Now starring in Broadway's The King and I, Kim reveals how the experience has impacted how he chooses roles

By Lanford Beard
Updated June 04, 2016 10:25 AM
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Credit: Noam Galai/WireImage

Actors’ roles are eternal. Their characters? Not so much. And Daniel Dae Kim learned that lesson the hard way.

Kim’s six-year run on ABC’s hit series Lost was cut short when his character, Jin, died unexpectedly in season 6. And Jin’s untimely demise was most unexpected for Kim’s son, the 47-year-old Hawaii Five-0 star reveals.

Kim, who is currently headlining Broadway’s The King and I, told PEOPLE in this week’s issue about the late-night phone call he received when his life, and death, on screen hit a little too close to home.

You mentioned that Jin’s death on Lost was confusing for your oldest son.
I take for granted the impact that television can have, because I work in it, and as grown-ups you learn to separate what you see on the screen from real life. But I was on hiatus and working on a project, and I got a call from my family at some strange hour. And my son was in tears because it turns out the episode of Lost where my character Jin dies on the submarine had broadcast, and I wasn’t home at the time and my son was worried.

How old was he?
He was about 13. He had just seen me die, and it was so traumatic for him that he started crying uncontrollably. So my wife called me to say, “Please talk to him because he really misses you.” We started talking and he was telling me about it and he asked me if I was okay, and I was like, “Yeah, I’m alright, it’s just TV.”

And that was pre-FaceTime so all he could hear was your voice …
Yeah. So it’s a testament to the power of television and what you see on screen. Ever since then, though, whenever I’m offered a role, the first thing he asks me is, “Do you die?” And the funny thing is, I die all the time – and in The King and I, I die again!

Now you’re just messing with his mind! Does he still ask you that at 19 years old?
Yeah, he still asks. That’s the first question: “Do you die?” And I’ll say, “No I don’t die in this one, but I do die in this.” He encourages me to take roles where I don’t die.

So he’ll be the first to know if your character kicks the bucket.
Exactly.

Kim is appearing in The King and I at Lincoln Center’s Vivian Beaumont Theater through June 26.