Critical is the UK series about a state of the art Major Trauma Centre. The series was recently nominated for an IFTA award. Orion plays Brian Zhao, the head of the CT department at said Trauma Centre. As the head of the department which identifies any internal injuries an incoming patient may have, Brian is extremely detail oriented. As someone who suffers from a mild OCD, Brian is hardwired to be the ideal head of the CT department. This trait, combined with a brashness, could make Brian seem irritated or tense, but Lee used these qualities to find humor in the role. Orion reveals, “Brian was fun to play as he has no social filter and doesn't observe social niceties. If he doesn't like what you're doing he will tell you straight without beating around the bush. At first this may sound rude, however the character I created came off with a brusque charm, causing people to find his abruptness amusing rather than annoying.”
Those with a weak stomach might have had quite a difficult time with the medical nature of the show and its dire situations. Quite the opposite, Orion eagerly researched his role by spending time in a working CT department. Seeing the professionals deal with all manners of life threatening circumstances and a variety of patients (including shackled prisoners) increased the respect he already had for the work of those in the National Health Service. Lee found that the recreation of these situations on set was a more lighthearted affair. Although he confirms that the highly professional cast and crew understood when to give actors the space needed to access the emotions for dramatic scenes, there was a fair amount of comedy between takes. Orion comments, “Everyone is such a professional on Critical. It’s always exciting to be a part of such great work. With long days on set and some intense subject matter, there has to be a release to allow you to find a comfortable mental place. One of the popular ways on Critical was for the medical practice dummies to be placed in somewhat compromising and awkward positions. It wouldn’t be proper to mention the names of those involved but I will say, when you are placing yourself in an emotional state that is so intense…you really appreciate someone giving you a good laugh afterward to even you out.”
There was a desire for Lee’s role as Ambassador Zhang to continue on Tyrant but scheduling prevented this. It’s a good problem to have; Lee states, “At the same time I was offered the role of Zhang, I was offered a co-lead part in Trevor Nunn’s Volpone at the Royal Shakespeare Company. Trevor Nunn is a legend in theatre circles, having directed the first Cats and Les Miserables. He had been artistic director of the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Royal National Theatre. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to work with this man and at the same time, I really wanted to work on Tyrant as it’s a wonderful production. My agent negotiated a hard out date so I could leave Tyrant and go straight into rehearsals at the RSC. It would have been lovely to continue working on Tyrant as I had a fantastic time doing the work and travelling to filming locations like Morocco and Budapest. Unfortunately, I can’t be in two places at once.” Cameron Gharaee (Ahmed Al-Fayeed on Tyrant) was one of Lee’s many co-stars who were sorry to see him leave. Gharaee remarks, “Orion was a pleasure. He was professional, kind and wonderful to collaborate with as an artist. He got to know everyone on set and extended a hand wherever possible to push forward the creative process. I got to know him on a more personal level over dinner and his curiosity for theatre and art were grand. I always hope to meet people like Orion on set. They give a wonderful fan to the creative flame.”
For those who have already seen Orion Lee on the theatre stage or in one of his many television and movie roles, there will soon be an opportunity to see him as Burke in the Evolutionary Films production Vengeance This film about an ex-soldier turned mercenary involved in uncovering a conspiracy, gives further proof to Orion Lee’s continuing goal to diversify his roles and continued challenging of his abilities.