TV & Movies

Why Tommy Welch From Chicago Fire Looks So Familiar

After over a decade of comparatively minor roles, Kenny Johnson got his big break as Curtis “Lemonhead” Lemansky in Kurt Sutter’s groundbreaking FX cop drama “The Shield.” Lem appears in the show’s first five seasons as one of the main characters, and a key member of Vic Mackey’s (Michael Chiklis) strike team.

Before his exit from the show in 2006, Johnson appeared in no less than 65 episodes of “The Shield,” acting opposite heavyweights like Chiklis, CCH Pounder, and Walton Goggins. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, the actor revealed that he didn’t really expect to get the role because he felt that he couldn’t really deliver during his audition. After he found out that he did get the part, however, he decided to dive really deep in Lem’s character.

“I started living the character 24/7,” Johnson said. “I’d get home and write 20, 30 pages of a diary as Lem. Whatever I felt as Lem, I would get out.”

Embodying the character so thoroughly ended up causing actual, physical problems for Johnson when the show’s characters got deeper and deeper in their increasingly bloody troubles. “Sometimes I had dreams at night where I murdered someone and hid the body on the property, and I’ve got this guilty feeling that they’re going to find out,” he said. “It felt horrible; I started getting a lot of stomach ulcers.”

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