Whereas many kid stars have post-fame stories about rock bottoms and scandal, Rizzoli & Isles‘ young detective Lee Thompson Young has no shame. In fact, the former Famous Jett Jackson star loves remembering his days on the Disney channel.
“It’s always a really great feeling when I talk to people who watched Jett Jackson because we were the same age. We were all kids. I was 13 when I started working on that show and that was part of my childhood. And It’s kind of like we have that in common,” he says. “It means a lot to me when people enjoyed it and when it was a part of their childhood. It’s cool when you see people revert back for a quick second to middle school, and they’re like, ‘Oh, man! I remember…’ It’s really great to me that our work is still with people after ten years.”
And Thompson says he recognizes that he’s had “a great deal of luck and great timing” in his post-child stardom years. In that time, he appeared in 2004’s Friday Night Lights and 2006’s Akeelah and the Bee, projects Thompson says he felt “really resonated with people.” “For a few projects over my career that people recognize me for, I feel like those projects mean something to people.” The latest, of course, being TNT’s Rizzoli & Isles, the female-helmed buddy-cop drama starring Angie Harmon and Sasha Alexander that last year set ratings records. Young plays inexperienced Det. Barry Frost, “a young detective who just wants to prove himself.” But it’s a task often made difficult among a power pair like Harmon and Alexander. Young himself doesn’t feel similar pressure, however.
“You know what, I don’t really notice or often register that this show has two female leads versus male leads or whatever,” he says. “Although, when I sit back and reflect on it, it’s pretty cool to see the two female leads who are interesting, three-dimensional women. They’re not typical roles, and I think the writers try to do things that are fresh and different. But on set, for me, it’s more about appreciating their skills as actresses. Both Angie and Sasha are great people and have been on great shows for their whole careers. They’re so talented, and when they start working together and start playing off of each other, it’s like watching Charlie Parker and Miles Davis play together.”
Monday night marks the start of the show’s second season, which the actor says will feature more action than their first season — a welcomed challenge, he says. “When they send a little action my way, that’s a treat for me…What do you need me to do? You need me to zip-line across this?” After all, he says with a laugh, he once played a secret agent on a TV show…within a TV show.