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10Qs: James Lee Taylor On Being Mary Jane, Nudity & Filming Those Steamy Sex Scenes

James Lee Taylor, model and actor.

Perhaps best known for his sultry role as a vodka-swilling werewolf in Three Olives' "Werewolf of London" commercials, British heartthrob James Lee Taylor recently made his U.S. acting debut in a recurring guest role on BET’s Being Mary Jane.

Known for its provocative and bold sex scenes, Being Mary Jane follows the title character—played superbly by Gabrielle Union—as she balances her broadcasting career with an overload of commitments to family, friends and some very sexy men. The show will undoubtedly utilize Taylor’s physical attributes (which you can follow on his Instagram) as he becomes one of Mary Jane’s bedfellows.

During a transcontinental phone call, Taylor answered some of my most pressing questions about Gabrielle Union, sex scenes, nudity, and why his spirit animal is a mountain goat.

I just watched your debut episode of Being Mary Jane! How did you land the part of Eddie?

Uh, how did I land it? The further I go down this road, I get closer and closer to nailing it, but on this particular day, I was just very calm. All the stars aligned. I guess I just really gravitated to the material: I remember doing the audition and having this eye contact and like, ‘Bang!' I left there thinking that went really well. It took me right into the scene a little bit. 

You've got to tell me about Gabrielle Union. Is she as fantastic as I imagine?

Gabrielle is lovely. It was so charming watching her. The whole way through she was supportive and fun to work with, so professional and she knew her job backwards. [She] was so sharp and was like on it. It was a real pleasure. The whole team was lovely to work with, they really encouraged me to be myself and wanted to bring out the very best of me and my performance. 

Gabrielle Union & James Lee Taylor in Being Mary Jane on BET

Gabrielle Union & James Lee Taylor in 'Being Mary Jane' | Photography by Guy D'Alema

I've read that your first interaction with her was a memorable one...

[Laughs.] The first scene we have to kiss each other, so I was like, ‘Hey, Gab, when I kiss you. Like this is my first day on the job. Do I use my tongue or what do I do? Like how does it work?’

She sort of looked up and smiled at me. She looked at me and said, 'Surprise me.' And then she left me hanging there like, ‘Ah!’ 

Being Mary Jane is a very bold show in terms of sex, so I know you have some sex scenes coming up. What were those like, especially after your first kissing scene?

They went well. There were lots. They get more and more as the show goes on. In one of the episodes coming up, we have a full-on sex scene, and I’m naked. You see the back of me.

How was that? Were you completely nude?

They make you wear a sock, and I thought a 'sock' was some sort of acting device or special mechanical, specially designed type of equipment to go around your... you know, go over you during the sex scene.... So I’m there and they give me this sock, and I’m approaching her. I know what I’ve got to do in the next scene and it was not quite a daunting experience, because again Gabrielle was so calm and cool. She was like: 'James, I’ve done this so many times through the seasons. It’s like second nature to me.’

I didn’t feel awkward or weird doing it, but the sock made me laugh. Like what the hell is that? [Laughs.]

Espcially after your time modeling, you're obviously very comfortable being naked. How did you become so confident?

So inherently as a person—James Taylor—I’m very shy, but put me on the stage naked and I’m fine. It just comes out of me. It’s a little Jekyll and Hyde that I have inside myself.

James Lee Taylor, model and actor.

Photo by Nihat Odabasi

Before Being Mary Jane, the Off-Broadway production of Tesla was your biggest acting endeavor. Did that prompt your decision to focus on television and film?

I always wanted to go into TV. Actually the theater thing happened by chance. I was going to school and in New York and they were like, ‘Why don’t you try doing this?’ So I did, and it went really well. 

I grew up watching my father on stage. What was so lovely about doing Tesla was I got to invite my father to the theater in New York and for the first time in his life he was able to hand on the family baton because I was on stage performing and he was watching me. 

What do you hope to do in the future, and what TV shows would you die to be on?

I would love to, trajectory-wise, be on Game of Thrones or Vikings or one of those shows. That’s my favorite show to watch, other than Being Mary Jane, of course. Ultimately [playing] Bond is my endgame. If I could combine Bradley Cooper, Jason Statham and Gerard Butler; that’s how I’d like to market myself.

That's a great acting hybrid. Bouncing off that, let's play Marry/Fuck/Kill, the British actor version: Daniel Craig, Tom Hardy, and Benedict Cumberbatch.

That’s a bit extreme, isn’t it?

Well everything is extreme nowadays...

I wouldn’t want to fuck any of them because I’m straight. You’re selling me down the river here! [Laughs.] I wouldn’t want to kill any of them. I can admire a beautiful man and be like, ‘You’re very handsome and very talented.’ Which I think all three of those are.

Next: What would be your spirit animal be?

I always thought it was a mountain goat, right? Because I quite like to graze where I am, I’m quite stubborn and I quite like to go back to my little mountain and be on my own. But I looked at my horoscope last week and, apparently, I’m a fox—because I’m a hunter but then I’m being hunted sometimes, and I can be sort of deviously cunning to get where I need to get to.

Also, if you ever meet me, I guess I’m a big puppy dog because I’m very playful and very funny. I don’t know what I’d be... I’d have to be somewhere between the three of them.

Wow you've given that some serious thought!

I’ve been thinking about this... [Laughs.]

Watch Taylor in his studly "Werewolf of London" commerical:

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