Quantum Leap’s Nanrisa Lee Talks Becoming a Hologram in ‘Ben Song for the Defense’

QUANTUM LEAP - "Ben Song for the Defense" Episode 115 - Nanrisa Lee as Jenn - (Photo by: Ron Batzdorff/NBC)
QUANTUM LEAP – “Ben Song for the Defense” Episode 115 – Nanrisa Lee as Jenn – (Photo by: Ron Batzdorff/NBC)

Quantum Leap is a revival series on NBC that takes place after the events of the 1989 series of the same name. The show follows a team that brings back the Quantum Leap project and stars Raymond Lee as Dr. Ben Song, the lead physicist who leaps back in time, following in the footsteps of Dr. Sam Beckett from the original series. In each episode, the protagonist goes from one body to the next and in different timelines, helping out the person he’s inhabiting.

Ben isn’t alone and gets help from Addison Augustine, his fiancée and a member of the Quantum Leap team who aids him as a hologram that only he can hear and see. Another vital member is Jenn Chou, the head of security portrayed by Nanrisa Lee. She gets to become the hologram in episode 15, “Ben Song for the Defense,” assisting Ben as he steps into the heels of a lawyer. Nerd Reactor had the chance to chat with the actor about the episode, her role in helping out Ben in the courtroom, showing her good guy qualities, and her favorite episodes.

Spoilers for “Ben Song for the Defense” Ahead

Nerd Reactor: So this is the latest episode coming out. You get to be in the frontline with Ben. What was that like being on the Quantum crew’s side and finally taking part in the action?

Nanrisa Lee: Yeah, personally, it was just so fun. I loved being able to shoot some scenes with Ray and goof off with him and really share a chance to splash around in some comedy with him. I had a great time doing that. As far as my character Jenn, she was reluctant. She didn’t volunteer for that position. That was something she got foisted into. It was really important for her to have that experience because everybody else on the team is so obviously a good guy, from their training and the background of how they got to the program and how they conduct themselves.

Jenn is a hacker. She’s a former felon. She may have made some decisions in her life that skirt the edges of what a normal positive citizen who’s contributing to society in a positive way would do. She lives a little bit of a rebellious lifestyle. There’s a part of Jenn that maybe felt like she couldn’t do it, because she doesn’t have that core, like good guy stuff that everybody else around her does. It was a really important experience for her to have, and to be able to realize that by the end of the episode that she really does belong there.

In the end, I really felt that with the character. There were parts where your character would have a moment, especially with Magic, little teases about your background. And then this one, we get to see more of her caring about other people, especially the lawyers she’s trying to help. And that line where she’s reading the news update of where they’re at now had me emotional.

I don’t know if Jenn thought she was that kind of person before. And like you said, this was the episode. It was an opportunity to see Jenn caring about other people and trying to help other people. Her father was a gambling addict, and so when there’s instability in money and shelter and a foundation, you don’t have that safety. As a result, Jenn learned to be extremely independent and look out for herself and become self-sufficient at a really young age. She had to. You spend a lifetime just looking over your own shoulder. It’s you against the world. And to come into this environment and realize that what she does matters and that she is a good person, it was a really big moment for her.

What was it like for you, just the feeling of being on set with Caitlin, Mason, and Ernie Hudson, and then switching to the action with Ben? Because most of the time, you’re like the people on the chair.

Yeah, it was great. I mean, it was fun to be in such an active role. We’re always racing against the clock in the Leap. You’re rushing from one place to another, you’re getting information, and you’re coming up with ideas. It’s like triage. You just have to put out all these fires everywhere you go, and so that was really fun. As a hologram, you can react to them, but they don’t react to you, and it was great to be able to work with some of our guest cast.

A lot of that guest cast is always in the Leaps, and so we miss out. We’ve had such amazing guests on our show. It was really fun to be able to share some time with them. And Diandra [Lyle], who plays Vicki in this episode, is such a pro and so lovely and so fun to work with. I mean, there were takes where I was even kind of messing with her, snapping in front of her face, and she doesn’t see me and just goes on with her line. So we had a great time.

And you being a regular, what was that like in terms of helping them along, making them feel like part of the family?

This was probably my first episode really navigating that a little bit, but Ray and Caitlin do an amazing job of making our guests feel welcome and a part of the show. Again, our guests are pretty stellar. I mean, Diandra has her own show. That’s pretty par for the course for the guests that we have. Georgina [Reilly], who plays Janice, has a laundry list of credits as well as Walter [Perez], who plays Leaper X. They’re all super accomplished. So they’re pros; they know what to do. But because it’s an environment where we all get along so well, we all like to goof around together in between takes and hang out, I would like to think. I have heard this from guests that we’ve had that it makes it a really fun, relaxed environment to be able to work in, and we missed them when they leave.

The show is all about going into different people and becoming them. Do you have a favorite episode and favorite profession that Ben has jumped into?

Yeah, there are a few. As far as a profession, Atlantis is pretty awesome. To have a bunch of astronauts in it and a spaceship is pretty cool, and watching Ray and talking to Ray about his physicality in that episode because they’re supposed to be in space with no gravity. And Ray did a little bit of wire work, but a lot of that was him just figuring out the physicality of being somebody in a zero-gravity environment. So that aspect was really cool.

As far as favorite episodes, the haunted house one is probably my favorite. “Leap. Die. Repeat,” I love the Groundhog Day one. Just all those characters are so fun, and I love the comedy that they bring. Both of those episodes are such cheeky episodes. And it just really speaks to my slightly more mischievous side.

New episodes of Quantum Leap air Mondays on NBC 10/9c and stream the next day on Peacock.

The interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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