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In Mallrats , Lee played one half of a dejected pair who head to the mall to take their mind off their respective girlfriend problems.
Ken Tucker, reviewing the comedy for Entertainment Weekly , singled out Lee's performance as "an impressively charming acting debut." Lee formally retired from the pro skateboarding circuit in 1996.
When Vanilla Sky 's shooting schedule permitted, Lee helped out his friend Smith by taking on two roles in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back , reprising both the Brodie Bruce and Banky Edwards characters.
He went on to appear in Heartbreakers , his third film of 2001, and with Tom Green and Megan Mullally in Stealing Harvard the following year. I really put them through the wringer." Lee eventually agreed—on paper, and with ink—to play the harmlessly sociopathic trailer-park-dweller Earl Hickey in the wickedly funny NBC sitcom that debuted in September of 2005.
He later said he modeled his stage persona after British rocker Paul Rodgers of Free and Bad Company.
Crowe also chose Lee to play the pivotal role of Brian Shelby, best friend of Tom Cruise's character, in the much-maligned Vanilla Sky.
Actor in films, including: Mi vida loca—My Crazy Life , 1993; Mallrats , 1995; Chasing Amy , 1997; Enemy of the State , 1998; Kissing a Fool , 1998; Dogma , 1999; Mumford , 1999; Almost Famous , 2000; Vanilla Sky , 2001; Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back , 2001; Heartbreakers , 2001; Stealing Harvard , 2002; Dreamcatcher , 2003; A Guy Thing , 2003; Jersey Girl , 2004; The Incredibles (voice), 2004; The Ballad of Jack and Rose , 2005; Drop Dead Sexy , 2005; Monster House (voice), 2006; Clerks II , 2006.
Retired from his career as a professional skateboarder, Lee was initially reluctant to take the small-screen job when it was offered to him, having carved out a solid niche as a film actor with memorable roles in such movies as Mallrats and Vanilla Sky.
Television appearances include: Weapons of Mass Distraction , HBO, 1997; Perversions of Science , HBO, 1997; My Name Is Earl , NBC, 2005—. 1988-96; founder of Stereo Manufacturing (a skateboard company).
His next project was in another film by Smith, Chasing Amy , in which he played Banky Edwards, best friend to Ben Affleck's Holden Mc Neil.
The pals' comic-book authorship success and friendship is threatened thanks to Holden's crush on Joey Lauren Adams's character, who may or may not be gay.
As he later recalled in an interview with Robert Abele for In Style , "I was thinking, Wow, this is what it's like to be in a movie.
I'm in a scene right now, and I can see the camera. " Again, he was instantly hooked and began auditioning for television parts, but his efforts amounted to nil until he began dating a woman whose brother was the actor Giovanni Ribisi.