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Starring in a true story – Final Witness – ABC

Loren Lester starring in Final Witness

So I’m standing on a bridge in St. Petersburg, Russia – the camera is rolling,  it’s about 30 degrees, we’re losing the light, my frozen co-star and I are improvising dialogue for a new plot point that was just added to the script, and the director has a death grip on my jacket sleeve to keep it out of the shot (it’s a tight close-up)…oh, and by the way –  it’s a love scene.

And by the way….I’m having the time of my life.

Click the pic below to watch the full episode:

Loren Lester in final_witness_episode_link

Working on FINAL WITNESS was one of my favorite jobs (ever.)   There were a lot of firsts for me:

  • First time playing a real-life character in a true story (I play convicted murderer Hans Reiser)
  • First time playing the bad guy (the many lawyers I’ve played don’t count)
  • First time shooting in Russia (first time out of the country, as a matter of fact)
  • First time that I can say I’m starring in a network TV show (not just as a guest)

And first audition via Skype! The talented team of Director Rudy Bednar and Producer Lee Beckett work for ABC in New York, so I did my audition and callback “long distance” in the office of casting director Scott David, improvising dialogue with the lovely Zuzana Lova who would also win the role of my wife.

This was the first time, also, that I had to do a lot of research before the audition and then a lot more leading up to the shoot (videos, audio files, court transcripts, etc.)

A silent film with sound

The style of shooting was a first for me, too, and was especially meaningful because I’ve always been a huge silent film fan (wayyyyy before The Artist won the Oscar.)  We shot mostly “on the fly”, the way they did back in the silent days (though we had sound, of course), shooting multiple scenes with quick set-ups on sidewalks, in streets, on bridges, in doorways – the actual real-life locations where the story took place (St. Petersburg, Russia where the couple met and Berkeley, California, where they lived afterward, and where the tragedy took place.)

Everything worked out beautifully in all the locations, even in Hermitage Square where our papers were examined by an army of armed soldiers.

It’s an anthology series and I’ve been watching the other episodes which have already aired – the photography and editing is just something you don’t see in most shows: a stylish hybrid of drama, documentary and cinema verite.

Credit goes to an incredible crew, one of the best I’ve ever worked with.

Oh and one more “first” – this is my first blog post.

Leave me a comment after you’ve seen the show – I’d love to know your thoughts.

Loren Lester

Loren Lester has amassed over 40 years of film, stage, and television credits.. He is best known for his portrayal of DC Comics superhero Robin and Nightwing in the numerous Batman animated series and features in the DC Animated Universe.

This Post Has 19 Comments
  1. Oh Loren, that is SOOOOO fantastic. Now, about after the show airs …. I DON’T CARE HOW THEY EDITED IT. I WANT YOU TO DO MORE JOBS LIKE THIS ONE!


    Mary B.

  2. Consummate builder of suspense, you are. Love your writing style, so your admiration of the show’s production techniques carries weight. Russia. Bad guy with a loving wife. I have DVR’d the event and can’t wait. Thank you for letting me know. Er, you write as well as you act, dear friend, which is of course, with erudition and simple believability- perhaps more than a single blog post is warranted.
    Looking forward to seeing it.

  3. Wow Loren! That is AMAZING! Congratulations! You deserve it! You’re incredibly talented and have worked so hard!!! I know what goes into the preparation for a role like this….not to mention the years of preparation for your arrival to HERE and NOW!! Best wishes and much success and happiness always! We’ll be watching!!! Lisa, Sandy, Oliver and Ashleigh xoxo

  4. …also the first time I’m going to Tivo you. (In the nicest possible way.) CONGRATULATIONS! (BTW, I guess it just felt like we were out of the country when we shot in Portland, OR?)
    Love the Blog.
    ( I’ve just used “Tivo” and “Blog” in the same communication. It must be 2012.)

    1. Now use “tweet” “Instagram” and “Pinterest” in the same sentence and you’ll truly be a “hep-cat”. And yes, whenever I’m in a city where people wear sandals with socks I feel like I’m in another country (don’t you love Portlandia?! Hilarious.) Thank you for the nice post.

  5. Congrats Loren! You deserve all the success you are getting. It’s nice to see you in a full series, versus guest role here and there. Can’t wait to see the episode!

  6. YESS!! SHOW NO MERCY!! congrats Loren, just from the stills ,I can tell you’ve never looked better,and I’m only serious, but seriously Loren… I shall record each digit and cherish. It’s nice to watch while a pal and good guy’s action groks massive suction .I think this trajectory looks good on you. JimmyC

  7. Hi, it was really a thrill to watch you as a KILLER LEADING MAN. You’ve never had so many closeups in your life. Who did you have to fuck to get into that picture? We loved how you played totally charming in earlier scenes in Russia and then totally chilling as the dumped husband. WHAT A ROLE! TOTALLY REALIZED! CONGRATULATIONS. LOVE, JERRY AND EMILY

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