Rolling with the Roles and Filmmaking- Interview with Curtis Lum

Vancouver and Canada are not short of talent with many abilities, and that includes Curtis Lum. I’ve seen some of his work before in film festivals and always found him to be interesting. When I got a chance to interview him, I had to ask him about some of his latest roles, and about his on-set experiences. It was quite fantastic as I learned he has really gotten a lot of great roles and they’re all interesting to have learned about. We spoke for quite a while and now I felt it’s time for you to learn about these roles and what it was like for one of the greatest actors I got the opportunity to chat with.


HNMAG: Tell me a little more about your role as Cisco Jenkins in The Night Agent. How does he impact the story?

Curtis Lum: Cisco Jenkins is a Maryland state trooper, he’s one of the oldest and closest friends to the lead of the show, Peter Sutherland. He impacts the story because, as you’ll see midway through the season, like a good old trusted friend you can call on, Peter calls Cisco when he’s in a bit of trouble and Cisco shows up. Together, they get busy looking for some bad guys and when it’s about the action, Cisco is always up for the fun.


HNMAG: It sounds like he offers a lot of help and assistance. Are there any episodes where he’s the main focus?

Curtis Lum: Throughout the whole season, there’s several little storylines and intricacies going on at the same time. So no, but there’s an episode where he does play a crucial part.


HNMAG: Was it really intense working on set of The Night Agent?

Curtis Lum: There were some days that were more intense than others for sure. With this show, as you can probably guess, there were a lot of night shoots. Those are always fun in their own ways, usually in a more challenging sense. All of the actors did such a great job in terms of being able to be fun and loose in between takes. When the director called “ACTION!” everyone was really honed in and in the zone in bringing the most grounded and realistic energy to set. It was a really exciting project to be part of for that reason.


HNMAG: And with all the intensity, were there any really big issues you had to overcome?

Curtis Lum: There were actually quite a few firsts for me on this show. Whether it was a certain type of action sequence or stunt. Since Cisco is a state trooper and a Quantico graduate –  For me, the challenge was really about navigating and discovering for myself what it felt like to be in the body of someone who’s essentially a trained FBI agent. I had the honour of working with our wonderful SWAT consultant, Odie Gallop. Working with him as far as the body language and authentic movements of how one would move to clear rooms and get in and out of situations, that was a huge one for me. And having the knowledge around the gun as well, that was not only challenging but a big checkmark for me to play a character that well-versed in that world.


HNMAG: What was one your favourite moments on set?

Curtis Lum: I will have to say it was an absolute blast working with stars and the likes of Gabriel Basso and Luciane Buchanan. The two of them on and off-set were just so wonderful to work with. They’re both very smart but also funny and dedicated actors which I really respect and appreciate. But for me, I always kind of geek out and the 6-year-old in me comes out whenever I get to work and shoot in the proper downtown Vancouver core, and there was one night where we actually got to close off some of the streets where I kind of grew up. I got to have the empty streets by myself with a car and a police escort. That was very special for me.


HNMAG: Do you hope for this show to have a lot of seasons?

Curtis Lum: Absolutely, I think this show definitely has a lot of what it takes to go on for multiple seasons. And if it doesn’t, it’s one hell of a limited series because I think the story in it is very strong and very exciting. The second you turn on Netflix and press ‘play’ on this show, you’re immediately admitted a ticket to one crazy roller coaster ride. It’s a fantastic journey.


HNMAG: And you mentioned working with such an amazing cast too. Do you have a feeling many more interesting cast members will appear in this in the future?

Curtis Lum: 100%, the sky’s the limit when you’re in this world. When you’re dealing with secret agents, spies, people in the underworld, etc. No one is exactly who you think they are, and with the creative geniuses behind this show, I think this season just touches on the tip of the iceberg.


HNMAG: I hear you have some other work coming for you too, like a guest role on The Good Doctor. How was it on that show?

Curtis Lum: The Good Doctor was fantastic, it’s been a long time since I’ve worked on a procedural like that and just working with all-star professionals. I was really humbled, because these actors are like surgical with it, no pun intended. Take after take after take, they’re able to cry on a very particular line or moment with zero hesitation and complications. I’m always inspired by things like that. When you see people that are just masters of their craft.

Curtis went on to say how lovely it was being part of such a well-oiled machine, especially a 6-season show like The Good Doctor, everything is flawless. He enjoyed everything, not just how the shoot was done, but the delicious craft service, and best catering ever.


HNMAG: Have you ever found yourself in a difficult situation like what happens in the episode?

