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Jason Lee

Jason Lee

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Also Known As: Jason Michael Lee Died:
Born: April 25, 1970 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Orange, California, USA Profession: actor, director, screenwriter, musician, businessman, skateboarder

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Though he started his career as a professional skateboarder, Jason Lee managed to accomplish that rare feat of transitioning from successful athlete to successful actor. But unlike most sports stars making the jump, he was armed with strong acting chops and an easy-going charm. After making a few music videos with director and fellow skateboarding enthusiast Spike Jonze, Lee broke into features by starring in indie-filmmaker Kevin Smith's "Mallrats" (1995). He quickly graduated to more prominent features, earning critical kudos and Internet fandom while maintaining a relatively low-key mainstream profile. Over the next several years, he was a regular Smith player, appearing in "Chasing Amy" (1997), "Dogma" (1999) and "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back" (2001), while branching out to studio fare like "Enemy of the State" (1998) and "Vanilla Sky" (2001). Lee went from prominent supporting actor to television star when he landed his first series, "My Name Is Earl" (NBC, 2005-09), a blunt and irreverent comedy in which he effortlessly portrayed a dimwitted petty thief trying to right the wrongs of his life. While never a ratings winner, "Earl" nonetheless offered Lee an opportunity to demonstrate his...

Though he started his career as a professional skateboarder, Jason Lee managed to accomplish that rare feat of transitioning from successful athlete to successful actor. But unlike most sports stars making the jump, he was armed with strong acting chops and an easy-going charm. After making a few music videos with director and fellow skateboarding enthusiast Spike Jonze, Lee broke into features by starring in indie-filmmaker Kevin Smith's "Mallrats" (1995). He quickly graduated to more prominent features, earning critical kudos and Internet fandom while maintaining a relatively low-key mainstream profile. Over the next several years, he was a regular Smith player, appearing in "Chasing Amy" (1997), "Dogma" (1999) and "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back" (2001), while branching out to studio fare like "Enemy of the State" (1998) and "Vanilla Sky" (2001). Lee went from prominent supporting actor to television star when he landed his first series, "My Name Is Earl" (NBC, 2005-09), a blunt and irreverent comedy in which he effortlessly portrayed a dimwitted petty thief trying to right the wrongs of his life. While never a ratings winner, "Earl" nonetheless offered Lee an opportunity to demonstrate his versatility as an actor.

Born on April 25, 1970 in Huntington Beach, CA, Lee knew from the time he was five years old that he would be a skateboarder. He began skating at 13, dropped out of high school his senior year and became a professional boarder by the time he was 18. Lee quickly rose in fame and glory, thanks in part to his signature move, the 360 flip, where he would flip and catch his board under his feet mid-jump - a modest, but tricky move. In 1992, he formed his own company, Stereo Skateboards, with friend Chris Pastras, only to leave the skateboarding world behind soon after. Fearing that he might become another washed up boarder glomming on to his fast-fading youth, Lee decided to pursue an acting career. After becoming one of the first skateboarders to be officially sponsored by Airwalk, a top footwear company for boarders, he began appearing in music videos and commercials directed by Spike Jonze, including "100%" by Sonic Youth. Lee made his film debut with a cameo alongside Jonze in the indie-made gang drama, "Mi Vida Loca" (1993).

But it was his collaboration with filmmaker Kevin Smith that marked the true start of Lee's onscreen career. He had his first major film role in Smith's second film effort, "Mallrats" (1995), playing Brodie, a videogame-addicted slacker who is dumped by his girlfriend and goes to the mall with his best friend (Jeremy London), where they hatch a plot to sabotage a television game show filming there. Not as vitriolic or daring as Smith's debut, "Clerks" (1994), "Mallrats" suffered from being rather ordinary and pointless. After the ultra-low budget comedy "Drawing Flies" (1996), Lee had a meatier role in Smith's next feature, "Chasing Amy" (1997), playing Banky, the creator of a cult comic book who is enjoying its success with his best friend and illustrator, Holden (Ben Affleck). But when Holden chases after Alyssa (Joey Lauren Adams), another comic book artist who is also a lesbian, their friendship is put to the test - Holden decides to pursue Alyssa despite her sexuality, while Banky becomes increasingly jealous of their relationship. In "Kissing A Fool" (1998), Lee played a novelist spurned by his girlfriend (Vanessa Angel) who sets up his best friend, Max (David Schwimmer), with his book editor (Mili Avital) only to learn in hindsight it was a mistake.

After an appearance as a doomed computer hacker in "Enemy of the State" (1998), Lee played Loren, a Navy chef thrown out of the service for assaulting a superior unappreciative of his cooking in "American Cuisine" (1998). In the snappy, but ultimately superficial romantic comedy, "Mumford" (1999), he was a successful Internet mogul looking to be loved for more than his money. Joining forces with Smith once again, Lee had a supporting role for the director's overbearing religious satire, "Dogma" (1999), playing Azrael, a muse cast to hell who tries to wipe out human existence by trying to get two fallen angels (Ben Affleck and Matt Damon) back into heaven. He next had a turn as the egotistical lead singer of the fictional Stillwater Band in Cameron Crowe's semi-autobiographical coming-of-age drama, "Almost Famous" (2000). Lee reunited with Crowe for the director's next film, "Vanilla Sky" (2001), playing the best friend and loyal doormat of a wealthy publisher (Tom Cruise), to whom he loses his soul mate (Penelope Cruz) after bringing her to a party. In "Jay and Silent Bob Strikes Back" (2001), Lee revived Banky from "Chasing Amy" in what many deemed to be one of Kevin Smith's worst films.

