Virginia, to immigrant parents from Korea. His father, Soo Wong Lee, was a Taekwondo Grand Master and opened a Taekwondo school in Napa, California. His mother's name is Jing Ja Lee. Will began training for martial arts when he was three years old and spent some of his youth teaching at his father's school. His family moved to San Francisco when Will was a teenager. A skilled martial artist, Will later received an athletic scholarship to the University California at Berkeley, where he majored in political science and minored in ethnic studies. While at school, he taught teens at the East Bay Asian Youth Centre. About the same time, he became interested in acting.
In October 2010, Will married actress Jennifer Birmingham in Shreveport, Louisiana.
Die Another Day
Will Yun Lee kicked off his professional acting career when he landed guest spots in the television series “Profiler” (1998), “Brimstone” (1998) and “V.I.P.” (1999) before being cast in the supporting role of Yoyo Lee on his television film debut “The Disciplines” (UPN, 2000), starring Ice-T, Erin Daniels and Eva Mendes. The same year, Lee also portrayed Danny on the independent film “Gung Fu: The New Dragon,” which was co-written and directed by Robert Napton, and Jimmy Nguyen on the critically acclaimed Sundance film premiered “What's Cooking,” starring Joan Chen, Julianna Margulies and Mercedes Ruehl. It was also in 2000 that Lee landed the role of Danny Woo on the television superhero film “Witchblade,” which was based on the cult comic book by Marc Silvestri and Top Cow Productions. Directed by Ralph Hemecker, the film was broadcasted by TNT on August 27, 2000, and earned good reviews from critics. It was nominated for a 2001 Saturn Award for Best Single Genre Television Presentation, a 2001 American Society of Cinematographers for Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography in Movies of the Week/Mini-Series'/Pilot for Cable or Pay TV and Motion Picture Sound Editors, USA's Golden Reel Awards for Best Sound Editing - Television Movies and Specials - Dialogue & ADR and Best Sound Editing - Television Movies and Specials - Effects & Foley.
Due to the strong ratings performance of the two hour action thriller, TNT decided to develop it into an original series. “Witchblade,” which premiered in June 2001, starred Yancy Butler, Anthony Cistaro, David Chokachi, Eric Etebari, John Hensley and Lee, among others. Although the series received praise and was popular among audiences, it was canceled in September 2002. While working on the series, Lee also appeared in an episode of “The Agency” called “The Year of Living Dangerously” (2001) and in 2002, returned to features with a supporting role in the Sundance's Grand Jury Prize nominee “Face,” which was directed by Bertha Bay-Sa Pan and starred Ling Bai, Kieu Chinh and Kristy Wu. After “Witchblade” left the airwaves, he appeared with Jared Harris, Alexandra Holden and Josh Lucas in the film “Four Reasons” (2002), which was written and directed by actress Radha Mitchell. However, Lee did not achieve major prominence until he was cast as Colonel Tan-Sun Moon, a rogue North Korean army colonel, in the James Bond movie “Die Another Day” (2002), starring Pierce Brosnan as 007. Despite receiving a mixed reception, the film grossed over $431 million worldwide.
In 2003, Lee landed the recurring role of Detective Chang on the ABC short lived series “10-8: Officers on Duty,” starring Danny Nucci and Ernie Hudson. He followed it up with guest roles on the series “Threat Matrix” and “Law & Order” (both 2004). On the big screen, Lee was cast in the 2004 action movie “Torque,” opposite Martin Henderson, Ice Cube, Monet Mazur, Jaime Pressly, Jay Hernandez, Max Beesley, Fredro Starr, Christina Milian and Matt Schulze, and as Kirigi on the superhero film “Elektra” (2005), starring Jennifer Garner. Both films received negative reviews from critics.
In 2006, Lee portrayed Vincent, a hit man for the Chinese mob, on the TV miniseries “Thief,” which appeared on the FX network from March to May 2006. Costars of the show included Andre Braugher, Mae Whitman, Malik Yoba, Yancey Arias and Clifton Collins Jr. The same year, he also appeared in an episode of “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” called “Time of Your Death” (2006) and in the TV film “Tsunami: The Aftermath.” The film starred Tim Roth, Toni Collette, Hugh Bonneville, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Sophie Okonedo, among other actors. In addition, Lee was an interviewer for a 2006 documentary titled “The Slanted Screen” (2006), which was written, produced and directed by Jeff Adachi.
2007 saw Lee star as Mazarin in the ABC Family miniseries “Fallen,” opposite Paul Wesley, Rick Worthy, Hal Ozsan, Tom Skerritt, Elizabeth Lackey, Bryan Cranston and Peter Williams, guest star in an episode of “Hustle” and star with Hye-na Kim and Elizabeth Anweis in “Hers,” a dramatic film written and directed by Jeong Jung Kim. In addition, he played Jae Kim on the 2007 remake “Bionic Woman,” starring Michelle Ryan. The show met with a mixed critical reception and was canceled because of poor ratings.
After appearing in the short “6th and Santa Fe” and the television film “Finnegan” (both 2008), Lee disappeared from the screen for a while and returned to the small screen in 2010 when he landed a recurring role in the CBS police procedural series “Hawaii Five-0” and appeared in the TV film “Boston's Finest” as Eddie Lao. He also starred in the films “Oka Amerikee,” alongside Peter Riegert and Kris Marshall, and “The King of Fighters,” with Sean Faris, Maggie Q and Ray Park. In addition, he had a supporting role in “Five Star Day,” starring Cam Gigandet, Jena Malone and Julianna Guill.
Recently, Lee completed filming “Red Down,” a film directed by Dan Bradley that was written by Jeremy Passmore and Carl Ellsworth and based on the 1984 film of the same name. Starring Chris Hemsworth and Josh Peck, the remake was scheduled to be released on November 24, 2010, but is now set for a 2011 release. He will also play Takashi in the series “Where the Road Meets the Sun” (2011) by director Mun Chee Yong, Marcus in the Stanley J. Orzel directed thriller “Far Away Eyes” (2011), opposite Miguel Ferrer and Mercedes Renard, Joey in Mike Gunther's “Setup” (2011), starring Bruce Willis, Ryan Phillippe and Jenna Dewan, and Kaz in Duane Adler's musical “Cobu 3D” (2012), starring BoA, Derek Hough and Miki Ishikawa.