Jason Lee: skateboarder to star of 'Memphis Beat'

Mon, Jun 13

Jason Lee, known for his role as the title character of "My Name is Earl" and currently the star of the TNT series "Memphis Beat," didn't get the acting bug as a youth.

In fact, the 41-year-old Lee got into acting as a hobby.

He already was a big-time California pro skateboarder in his 20s. He and legendary star Tony Hawk were the first two skateboaders to get signature shoes, and Lee also has appeared in several skateboarding video games.

Then, after some bit roles here and there, Lee wanted to branch out and see what acting in movies and TV would really be like.

"I had this innocent curiosity to see how they made movies and TV shows," Lee said. "I knew that skateboarding was my profession and acting was just a hobby. It wasn't a destiny of mine."

Now, 20 years later, Lee has flipped the script and now is known mostly as an actor and just an occasional skateboarder.

"I started with some bit parts, did some voice over work, became friends and worked with actor/director Kevin Smith, did some comedy and did some drama," Lee said. "I never really worked at the craft of acting. I just go out there and challenge myself, like I did on a skateboard. But because of my success on the board, it gave me some confidence in my new world of acting."

And he's back for Season 2 of "Memphis Beat," an original drama on TNT, which returns Tuesday. The show centers on Lee's character, Dwight Hendricks, a quirky police detective with a deep connection to the city, a passion for the blues and a close relationship with his mother. Lee said, "It's a completely different take on the cop show, and that's why I love it."

And Lee isn't looking past this show to other projects -- unlike other working actors.

"I'm not one of those guys who thinks about his next gig," Lee said. "I don't worry about the next paycheck. I just go where ever I'm going to go."