Back in 2020, I had the pleasure of seeing Kevin Smith’s Jay and Silent Bob Reboot, which features a small cameo from actor Jason Lee, who got his start in acting on Smith’s Mallrats before appearing in another Smith film, Chasing Amy, which launched Lee’s career. Except that Lee’s acting career has been fairly nonexistent in recent years. In fact, because I do not watch Alvin and the Chipmunks films, the last time I’d probably seen Lee on screen was in his final appearance on Raising Hope in 2013. Outside of some animated voice work, Lee hadn’t done any television or movies between 2015 and his brief appearance on Jay and Silent Bob.
Meanwhile, I recently watched the pilot for My Name Is Earl and wondered again, “Where did Jason Lee go?” I’d remembered hearing him on a Nerdist podcast promoting a TV pilot for Amazon called Cocked in 2015, but that pilot didn’t go anywhere, and since then, Lee has more or less dropped off the face of the Earth?
Sort of. Jason Lee actually did leave California back in 2015, a few months after that failed pilot with Sam Trammel and the Nerdist podcast. He moved along with his wife, Ceren AlkaÃ§, and children to Denton, Texas, and if you’re wondering — and I know you are — he also quit Scientology, as he revealed to the Dentonite in 2016, in the context of putting to bed rumors that he was in Denton to buy up the town.
We don’t practice Scientology, and since we aren’t particularly interested in opening religious centers in general, we have no plans to open a Scientology center. Quite a few rumors about me/us floating around but none of it’s true. 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.
Lee does, however, own part of a restaurant called Barley & Board. While in Denton, Lee pursued a third career (after skateboarding and acting) in photography. He’s good. This is a portrait of his wife.
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A post shared by Jason Lee (@jasonlee) on Apr 23, 2020 at 10:32am PDT
More recently, it also appears that Lee has returned to Los Angeles with his family, based on the Instagram account that he shares with his wife. He is also the founder of an Instagram photo community — he’s serious about photography, and he’s very good.
As announced on Deadline today, it does appear that Lee will soon be returning to live-action television. He’s been cast alongside a hell of a cast — Uzo Aduba, Andre Braugher, Susan Kelechi Watson, Ken Marino, and even Bronson Pinchot — in the next Shondaland series, The Residence. Based on Kate Andersen Brower’s book The Residence: Inside the Private World of the White House, the eight-episode series is described as “a screwball whodunnit set in the upstairs, downstairs, and back stairs of the White House, among the eclectic staff of the world’s most famous mansion.” Lee plays the younger brother of the President, who is a screw-up.
If IMDb is to be believed, Lee is also set for Kevin Smith’s Mallrats sequel, Twilight of the Mallrats, although as with all Smith sequels, there is no timeline on it. Invariably it will get made. Along with his return to acting, Lee has also signed with new representation.
This post was originally published in 2020 but has been updated with the latest casting announcement.