"I'd love to establish relationships with other writer-directors, too, but
Chasing Amy (1997) is what got things going for me, and I'll always stick by
Kevin." Jason Lee.
A professional skateboarder turned actor, Jason Lee was widely recognized while
portraying Ben Affleck’s best friend, comic book artist Banky Edwards, in Kevin
Smith’s Chasing Amy (1997). The actor who was first noticed while playing Jeremy
London’s best friend Brodie Bruce in Mallrats (1995), Lee attracted the
filmgoers’ attention for acting in such films as Mumford (1999), Dogma (1999),
Almost Famous (2000) and Vanilla Sky (2001). As for his recent films, Lee
appeared in A Guy Thing (2003), Jersey Girl (2004) and The Ballad of Jack and
Jason Lee, sometimes credited as Dennis Pepper or Linus Peacock, is engaged with
actress Beth Riesgraf, who gave him a son. He also has married once, to actress
Carmen Lee. As for his upcoming film works, Lee will soon appear in Monster
House and Southland Tales, also slated for 2006 release.
Childhood and Family:
Born in Orange, California on April 25, 1970, Jason Lee then was raised in
Huntington Beach. He started skateboarding when he was five and left his study
at the Ocean View High School in Huntington Beach, California to be a
professional skateboarder. At 18 years old, he has traveled around the world to
compete in international championships and made the "360 flip” movement famous.
Along with his friend Chris Pastras, Lee opened a new business venture, Stereo
Skateboards and Stereo Sounds Clothing. He also appeared in several popular
skateboarding videos and was mentioned several times in the autobiography of
skating legend Tony Hawk, "Hawk: Occupation Skateboarder".
In July 1995, Jason Lee tied the knot with actress Carmen Lee, but separated in
July 2001. The couple was eventually filed for divorced in 2002. Sharing with
his fiancé actress Beth Riesgraf, Lee has one son, Pilot Inspektor Riesgraf-Lee
(born on September 28, 2003).
“…Because I wasn't skateboarding as much. I wasn't interested. I didn't have it
in me, and I thought, "I don't want to milk this thing. I'm just going to end it
now." A lot of ex-pro skaters still skate, still hang out with skaters, still
have some kind of an involvement in skateboarding ? I didn't have that in me. I
burnt out completely.” Jason Lee.
Formerly a professional skateboarder who was offered a shoe deal from Airwalk,
Jason Lee shifted to acting by appearing as a skateboarder in Sonic Youth video
"100 Percent" (directed by Spike Jonze). He subsequently got the tiny part of a
teenage drug customer in Allison Anders’ My Crazy Life (a.k.a. Mi vida loca,
1993) and splashed on the FOX’s series, Mantis (1994) and Melrose Place (1995).
Well-meaning slacker Brodie Bruce, Jeremy London’s best friend, in Kevin Smith's
Mallrats (1995) was Lee’s first starring role. He followed it up with another
leading part of five slackers leader Donner, in Matt Gissing and Malcolm
Ingram’s comedy Drawing Files (1996). He also rejoined filmmaker Kevin Smith in
his comedy Chasing Amy (1997), playing Ben Affleck’s best friend, comic book
artist Banky Edwards. The film received applause at the Independent Spirit
Awards and handed him Best Supporting Male winner.
After appearing on the HBO crime comedy movie Weapons of Mass Distraction
(1997), Lee costarred Robert DiPatri and Eion Bailey in Vincent Pereira’ A
Better Place (also in 1997). In the next year, he became David Schwimmer’s best
friend Jay Murphy, in Doug Ellin’s romantic comedy Kissing a Fool and flew to
French to star in Jean-Yves Pitoun’s comedy American Cuisine (a.k.a. Cuisine
The late of the 1990s saw Jason Lee shared the screen with Will Smith and Gene
Hackman in Tony Scott’s suspense thriller Enemy of the State (playing the
supporting role of Daniel Leon Zavitz) and reunited with director/writer Kavin
Smith and actor Ben Affleck in the comedy Dogma, playing satanic Azrael. He also
worked with Loren Dean and Hope Davis in writer/director Lawrence Kasdan’s
comedy Mumford, as the oddball young billionaire Skip Skipperton.
"I wanted to be very serious about being a musician -- a guy who cares a lot
about the music and the band and why we did it in the first place. We wanted to
show an actual passion on stage with the intent of turning on the audience."
Jason Lee (on his role in Almost Famous).
In 2000, moviegoers remembered him as the lead singer of the '70s rock band
Stillwater, Jeff Bebe, in Cameron Crowe's musical comedy Almost Famous
(alongside Patrick Fugit, Billy Crudup and Kate Hudson). Afterwards, he became
Jennifer Love Hewitt’s love interest, young bartender Jack Withrowe, in David
Mirkin’s romantic comedy Heartbreakers and rejoined Kevin Smith in his comedy
Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (Smith also starred in the film). Moreover,
director Cameron Crowe cast him again, this time as Tom Cruise’s best friend,
Brian Shelby, in his sci-fi romance movie, Vanilla Sky (also starring Penelope
Cruz and Cameron Diaz).
Following his appearance in Barry Sonnenfeld’s film version of the Pulitzer
Prize-winning humorist Dave Barry's best-selling novel, Big Trouble (2002,
starring Tim Allen), Lee starred as Tom Green’s practical, hard working best
friend, John Plummer, in Bruce McCulloch’s comedy Stealing Harvard (2002,
opposite Leslie Mann). Subsequently, he became Selma Blair’s fiancé Paul Coleman
in Chris Koch’s romantic comedy A Guy Thing (costarring Julia Stiles) and played
clownish Joe 'Beaver' Clarenden in Lawrence Kasdan adaptation of Stephen King’s
sci-fi thriller novel, Dreamcatcher (opposite Morgan Freeman). Meanwhile, he
appeared in writer/director Adam Goldberg’s drama I Love Your Work (starring
Giovanni Ribisi and Franka Potente).
Recently in 2004, Lee teamed with Kevin Smith and Ben Affleck again in the drama
comedy Jersey Girl and appeared in the compilation of interviews and music
videos of New York City band Sonic Youth, Sonic Youth Video Dose (TV) as well as
provided his voice in the animated The Incredibles. He also played roles in the
2005 films, Rebecca Miller’s The Ballad of Jack and Rose (starring Daniel
Day-Lewis and Camilla Belle) and Michael Philip’s comedy Drop Dead Sexy, and
lent his voice in the animated Jack-Jack Attack.
Jason Lee’s fans will soon watch him in his upcoming films, Gil Kenan’s family
horror Monster House and Richard Kelly’s musical comedy Southland Tales.
Independent Spirit: Best Supporting Male, Chasing Amy, 1998