What Jason Lee’s Been Up To Since He Stepped Out Of The Spotlight

Jason Lee is a jack of all trades, working as an actor, director, comedian, skateboarder, writer, photographer, and more. Best known for his role as Earl Hickey on the television show My Name is Earl, Lee has appeared in a number of films and shows, usually playing a comedic character. However, over the past years, Lee has stepped out of the limelight to focus on the things that he finds the most important in his life. Check out what he’s been up to.

He Directed A Music Video For Beck

Lee, his wife, and Beck during
SGranitz/WireImage
SGranitz/WireImage

In 2003, Jason Lee was chosen to be the director of the music video for Beck’s track, “Lonesome Tears.” Working on the video helped open the doors of directing for Lee, allowing him to get creative behind the camera, rather than in front of it.

After the project with Beck was completed, Lee had caught the directing bug and wrote on his website that he intended to “make something more ‘official’ with his Bolex 16 mm camera.”

The Music Video Helped Inspire A Short Film

Jason Lee and Giovanni Ribisi
J. Vespa/WireImage
J. Vespa/WireImage

Lee claims that the direction he took with Beck’s music video helped to inspire the creation of his own short film titled The White Door. The short film starred Giovanni Ribisi and Beth Riesgraf.

His relationship with Beck not only helped push him to pursue directing and test his talents, but it also provided him with some crucial connections. Before long, Lee was directing multiple music videos for the American folk-rock band, Midlake.

Scientology Put A Strain On His Marriage

Jason lee and wife attend Entertainment Tonight
Tommaso Boddi/WireImage
Tommaso Boddi/WireImage

In 1995, Jason Lee married his first wife, Carmen Llywelyn, an actress and photographer. Throughout their marriage, Lee made a point to get Llywelyn involved with the Church of Scientology, a religion that was a big part of his life.

However, the couple divorced just six years later after Llywelyn admitted that she had read the anti-Scientology book A Piece of Blue Sky. She was then labeled as a “Suppressive Person” by the church, lost her manager, and not long after, Lee began divorce proceedings.

He Began Dating Again

Lee and Riesgraf at screening of War of the Worlds
Mark Mainz/Getty Images
Mark Mainz/Getty Images

Then, from 2001 to 2007, Lee became romantically involved with actress Beth Jean Riesgraf. The couple bore a son named Pilot Inspektor Riesgraf-Lee in 2003, and soon after the couple was engaged. Riesgraf was also involved in the show My Name is Earl, acting as the character Natalie Duckworth.

In the end, the two never were officially married, and it was assumed that it had to do with Lee’s deep devotion to the Church of Scientology once again.

He’s Done His Share Of Voice Acting

Syndrome from The Incredibles
Buena Vista Pictures
Buena Vista Pictures

Although some people may not have realized it, just one year before making his debut as Earl Hickey on My Name is Earl, he provided the voice behind the antagonist Syndrome in Disney’s The Incredibles.

It was the first time that Lee had ever lent his voice on-screen, and his character turned out to be a massive success along with the rest of the film.

He’s The Father Of The Chipmunks

Lee and the chipmunks in costume
Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images
Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images

In 2007, Lee took a break from playing the goofy Earl Hickey to take up the live-action role of Dave Seville, the adoptive father of the animated chipmunks in the Alvin and the Chipmunks Movie. He played the role again in the follow-up video game.

Incredibly, the film actually did well in the box office, raking in $361 million worldwide. It also led to the development of three sequels: Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel, Alvin, and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, and Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip.

Other Voice Acting Gigs

Charlie from We Bare Bears
Cartoon Network
Cartoon Network

After the incredible success of The Incredibles, Lee reprised the role of the film’s villain in The Incredibles video game, the video short titled Jack-Jack Attack, and the Disney Infinity video game franchise.

Lee must enjoy doing voice acting as the antagonist characters, as he is also regularly featured on the Cartoon Network animated series We Bare Bears. In the show, Lee plays the villainous role of Charlie, a Bigfoot-like character.

Testing Out New Characters

Lee as a detective in Memphis Beat
TNT
TNT

After NBC’s My Name is Earl came to an end, Jason Lee took up a role that few people expected. For the most part, Lee had been cast as eccentric and humorous characters, but in 2010, that all changed.

He took up a different kind of role in the brief TNT series, Memphis Beat. In the series, Lee played a detective of the Memphis Police Department named Dwight Hendrix. During the day, he’s on the beat, however, at night, he works as an Elvis impersonator.

Onto The Next

Jason Lee in Up All Night
NBC
NBC

Unfortunately, Memphis Beat wasn’t as successful as anticipated and the show was canceled after just two seasons. Shortly after the Memphis Beat had ended, Lee made his way back to NBC where he would play the recurring role as Kevin on the sitcom Up All Night starring Will Arnett and Christina Applegate.

During his time on the show, he was featured in seven episodes. However, he took a permanent hiatus halfway through season 2 before the show was canceled.

Stepping Away From Scientology

Lee and Alkac at the Academy Awards Viewing Party
Jamie McCarthy/WireImage
Jamie McCarthy/WireImage

Jason Lee had been a devout Scientologist for more than two decades, with his dedication to the religion resulting in the failure of two of his romantic relationships. It was even speculated that his second wife Ceren Alkac also left him due to his involvement with the church.

However, these suspicions turned out to be nothing but rumors. In fact, the couple didn’t break up because of Scientology but even decided to leave the Church of Scientology together.

