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On 'Board From O.C. to the Mall

October 20, 1995|JEFF YIP | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

From thrasher to actor playing opposite Shannen Doherty would be an E ticket in anyone's book. (That's thrasher as in skateboard ace.) Meet Jason Lee, who has pulled it off.

Not bad for a self-confessed goof-off who was once voted class clown of Ocean View High School in Huntington Beach.

Lee plays Brodie, a Sega-noid, comic-book-loving slacker who is Doherty's insensitive but endearingly goofy boyfriend in "Mallrats," the new movie by Kevin Smith ("Clerks"). "As soon as I read the script," he says, "I could relate to it.

"I always liked joking around, playing around in school and goofing off. I'd go to the principal's office a lot for mouthing off at a teacher, but all in good fun. It was just to make the other kids laugh."

He was relatively inexperienced an as actor (at 25, he only had done two music videos and a commercial) but in school he and his skate-bored friends "would do little skits in the hallway, and people would crowd around to watch. We'd mock the people we thought were funny at our school--all the jocks."

Ironically, Lee's mastery of skateboarding catapulted him to jock status. He started skateboarding at 13, and five years later he was competing in Europe, Asia and Australia. Chris Olsen, who works at a skateboard shop in the San Fernando Valley, says Lee is known for his "presence" and flawless tricks.

A few years ago, Lee moved from Huntington Beach to Los Angeles "because it's a lot bigger. And there's a lot more to it. The apartment I live in, you won't find that in Huntington Beach."

Beyond that, L.A. "has people who are interesting. They want to do something with their art. When I was growing up in Orange County, all people did was work, or skateboard, or drink beer, go to parties. So many people I've met [in L.A.] have a passion for doing something creative."

That sort of passion led him to acting, which he intends to pursue. He has already finished work in another Smith comedy, in which he "plays more of a serious, sour guy. There were scenes where I just had to go nuts. It was totally different than Brodie, and I felt really good about it."

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