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Ken Leung: Quiet Actor, Always Kept to Himself . . .

"I feel touched and unnerved. It's magical to have a space made for you": Leung with Evangeline Lilly on "Lost." (By Mario Perez -- Abc)
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Norton said he believes Leung has unlimited potential as an actor. "You sense hidden levels within him and he conveys an intensity of mind," he said. "I don't think anybody's even tapped his full range yet. I'd like to see him do something like Osborne's 'Look Back in Anger' . . . or 'Hamlet.' He'd blow people's doors off."

But despite his track record of playing quirky characters, Leung says he doesn't necessarily seek out these types of roles. "They're [just] kind of offbeat parts of those stories," he said.

Leung said one of his most enjoyable characters was the school shrink in "The Squid and the Whale," where he counsels a student who plagiarizes a Pink Floyd song in the school talent show to get attention from his divorcing parents. "The scene in 'The Squid and the Whale' was shot at my actual high school, so that's a favorite," said Leung of the film shot in Midwood High School in Brooklyn. "It inadvertently brought me back to the neighborhood I grew up in."

It was his role on "The Sopranos," however, that has helped make him a rising star. And the episode, which aired not long after the Virginia Tech killings, was so compelling that many said it was a chilly reminder of the Blacksburg tragedy.

Leung, who is Chinese, said he finds it strange that in a show full of mob violence, the media decided to focus on this one Asian character. "I wasn't critical of those who said it was similar to [Virginia Tech killer] Cho Seung Hui, [but] it was scary that it overshadowed the murder that took place in the same episode involving a gunman," said Leung, referring to a later scene in which a man gets shot in the eye.

Conversely, critics have hailed "Lost" because it features fully developed Asian characters in starring roles, as opposed to the stereotypes often seen in Hollywood. Leung believes the issue may be a lack of exposure by Tinseltown's creative powerbrokers to certain cultural populations.

"How developed Asian American characters are might depend on how developed the relationship is between [film and TV] creators and Asian American communities," he said. "It might not be a lack of certain types of characters as it is an evolving consciousness about those communities."


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