Actor Jason Lee has accomplished a lot in his professional career. But lately, he hasn’t been acting. He hasn’t been on screen in anything, outside of a cameo in 2019’s Jay and Silent Bob reboot, since another brief appearance 2017. He hasn’t had a major role in anything since 2015, and it looks like there are currently no acting gigs booked in Jason Lee’s future.
What happened to Jason Lee? Why has he totally dropped off the map? We have the answer. Here’s where Jason Lee has been and here’s where he’s going.
JASON LEE: PROFESSIONAL SKATEBOARDER
Kickflips and tailslides. Backside flips and 360 flips, which were once described as the best in the business. Yes, Jason Lee was a professional skateboarder. He learned his tricks of the trade in Huntington Beach, California, skating into the sport in the late ‘80s. But he wasn’t just a pure skateboarder. He also became a skateboarding entrepreneur. In the early ‘90s he teamed up with fellow skateboarder Chris Pastras to launch Blue Skateboards and shortly thereafter they turned Blue into Stereo Skateboards.
Jason Lee’s skateboarding was featured in the Spike Jonze skateboard short Video Days. His portion can be seen below.
If you have some time and wish to see more of Jason Lee in skateboarding action, here’s a 23-minute YouTube video of his antics.
JASON LEE: PROFESSIONAL ACTOR
Jason Lee went from professional skateboarding to professional acting. While he was still in his skateboarding persona, Lee crossed over into some minor roles. His first major role was in the 1995 Kevin Smith movie Mallrats. It was a lead role for him, one that jump-started his acting career. It also started a great friendship with Smith which led to Jason Lee starring in many more Kevin Smith films such as Chasing Amy, Dogma, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Clerks II, Cop Out, and even Jay and Silent Bob Reboot.
With Jason Lee’s acting career covering close to 30 years, he has been in some notable productions besides what Kevin Smith had to offer. Perhaps Lee is best known for his role as Earl Hickey in the TV series My Name Is Earl. The funny series ran for four seasons and told the story of Earl, who after winning $100,000 in the lottery, decides to right all his wrongs of the past.
The series also starred a wonderful Jaime Pressly as his ex-wife Joy and a just as hilarious Ethan Suplee as his brother Randy. The series brought major recognition to Lee as he received two Golden Globe nominations for Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy and a nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series by the Screen Actors Guild.
Of course, there was much more. Jason Lee also portrayed Dave Seville in the Alvin and the Chipmunks franchise which included Alvin and the Chipmunks, Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel, Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, and Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip.
Jason Lee had other accomplishments in film. He was in the TV series’ Up All Night, Raising Hope, and Men at Work. He lent his vocal talents to shows such as American Dad!, We Bare Bears, and also the We Bare Bears: The Movie. So, you can count professional skateboarder and professional actor among Jason Lee’s talents. But it doesn’t stop there. You can now also consider him a professional photographer.
ABANDONING ACTING FOR PHOTOGRAPHY
It began a little over a decade ago, when Jason Lee started taking road trips, bringing along with him a few cameras. He told Vanity Fair in a 2018 interview, “I was just kind of aimlessly roaming California, and then I started exploring Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Texas.”
He first mentions this because it was finally Texas where Lee settled down with his family, wife Ceren and their five kids, Pilot, Sonny, Casper, Alberta, and Edith. He is truly a family man and when not playing that role, he can typically be found out on the road, capturing life as he sees it, mainly with vintage cameras and lenses.
Again, he told Vanity Fair, “I tend to be sort of nostalgic, very sentimental,” Lee explains. “There is definitely some nostalgia for road-tripping, being out on the road, exploring parts of America that you’ve not seen before, the memories that come to mind from childhood, or even from cinema.” He is always on the hunt for that perfect spot to shoot. No longer does he roll around with skateboards, the camera replacing his once favorite tool. “One hundred percent. The camera has basically just replaced the skateboard.”
His photography has now garnered some attention. It was seen in a solo exhibition at the Philbrook Museum of Art in Tulsa, Oklahoma. This happened back in 2018 and was quite a success for the skateboarder-turned actor-turned professional photographer. His passion for photography has also rubbed off on his eldest, Pilot Inspektor Lee. So much so that his son even filmed a mini documentary about his father’s process in photography. “He shoots Super 8 film, 16 millimeter, and digital video. He’s super hooked,” said Lee to Vanity Fair. “That pale blue sky and the cotton clouds. He knew to overexpose his video and get that flatter look. I’m really proud of him.”
JASON LEE NOW
Does Jason Lee ever have intend to return to acting? He’s spoken of how he’d love to give his Earl fans some closure on that series as it ended in a cliff-hanger. He also expressed his desire too get back in front of the camera sooner rather than later.
“Relatively soon, I want to switch that part of my brain back on and get trucking,” he confessed. “It sounds stupid, but I’m just proud to have just been able to do it in general…. I never considered myself to be a tremendous actor, by any means. And so you just try to have fun with it.”
So maybe we will see a little more of Earl in the near future. If not, maybe Jason Lee will find another medium to become professional in.