By this time, Lee was well-established as a character actor of note; one who could even turn in solid performances in movies not directed by Kevin Smith. In "Heartbreakers" (2001), he was a beachfront bartender who falls prey to a mother-daughter con artist team (Sigourney Weaver and Jennifer Love Hewitt), while in "Stealing Harvard" (2002) he was an affable nice guy convinced by his best friend (Tom Green) and life-long bad influence to engage in petty crime to make a down payment on his dream house. Lee followed by making appearances in more supporting roles, including in the ensemble caper comedy "Big Trouble" (2002) and the obscure vanity indie, "I Love Your Work" (2003). In the romantic comedy of errors "A Guy Thing" (2003), Lee was a bridegroom determined not to do anything bad at his bachelor party, only to wake up next to a nude Becky, the strange girl (Julia Stiles) he met the night before. One lie begets another as he gets trapped in a never-ending web of fibs with his fiancée (Selma Blair) while coming to realize that Becky might actually be the one.

After playing one of four childhood friends who reunite for a hunting trip that is interrupted by an alien invasion in the forgettable adaptation of Stephen King's "Dreamcatcher" (2003), Lee made a brief appearance as a public relations executive in "Jersey Girl" (2004), his fifth collaboration with Smith. He ventured off the beaten path for his next film, voicing Buddy Pine - a.k.a. Syndrome - a former boyhood fan-turned- nemesis in the animated blockbuster, "The Incredibles" (2004). Turning to television, Lee became a household name as the star of his first series, "My Name Is Earl." Lee portrayed petty thief and all around lowlife, Earl J. Hickey, who wins the lottery and has a karmic revelation to make a list of everyone he has wronged in his life. With the help of his dimwitted brother (Ethan Suplee) and trailer-trash ex-wife (Jaime Pressly), Earl sets about rectifying the past, whether anyone wants him to or not. A hit with critics when it first aired, "My Name Is Earl" received fair ratings over its four adventurous seasons. Lee received the lion's share of praise, earning consecutive Golden Globe nominations for Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series in 2006 and 2007.

While maintaining a busy schedule with "Earl," Lee managed to remain active in feature films. After voicing Bones in the animated "Monster House" (2006), he teamed with Smith yet again for "Clerks II" (2006), the director's failed attempt at returning to former glory, and voiced the lead in the animated "Underdog" (2007). He next starred in the live action-CGI combo, "Alvin and the Chipmunks" (2007), playing a caricature of real-life songwriter and Chipmunk creator, Dave Seville. Though not a hit with critics by any stretch, "Alvin and the Chipmunks became a surprise success during a holiday season devoid of family fare. The $200 million take at the box office assured a second offering with "Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakuel" (2009).

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

2.
 Lost in Austin (2015)
3.
 Good Ol' Boy (2015)
4.
 Tell (2014)
5.
 Columbus Circle (2012)
7.
 Cop Out (2010)
9.
 Underdog (2007)
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Appeared in Sonic Youth video "100 Percent" as a skateboarder
1994:
Appeared on an episode of "MANTIS" (Fox)
1995:
Appeared on an episode of "Melrose Place" (Fox)
1995:
Feature film debut, Kevin Smith directed comedy "Mallrats"
1997:
Made first TV film, "Weapons of Mass Destruction" (HBO)
1997:
Worked for director Kevin Smith again in "Chasing Amy"
1999:
Played a skateboarding millionnaire in Lawrence Kasdan's "Mumford"
1999:
Appeared as the demon Azreal in Smith's "Dogma"
2000:
Featured as a touring rock musician in Cameron Crowe's semi-autobiographical feature "Almost Famous"
2001:
Played a bartender targeted by a young con woman (Jennifer Love Hewitt) in "Heartbreakers"
2001:
Acted in Kevin Smith's "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back"
2001:
Reunited with director Cameron Crowe as co-star of "Vanilla Sky," playing the novelist best friend of a wealthy playboy (Tom Cruise)
2002:
Acted in "Stealing Harvard" with Tom Green
2003:
Starred in the comedy "A Guy Thing"
2004:
Had a small role as a PR executive in Kevin Smith's "Jersey Girl"
2004:
Voiced Buddy Pine/Syndrome in the Pixar animated feature "The Incredibles"
2005:
Made series regular debut as the star and producer of "My Name Is Earl" (NBC); earned Golden Globe (2006, 2007) and SAG (2006, 2007) nominations for Best Actor in a Comedy series; nominated for TV - Choice Actor: Comedy at the Teen Choice Awards (2006); nominated at the Kids' Choice Awards for Favorite Television Actor (2007, 2009)
2007:
Voiced the title character in the live-action version of the classic cartoon "Underdog"
2007:
Co-starred in Richard Kelly's ensemble film "Southland Tales"
2007:
Starred in the family film "Alvin and the Chipmunks"
2009:
Reprised role of Dave in "Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel"
2010:
Cast in a supporting role opposite Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan in "Cop Out"
2010:
Starred as a police detective who moonlights as an Elvis impersonator on TNT's "Memphis Beat"
2011:
Reprised role of Dave in "Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chip-Wrecked"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Notes

Not to be confused with actor Jason Scott Lee.

"I'm a person that skateboards, right? I'm not a skateboarder. I do movies, but I'm not an actor. It's just cool to have the opportunity. And if you play the roles you want, the money will come eventually."---Jason Lee in PREMIERE, October 1995.

"I've always been certain about how I want to do things, but at the same time the approach has always been very light. I don't think a lot about it. I don't ponder, I don't sit and wonder. For some people, acting is their passion. They study it. They go to school. They read plays. I've never read a play. I don't know who Chekhov is. You know what I mean? That's fine."---Jason Lee to Los Angeles Magazine, November 2002.

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Carmen Llwellyn. Actor, photographer. Married c. 1995; divorced.
companion:
Beth Riesgraf. Photographer. Engaged since August 2002.

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