The actor dishes to ET about working with Ellen Pompeo and offers an update on the 'Crazy Rich Asians' movies.
Harry Shum Jr. finally made mom proud. The Crazy Rich Asians star joked to ET's Denny Directo that his latest gig, a recurring role as a medical resident on season 19 of Grey's Anatomy, meant he had achieved his parents' dream of him becoming a doctor.
"I made my mom and dad really happy. They're very happy," he said with a laugh, while promoting his new crime thriller podcast, Realm's Echo Park. "They're like, 'Yes, yes, this is what we wanted!' But my sister is an OR nurse and so it's really exciting to see her excitement and to feel like I'm doing something legit finally."
Shum plays Benson "Blue" Kwan, described as "a sharp-witted, impatient and brilliant" first-year surgical resident. His character is "generous by nature but competitive to a fault, naturally gifted and used to winning at everything," according to the official character description, which hints at a past "family crisis" that "interfered with his career plans and now he’s got a lot to prove."
The 40-year-old actor shared a tidbit about his character's unique nickname, Blue. "It's not just 'cause he's wearing blue right now in scrubs," Shum quipped. "He comes from a background where he got the nickname, Blue, because he won a lot of blue ribbons. He was... he's used to winning. But definitely, he might hit a couple of walls and not being used to maybe taking some L's."
Shum also revealed that he has already worked with Ellen Pompeo, who will take on a reduced role in the new season. "We have," he confirmed when asked about sharing scenes with Meredith Grey. "She's just so sweet and she comes in with so much energy and also wonderful advice."
While Shum is busy scrubbing in on Grey's, he also recently launched a new scripted podcast, Echo Park, a crime thriller set in a not-so-futuristic Los Angeles where clones exist and live on the outskirts of society. A civil advisor for the LAPD harboring a secret addiction, James (Shum) relies on Terrance -- his genetic clone -- to help him pass mandatory drug testing. But when Terrance suddenly goes missing, and multiple clones end up dead, the clues left in his wake lead to a conspiracy even more cold-blooded than murder.
Shum agreed that Echo Park gives off "Westworld vibes," but what sets it apart is that "you don't know if you might have a clone out there." "It was so much fun to record," the actor said. "[A] wealth of characters but this whole world is fascinating to me."
Shum also serves as an executive producer on the podcast and said the "narrative podcast boom has been really exciting." "So many people are in their cars, so many people are just taking walks, which is so beautiful, but being able to use your imagination has been really beautiful," he said. "And to be behind the booth doing a lot of these different character voices -- kind of arguing with myself -- which I now get to do for a living as opposed to doing it at home by myself."
He didn't shy away from the possibility of expanding Echo Park into more than just a podcast one day should the stars align, as several other narrative podcasts have been turned into proper TV shows. (See: Amazon Prime Video's Homecoming, Apple TV+'s WeCrashed, Hulu's The Dropout and many more.)
"I would love that," the Everything Everywhere All at Once star said. "We're talking about that right now but we're excited to get this out there so people can put their own interpretation from what we've been able to put [out]. The team at Realm is wonderful because of the sound design, I’m learning so much about their lighting and how they shade it with the voices is really beautiful."
But if he were to interact with a genetic clone in real life, Shum said he'd "want to have a beer" with it. "But it’s so strange. It’s kind of like looking at this monitor and then it turns its head when you don’t turn your head. That’s the difference."
As for an update on the anticipated Crazy Rich Asians follow-up to the blockbuster 2018, screenwriter Amy Wang has been tapped to pen the script. And in May, it was reported that a new sequel spinoff movie starring Shum's Charlie Wu and Gemma Chan's Astrid Young, which would pick up after their post-credits scene in Crazy Rich Asians, was in early development.
"They're currently writing [Crazy Rich Asians 2] and they're feverishly writing it trying to get it all right," Shum said. "There’s just so many characters, so many things to put in from the book and what’s gonna make it in or not. But I'm really excited, the team is excited, the producers are really gearing up to and ready to try and get this thing going."
Echo Park is available wherever you get your podcasts, including Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Stitcher. The podcast, which drops new episodes every week through Oct. 13, is also available for subscribers to Realm+ and Realm Unlimited.