August 19, 2013, Lee Thompson Young took his own life while finishing the filming of Season 4 of TNT'S Rizzoli and Isles. The show laid the character and actor to rest on Tuesday, June 24, 2014.
Rizzoli and Isles laid Barry Frost to rest and managed to lead a tribute to his portrayer Lee Thompson Young at the same time.
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The world was shocked last August when a studio check-in failed to bring a no-show Young to the front door. When police entered the apartment, they found a suicide scene. His manager later confirmed the news. Released information later revealed Young had struggled with depression and bipolar disorder.
Fans of the show wondered how the network would handle the death of character and actor.
TV Guide's Joyce Eng scored an exclusive interview with Rizzoli and Isles executive producer Jan Nash about the tribute to the young actor in ”Rizzoli & Isles Boss on Frost's Tribute: We Feel We Honored Lee Thompson Young.”
And she offered a profound standard of success. “Our benchmark was, if his family chose to watch it, would they feel like we honored his memory?" While she can't make the ultimate decision, "we feel we honored him and did what we set out to do."
Without giving away spoilers for last night's episode, Jane Rizzoli's eulogy for Frost reflected more than an on-screen, in-universe death. Angie Harmon "was focused on the eulogy being exactly right, that it be reflective of Barry Frost's character and also be reflective of Lee. It's very lovely."
Eng points out Harmon had input on how to handle the scene. "Set against a slideshow of Frost and some behind-the-scenes shots of Young, Jane highlights Frost's love of and his commitment to his work."
The 29-year-old at the time of death was well loved and appreciated.
And he loved the industry and creative elements that came with experience and education. Between working on sets, the actor graduated from the University of Southern California with Honors in Cinematic Arts.
The rest of the season won't focus on his death so much as the empty desk sitting in front of the other detectives.
Of course the show has to find someone to fill the gap and the character will be introduced in the eighth episode. “He will fill that role of some of Frost's facilities, like computers, but he's not replacing him.” Nash remains adamant on one thing. "There is no replacing Lee."
Tuesday night Lee’s family spoke to Columbia, S.C., NBC affiliate, WIS TV, about his mental struggles and the creation of the “Lee Thompson Young Foundation to try to help remove the stigma surrounding mental illness.”
Diagnosed in his late teens, the actor would sometimes call his mother and to talk about the unsettling moments, to “say he was feeling a little sad again.”
PJ Randhawa’s “Family breaks silence on actor Lee Thompson Young's suicide” reveals therapy, medication, and a balancing of the mind made the effects easier to handle and began a road of recovery.
For a while.
“We really don't know those answers and there's really no way to know." Velma Love, his mother, finds not knowing the ways to be the hardest part—especially when people ask, as if it was easy to know “some of a person’s inner life.”
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