Moving To Denton, Texas

Lee with his family at Stand Up For Skateparks
Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images
Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images

It was later revealed in a 2016 interview with The Dentonite that the couple began to stray away from Scientology around the same time they moved to Denton, Texas with their three children.

In the interview, Lee noted that, “We’re not here to buy up or change or take over Denton, put some kind of personal stamp on it […] “We’re just here like anyone else who wants to be a part of Denton’s very cool creative community, and to be involved and perhaps help where we can.”

The Potential For A Sitcom

Earl and Milano on My Name Is Earl
NBC
NBC

Actress Alyssa Milano was featured in ten episodes of My Name is Earl as Billie Cunningham, Earl Hickey’s criminal wife. The two had such great chemistry on screen that the executives at CBS had a bright idea during the 2016-2017 season.

They ordered a sitcom between the two to be filmed under the titled What Goes Around, Comes Around. Although the duo definitely had the potential to make the sitcom a hit, unfortunately, the show never made it past the pilot stage.

He Owes A Lot To Kevin Smith

Jason Lee in Mallrats
Gramercy Pictures
Gramercy Pictures

It’s no secret that Jason Lee owes a lot of his early success in his early career to actor and director Kevin Smith, especially when it comes to the film Mallrats which really helped to kick start Lee’s career.

So, fans of the film were ecstatic in 2015 when Smith announced that a sequel to the cult film was underway. He tweeted, “20 years in the making. 113 pages fulla old friends & new jokes. This is for you, Jim. Wish you were here. #MallBrats”

The Sequel Crashed And Burned

Lee at the Premier of Away and Back
Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic
Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic

Jason Lee was going to reprise his role as Brody Bruce in Mallrats. However, there were some complications and although the sequel was meant to be released in theaters, that wasn’t the case. Apparently, getting the rights back from Universal proved to be more difficult than thought.

However, instead of giving up, Smith improvised and pitched the idea for television. At that point, it seemed that Lee would still make his return, but even though the show was pitched to six different networks, none were interested.

He’s A Skateboarder At Heart

Lee at the Transworld skateboarding awards
Marsaili McGrath/Getty Images for Transworld Skate Magazines
Marsaili McGrath/Getty Images for Transworld Skate Magazines

Prior to becoming a major actor, Jason Lee was a professional skateboarder, although he hung up his board in 1995. However, although he may have left the skateboarding world, he still kept one old-school partnership In 1992, he came together with his good friend Chris Pastras to create the brand Stereo Skateboards.

Lee went on to take a break from skateboarding for eight years but brought the company back to life in 2003. The company is known for its unique aesthetic and love for music and filmmaking.

He Is A Talented Photographer

Jason Lee taking a picture
Amy Graves/WireImage
Amy Graves/WireImage

In October 2015, Lee published a series of Polaroid and Fuji instant photos that were released in a special issue of Refueled Magazine. Although there were only 500 copies, each of them was signed by Lee and quickly sold out.

Since then, Lee has also had two successful photo exhibitions in Austin, Texas, which inspired him to team up with Refuel once again in 2017 to publish his release “A Plain View.” The project was the first for the Instagram and photography group Film Photographic, which was founded by Lee in 2015.

He Likes Being Behind The Camera

Lee giving a thumbs up
Gregg DeGuire/FilmMagic
Gregg DeGuire/FilmMagic

In recent years, Lee has been devoting most of his time to his offscreen passions. On his website, he notes that he is planning on bringing his love for shooting Polaroid film to the big screen in a documentary from Greg Hunt.

He is also currently working on a photo book and a skateboarding film, proving his mastery of several mediums. He’s made it very clear that he’s in the process of shifting his focus from the bright lights of Hollywood to focusing on what he loves.

He’s Been Involved With Tony Hawk

Jason Lee and Tony Hawk
Tommaso Boddi/WireImage
Tommaso Boddi/WireImage

Being a former professional skateboarder, Jason Lee has a lot of connections to the skateboarding industry, including being good friends with Tony Hawk. In 2012, he participated in the ninth annual Stand-Up for Skateparks Event run by Tony Hawk.

The foundation helps to provide underprivileged children with skateparks in their area. On top of that, Lee was also involved with the development of the video game “Skate 3” with Tony Hawk, voicing the character of himself and Coach Frank.

He Helps Raise Awareness For Cancer

Jason Lee at Young Hollywood
Alyse Gilbert/Young Hollywood/FilmMagic
Alyse Gilbert/Young Hollywood/FilmMagic

In October 2012, a video was released by the Keep A Breast Foundation. The short film featured several skateboarders including Lee and his business partner Pastras, among other professionals. The Foundation’s goal is to raise awareness about breast cancer, even selling popular bracelets in which the proceeds go towards cancer research.

The film also featured Clint Peterson and Giovanna Reda, who are both skateboarding teammates on Lee’s skateboarding company, Stereo Skateboards. Together, they managed to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars.

He’s The Co-Owner Of A Restaurant

Lee at a movie premier
Barry King/FilmMagic
Barry King/FilmMagic

In 2015, Jason Lee became the co-owner of the Barley and Board, a restaurant/bar located in the downtown square of Denton, Texas. The restaurant is the creation of John “Sparky” Pearson, Eric Pulido of the indie group Midlake, and Lee.

The menu is designed to be paired with beer with the menu heavily relying on snack-based food items. The restaurant is also noted for its vegetarian-friendly options, drawing in a diverse crowd from around the area.