In real life, he's Jason Lee, and the former teenage skateboarding sensation-turned-actor can now go by yet another name: Golden Globe nominee.
Even before white-trashing his way to prime-time fame as Earl, Lee boasted an unlikely resume. The Huntington Beach native took up skateboarding at age 13 and went pro at 18, dazzling fans with his famous 360-degree flips.
By the early 1990s, Lee was performing skateboarding tricks in several music videos, including Sonic Youth's "100%," before making his film debut as a drug buyer in Allison Anders' 1993 film, "Mi Vida Loca."
Lee's acting career took off in 1995 when Kevin Smith cast him as cynical sidekick Brodie Bruce in "Mallrats." Smith then wrote the role of Ben Affleck's comic book partner for Lee in 1997's "Chasing Amy." Lee also garnered good notices for his role as a member of a '70s rock band in Cameron Crowe's 2000 film, "Almost Famous."
But "Earl" has become Lee's signature role, especially now that NBC is moving the show into the Thursday 9 p.m. time slot once occupied by "Cheers" and "Seinfeld."
Here Lee talks about his skateboarding past, the transition to television and the moment he realized he was actually acting.
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Q: You're no stranger to awards season, what with an Independent Spirit honor for supporting actor for "Chasing Amy" and a Screen Actors Guild ensemble nomination from "Almost Famous." But this is your first Golden Globe nomination and your first for a leading role. How is this different?
A: This is really the first opportunity I have had as an actor over the past 10 years to carry something. I loved the roles in "Almost Famous" and "Chasing Amy" and everything else I have done, but I think I'm ready for it right now more than I ever was to carry something. It's nice to be acknowledged in that way. At the end of the day it goes to show people really like our show.
Q: NBC is moving both "Earl" and "The Office" from Tuesday to its Must-See TV Thursday lineup. How does that make you feel?
A: It's exciting. The show is doing well and if that helps NBC that's great, because I know they wanted to revive Must-See TV. I have a lot of friends who do pizza night [around both shows], so it will be good. I hope it's a success. People say, "You're up against 'CSI'," but I think we have a pretty strong fan base that will come with us to Thursdays.
Q: How many days does it take to shoot an episode?
A: Five days, and we do anywhere from 12 to 14 hours a day.
Q: Did you expect that kind of intense schedule when you decided to do "Earl"?
A: I had no idea when I signed up to play Earl that the work would be so difficult. The scripts are very involved. There are a lot of flashback sequences and very physical activities and I have to record the voice-overs, too.
Q: What keeps your stamina up through those long days and weeks?
A: I like the show. That's the easy answer, but it is a truthful answer.
Q: And Earl is such a unique character.