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24 September 2014
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Hotel Babylon: Jack (Lee Williams)

Hotel Babylon

Lee Williams plays Jack Harrison,
Deputy Manager

Former Vivienne Westwood and Calvin Klein model, Lee Williams, gave up the catwalk and party lifestyle long ago and these days can be heard singing, writing or studying art.


Having dropped out of Art College (St Martin's College of Art and Design), to pursue a career in acting, and without ever having attending drama school, Lee has clocked up ten years in the business – starring in films such as Billy Elliott and dramas including New Street Law, Teachers, The Debt and No Angels, among others.


His latest role as Deputy Manager Jack Harrison in Hotel Babylon sees Lee get into some pretty tough situations when he joins the cast as a regular member of the team.


"I love music and have been taking singing lessons for the last year and a half – purely for fun," explains Lee. "I found that a few years ago I felt that my life was just work, work, work and I found myself asking where the fun was in it all. I went to art school years ago and soon realised it wasn't what I wanted to do. But now, as a 33-year-old adult, I find that I love being back at college.


"I've been taking creative writing classes and I've gone back to St Martin's to do painting and singing and what's funny is now, when my friends ring me up to go out, I usually have homework!


"And, of course, what is interesting," he continues, "is that if you are paying for your education yourself you are less inclined to mess around. I missed out on the camaraderie of student life, I think, and that interaction of inspiring each other and willing each other to be good and improve and do well."


Despite his studies, Lee is always working and finds that between acting and homework he doesn't have much time for anything else.


"Acting has been my main job now for what feels like forever, and I am so lucky not be pigeon-holed into one type of drama," says Lee. "I feel lucky that I can go off and be in dramas like Teachers, which is a comedy, or No Night Is Too Long, which is quite heavy – which is good for me and my development."


When Jack Harrison arrives at Hotel Babylon, his interview for the post of Deputy Manager doesn't involve the usual panel one might expect from a five-star establishment. Instead, Charlie has something much more practical up his sleeve to test Jack's mettle.


"Jack is set a sort of test which involves looking after Mr Delaney – Babylon's most notoriously difficult, but important, American guest, played by Jon Culshaw, who is infamous amongst the staff. My induction is to look after him and make sure all his needs are met, which include him asking me to do ridiculous things such as colour code his underwear, provide him with buffalo milk and organise a Japanese banquet in his room with sumo wrestlers and geishas."


Despite trying his best, Mr Delaney is still able to find fault with Jack's efforts and their relationship reaches crunch point.


"I spend a few days doing everything I can to please Delaney, including speaking to his Japanese guests in Japanese, setting up the Japanese banquet and, just when I thought he was going to say: 'it's amazing,' he criticises me – at which point Jack loses it and gives him a piece of his mind."


Thinking he must have failed, Jack heads for the door via Charlie to apologise and say he just wasn't up to the task. All is not lost, however, as Jack soon discovers.


"At this point, Charlie tells me that I'm mad and that Mr Delaney loves me. It's the first time anybody has ever told him how it is, and I get the job. And there Jack's story begins," laughs Lee.


It isn't all plain sailing for Jack, though, as he soon finds out. He enters the hotel at a time of transition and big changes, and the staff are restless. He needs to earn their trust and respect quickly, but doesn't quite have the wherewithal or people skills to get there.


"Charlie is having a tough time and not coping very well with staffing problems, and that's where Jack begins to shine. He becomes Mr Efficient in episode five but it's all short-lived, and things start to go horribly wrong when he tries to do a million things at once," he says.


"The hotel is being used as a location for a film set, and I individually manage to upset every single member of staff by simply going by the rule book rather than using my instincts and understanding."


Jack may speak numerous languages and have lots of qualifications and training, but it doesn't really matter when it comes to working on the floor.


"I used the metaphor of learning to fly in a flight simulator as being very different to actually flying a plane, and it is a similar thing with a hotel," Lee explains. "In his head, Jack can do it all from the training but when it comes to running a real-life hotel he's just not ready for it, and he finds it really difficult to ask for help."


Like any newcomer to an established series, Lee was nervous about his first day on set.


"It was pretty daunting joining a set when you know the regulars practically have their own shorthand and language, and you do feel very much the new boy at school, but the cast were so welcoming and it felt like putting on an old pair of slippers after a few days," he laughs.







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