Warrior Producers Explain How Bruce Lee Influenced Multiple Characters

During the opening credits of every episode of Warrior, the Max series reminds viewers that it is "based on the writings of Bruce Lee." The late screen icon came up with the concept for the show that we now know as Warrior back during the height of his career, pitching the show as a starring vehicle for himself. That didn't work out, but Warrior is now an acclaimed hit decades later, and Lee's fingerprints are all over the show. Not only does his daughter, Shannon Lee, executive produce the series, but multiple characters are modeled after Lee's personality and career.

Ah Sahm, the show's lead protagonist, is the character Lee created for himself to play. Andrew Koji's character shares a lot of similarities with Lee, but so does Li Yong, the quiet but powerful Long Zii officer played by Joe Taslim. Executive producer Jonathan Tropper recently told ComicBook.com how they used Lee as a basis for more than one character.

"We actually wrote the role of Li Yong for Joe Taslim," Tropper began. "And Justin Lin, our EP, was very struck at how Joe could move like Bruce Lee and Joe had a certain essence that felt in some ways a lot more like Bruce Lee than Andrew Koji. because Andrew Koji is six foot one and got long limbs and in no way embodies the physicality of Bruce Lee in those respects. And I think Justin put the idea into all of our heads that we don't have to confine Bruce Lee to Koji.

"And there are moments when we do. We definitely have Joe, certainly in his fight movement and sometimes just in his cocky raise of an eyebrow or tilt of his head, we definitely have Joe embodying some of that Bruce Lee swagger as well. And we think there's enough to go around if anyone else wants a piece, too. And it's really important."

Tropper went on to say that it was important at the beginning to make sure Koji wasn't tasked with simply imitating Bruce Lee when playing Ah Sahm. Yes, that was the character Lee created for himself, but they wanted it to be unique to Koji for this series. 

"It was really important when we were grounding Koji in the character to make sure he understood we're not asking him to imitate Bruce Lee," he explained. "'We don't want Bruce Lee imitation. We want you to find the character.' Once he found the character, he then decides how to incorporate certain movements, certain moments, certain winks at the camera, certain things that feel very Bruce Lee. And so both he and Joe have different ways of doing it, but they have equal claim to it.

Big Action in Warrior Season 3

Speaking to ComicBook.com ahead of Season 3, star Jason Tobin hinted at a big and "emotional" fight that fans are going to be really excited about.

"I have a favorite fight scene from Season 3, but I don't feel like I could talk much about it," Tobin told us. "But I can explain to you why I enjoyed it so much, and hopefully when the audience sees it, they'll know what I'm talking about. There's been many, many great scenes, many great fight scenes that I've done on Warrior, but what I particularly enjoyed about Season 3 was that we'd all done this before. We're working with the same teams. There's a shorthand for working together, and it was just another level of collaboration where it wasn't just the choreography, it wasn't just the writing, it was the acting and putting all together so that the fight scene is more than the sum of its parts."

"And then getting to work with the actors as much as it was getting to work with the choreographers, the stunt performers," he added. "It was really a melding of all these different departments and truly when filmmaking is at its best, in my opinion."

New episodes of Warrior arrive on Max every Thursday.