Curtis Lum: Ooh. Thankfully, no. I had to do my research to play that role. I’ve had a few friends who’ve been through what my character, “Anthony” went through and I was blessed to have them open up and share their experiences with me.


HNMAG: And as for your role as Ryan on Creepshow, it was your first lead on a TV anthology show. Would you like to do a role like that again?

Curtis Lum: That experience was another big check off of my goals list, being the #1 on that particular episode. I got to be challenged and stretched in every way imaginable and it’s a challenge that not many of us get everyday and so, I took the challenge head-on with nothing but love and gratitude. I got to exemplify and truly experience what it was like  to be a leader. One thing I can tell you about Creepshow, is that there’s no other show out there that has that much passion on set,  from the producers all the way down to us actors and the grips and the PA’s. The passion pumping through that whole set was second to none. Lead by our fabulous director, John Esposito, I’m forever grateful for him and this experience because he’s helped open my creativity a bit more and he’s helped inject a lot more confidence in me – Both as a human and a performer.


HNMAG: What about your role on Hudson & Rex? Was it painful and difficult doing all your own stunts as Kurt?

Curtis Lum: Yes (laughs) Yes, it most certainly was. I don’t regret it at all, but let’s just say that I sometimes forget that I’m not as young as I identify as. When the job was finished, I was definitely limping back onto the plane. I’m starting to pick up on a pattern for all these projects I did in the past 6-12 months as This was ALSO a big check on my life-goals list. In my episode, it’s the first time they show any kind of real martial arts so a lot of people were very excited for this episode. It was such a wonderful honour to have been a part of that experience as well.


HNMAG: And you would definitely do more fight scenes in the future, I bet.

Curtis Lum: Yeah! That’s why this one this means so much to me. This is the first time I did every single one of my stunts, I also played a huge part in coordinating the fight scenes which was a very scary challenge that fell on my lap. In those situations, you can either fold, cower and quit, or you can do everything in your power to rise to the occasion. Luckily, I’ve been blessed with great training and wonderful friends that have helped given me the confidence and reminded me that I had the experience and I was able to do it. I haven’t seen the episode yet, but am proud of what we did.


HNMAG: Are there any other roles on the rise for you that you can talk about? 

Curtis Lum: I can’t, unfortunately. But I guess I could say I’m excited about my Indie projects that I have coming out. There’s a film that I’ve just finished shooting called ‘The Stranger‘, which was written and directed by Tin Pak Lau. That’s going to hit film festivals very very soon. I’m also working on my first feature film this year with writer/director, Milton Ng. He’s written this fantastic story, the film is called The New Diamond Restaurant, and it’s an action/comedy/family/drama/zombie movie. It’s the first time I’ve ever seen a story like this that showcases an Asian family in a North Americanized setting and context. The story just has so much heart to it and so we’re aiming to shoot it this year. My production company Soon Films which is comprised of myself and my writing partner Paolo Valdes, is co-producing this film and this is one of those ones that I have to do for myself and my community and it sort of embodies everything that I want to support in terms of storytelling and representation of our culture and our family norms.


HNMAG: Would you ever write or direct your own concept for a movie/series? 

Curtis Lum: Yeah, absolutely. I’ve actually directed before. There’s two award winning films I’ve done, one is called Grandma’s 80th Surprise that I co-wrote and directed. Over the pandemic, I shot a little micro-short film called The First, where I saw this incredible, real-life thing happen and was immediately so inspired, that I literally ran home to write it all down. This is how I operate, when I have my mind set to something, I just can’t see any other way to make it happen. This was during a time of pandemic with the hurdles and challenges stacked against me. Luckily again with my producing partner Fola and a few people close to her, we found an incredibly talented, first time actor who happened to be her nephew named Ayo. Then from there, we did a casting call looking for boys between 10-13 years old, and fortunately, we were able to find this amazing group of young kids and were then able to bring the story to life. We also have won two awards at festivals and it has been screened both in the UK and abroad. I’m very proud of “The First” as it reminded me that sometimes all you need is just a bit of inspiration and elbow grease to make things happen.

Curtis definitely enjoys his experience having made The First. Even though it’s not quite his first, he does love the fact that he was able to express so freely and unapologetically. As for Grandma’s 80th Surprise, which I’ve seen, it did quite well at VAFF itself. He’s been in another short film called The Stranger, which will soon be going through film festivals itself. Plus there are all kinds of roles he’s sure to get now given his stunt experience and all these other roles he recently had. There’s no telling just what he might do next. But especially check out The Night Agent as it recently got released on Netflix. You won’t be sorry.

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