A puppy-eyed professional skateboarder turned actor, Jason Lee has proven himself as versatile and engaging onscreen as he once did as a skater who turned 360-degree flips on the half-pipe. Discovered by director Kevin Smith, who gave him his first break with a lead role in Mallrats (1995), Lee went on to win over critics and audiences with his portrayals of men who often harbored some degree of endearing immaturity and/or sweet-natured dorkiness. In the process, he created a reputation for himself as one of the more talented and underrated actors to emerge from the 1990s indie scene, eventually beginning to earn mainstream acceptance with his casting in such successes as Smith's Dogma (1999) and Cameron Crowe's Almost Famous (2000).
A native of Orange, CA, Lee began skateboarding when he was 13. Five years later he had gone professional, traveling the world, appearing in a number of popular skateboarding videos, and, along with a friend, founding the company Stereo Skateboards and Stereo Sounds Clothing. Deciding to retire from skateboarding before he became too old for the sport and went to seed, Lee made his first foray into acting in 1993 with a walk-on role in Allison Anders' Mi Vida Loca. Two years later he auditioned for and won the lead role of Brodie, a wise-ass slacker, in Kevin Smith's Mallrats (1995). Although the film received a critical thrashing, Lee did earn positive notices for his work in it, and was further rewarded with a lead part in Smith's Chasing Amy (1997). Cast as comic-book artist Banky, best friend and partner of Ben Affleck's Holden, the actor earned an Independent Spirit Award for his smart-assed yet deeply felt portrayal, and subsequently crossed over into more mainstream work with a bit part in the Will Smith suspense thriller Enemy of the State (1998) and a lead in the flop romantic comedy Kissing a Fool (1998), in which he starred with David Schwimmer and Mili Avital.