Profile of Jason Scott Lee

Born: 19th November 1966
Star sign: Scorpio, Chinese: Year of the Horse
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California
Height: 1.8m
Weight: 175 pounds (12.5 stone/79kg)

Trailer for Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story

INFLUENCES

  • Bruce Lee, who inspired Jason to learn Jeet Kune Do after portraying him in Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story.
  • Japanese Agrarian Masonobu Fukuoka, whose natural method to farming has been the crux for Jason’s own farming. Jason keeps a photograph of Masonobu in his self-sufficient home in Hawaii.
  • Jason has also named his parents as huge influences in his life. “My mother’s compassion and my father’s tenacity were two things that combined in me,” he said of them.

TRAINING BACKGROUND

  • Prior to Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story, Jason had had no martial arts training, but began to practice Jeet Kune Do regularly after having spent some time training it.
  • He is now a certified instructor under Jerry Poteet, a former student of Bruce Lee.

BIOGRAPHY

  • Jason Scott Lee was born in Los Angeles, but moved to Honolulu, Hawaii at the age of two, where he grew up.
  • Although he had no formal martial arts training, Jason found a love for acting when he was studying at Fullerton College, by enrolling into extracurricular classes there. He kept himself fit with surfing and gymnastics.
  • After college, Jason applied for his first role and got the job: as an Asian immigrant in the film Born in East LA (1987). This opened up a few doors, but he still found getting work difficult because of the prejudices placed on Asian men working in Hollywood at the time. He landed a few roles in films such as Back to the Future Part II (1989), but it wasn’t until 1992 that Jason was selected to play a starring role, as an Eskimo in: Map of the Human Heart.
  • When auditioning for The Last of the Mohicans, Jason was spotted by the casting director. Although he didn’t get the role he auditioned for, the casting director recommended him for a new documentary based film called Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story (1993). This would be his break into fame, and his first serious taste of martial arts!
  • Jason trained in Jeet Kune Do, or Way of Intercepting Fist, the style that Bruce Lee founded, for just seven weeks before beginning filming. Nobody could guess how little he had practiced martial arts but portraying Bruce’s unique fighting style was something Jason adapted to with ease. The training was tough, however. “I remember being on my knees weeping for days and wondering how I was going to pull this off,” Jason said in a later interview.
  • During filming, Jason continued to train with one of Bruce Lee’s own students, Jerry Poteet. This enabled him not only to perform the role brilliantly, but also to be able to do most of his own stunts. Rob Cohen, Director of Dragon, later said that finding Jason to play the role was “a lot of luck.”
  • Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story won much critical acclaim, both from the martial arts world and the acting world. However, for Jason it was the spiritual awakening his felt that made the film so personally remarkable.
  •  Jason has starred in several critically acclaimed films since, including Rapa Noi (1994) and The Jungle Book the same year. However, the demands of the Hollywood life were eventually not for him. After spending some time with “one foot in Hollywood and the other in a jungle,” Jason decided to drop his manager and agent and live in Hawaii full time, in his self-sufficient farming compound that he calls ‘Pu Mu,’ which means ‘simplicity.’
  • However, in 1998, Jason ventured once again into the limelight and starred alongside Kurt Russell in the sci-fi action film Soldier as the merciless killer Caine 607.
  • Now, Jason keeps in shape by continuing to practice Jeet Kune Do, and occasionally responding to acting opportunities. In 2000, Jason starred in the musical ‘The King and I’ at the London Palladium alongside Elaine Paige, and returned to the role this year for Opera Australia in Melbourne.
  • In 2006, Lee added his voice to the documentary The Slanted Screen directed by Jeff Adachi, which follows the progression of Asian American actors throughout Hollywood’s history. “The lack of [Asian-American representation] definitely doesn’t help people empower themselves,” he says in the documentary, and commends Bruce Lee on his breakout into western mainstream cinema as a positive Asian-American protagonist.

 

JASON SCOTT LEE ON DRAGON: THE BRUCE LEE STORY

  • “No one came close to what Bruce was saying, or what he was preaching, or what he was developing.”
  • “Getting involved in Bruce’s philosophies and beliefs, helped scare away all the fears that come into actually portraying the legend.”
  • “Bruce Lee was more gregarious and outspoken, I’m much more reserved.”
  • “That movie changed my life dramatically.”
  • “Dragon brought me an understanding of what the body is capable of.”
  • “What hit me the hardest was the seeking, that Bruce Lee was a man who kept on searching.”

Two part documentary with Jason Scott Lee

Jason was staying in a Malay village to learn Malay culture and Malay martial arts Silat as well as visit the oldest rain forest, Taman Negara National Park and experience unique home stay in Sabah.

Part 1

Part 2

SELECTED FILMOGRAPHY

YEARFILM
1987Born in East L.A
1989Back to the Future Part II
1993Map of the Human Heart
1993Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story
1994Rapa-Nui
1994Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book
1998Soldier
2000Arabian Nights
2006The Slanted Screen
2007Balls of Fury

Image Gallery

Although Emily had spent a year learning Shotokan Karate as a teenager, she spent three months at a martial arts school in the Fujian province of China and discovered her passion for kung fu! She practiced White Crane style, returning for a full year to learn Yang and Sun style Tai Chi as well as Ba Gua and Xing Yi Fist, Bai Ji Fist and weapon forms. Emily spends her free time perfecting her Tai Chi and hopes to teach it one day. Her favourite Kung Fu movie is The Grandmaster, but she also loves Kung Fu Panda, and has seen it more times than she would like to admit!

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