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Jason Lee gets to yell 'Al-vinnnnn!'

Jason Lee gets to yell 'Al-vinnnnn!'

It's the last day of shooting on the "My Name is Earl" set in the San Fernando Valley. The Writers Guild of America strike has taken its toll, and the hit NBC sitcom has run out of new scripts.
To make matters worse, the star of the show has to spend his final day on the set with a rat.
The well-trained rodent is integral to a prison escape scene, which is reshot several times, but Jason Lee seems unfazed by his proximity to it. In fact, one suspects that the 37-year-old actor is thrilled to be performing with a live animal of any kind.
The last time the former Huntington Beach, California-based professional skateboarder worked with animals, they were of the computer-generated variety in the family film "Alvin and the Chipmunks," which opened Friday.
"Actually, it's a little refreshing to be working with a real rat," a smiling Lee said between takes. "It's a nice change from the chipmunks. And a little easier."
In the live action/animated film, Lee plays struggling musician Dave Seville, who discovers Alvin, Simon and Theodore, gives them a home and molds them into a pop singing group. The movie is timed to coincide with next year's 50th anniversary of the celebrated chipmunks' introduction to the world - the triple-Grammy winning single "The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don't Be Late)."
The chipmunks have rarely been out of the spotlight in the ensuing five decades, including a multiplatinum album in 1964 called "The Chipmunks Sing the Beatles," an animated television series in 1983 and even an animated feature film in 1987. Oh, did we mention the chipmunks' punk album in 1980 that sold more than one million copies?
The chipmunks were the brainchild of the late songwriter and singer Ross Bagdasarian Sr., who recorded under the stage name David Seville ("Witch Doctor"). He toyed with a tape recorder to create the high-pitched voices of the mischievous Alvin, the practical Simon and the cuddly Theodore.
For most of the film shoot, Lee acted with nobody named Alvin, Simon or Theodore. Off-camera actors fed him lines, and the chipmunks were added later through the magic of computer wizardry.
"The first thing I had to get used to was the fact that it was really acting," Lee said. "Then I realized that it really was acting. I was acting as if I was talking to somebody.
"It was unlike anything I've done before, but isn't that the point of acting? At least that's why I got into acting - to try a little bit of everything. I wouldn't have been able to do this kind of acting 10 years ago. All the different kinds of experiences you have as an actor pay off. All those experiences are tied together somehow. I was able to pull this off because of something I did before."
Lee was well on his way to a modest independent film career in the middle of the celebrity pack when "My Name is Earl" creator Greg Garcia made an unexpected decision to offer Lee the role of Earl Hickey, a petty thief who discovers the wonders of karma and tries to make amends for past misgivings.
Garcia said Lee was one of only a few actors considered for the role. "I loved him in "Chasing Amy" and thought he would be perfect as Earl because I needed an actor who was likable and charming, but who could seem gritty enough to have had Earl's checkered past.
"My Name is Earl" is doing well in its third season, and Lee said he has no regrets about doing a television show, although the work is just as hard as he thought it would be.
"Man, it's a lot of work, but I really like the show. It's fun to be in, and I guess people feel it's fun to watch. It doesn't exclude the audience. It doesn't try to be smart for the sake of being smart."
Lee, who rode a motorcycle to the set for his final day of shooting, said he's exhausted from finishing the TV show and promoting the movie, and looks forward to his forced vacation. He said he's also looking forward to spending more time with his son.
"I have a new friend," he said of parenthood. "I hang out with him and do things with him. He's so cool. And he's already standing on a skateboard."


Updated : 2020-12-02 15:04 GMT+08:00