Jason Scott Lee is no stranger to testing his limits to take on challenging roles, but a year ago, at 53, he stunned the world by cutting to 4% body fat to kill the evil Böri Khan in the Disney + live action movie Mulan . to play . Apparently fitter than ever, this martial artist has learned to live off the land and to work with the advantages and disadvantages that come with maturity.
Here the popular actor talks about stepping out of his comfort zone, seeing the fruits of his labor, and joining the cast of Disney hit Doogie Kamealhoa, MD.
Lee's résumé is full. The movie star has played Mowgli in the live-action version of Jungle Book, voiced his voice to animation like Lilo & Stitch, and is perhaps best known for the lofty role of Bruce Lee (no relative) in the film almost 30 years ago in Dragon: The Bruce Lee story.
But his successful career is the result of willingness to step outside of his comfort zone. After small roles in Matlock and The A-Team, the young actor was a surprising choice for the high-profile martial arts icon role for the 1993 film, given that despite his strong resemblance to Bruce, Jason Scott Lee had no prior martial arts experience before he becomes a star in Dragon.
Get out of your comfort zone
"The teacher I had was a former student of Bruce," says Lee, referring to the well-known Jeet Kune Do teacher Jerry Poteet, who died in 2012 at the age of 75. “I got engaged. Often people think, "Oh, you're training for this movie," and they think it's a physical thing, but it was so much about sitting with a pot of green tea and discussing. As they say, the mind comes first and the body will follow. This kind of introduction to the martial arts was invaluable. The physical training was pretty much the same as how Bruce (his students) trained. We used focus gloves and focused on meeting things, making contact, and feeling him. ”Putting yourself in an unfamiliar role gives his portrayal of Bruce Lee an air of critically acclaimed authenticity.
Strength comes with age
Lee bought a farm in Hawaii 20 years ago and was completely separated from his acting career for several years. He took calls from Hollywood again in 2014 and was busier than ever, but the opportunity to play villain Böri Khan meant he needed to be shredded. Lee wanted to see if he was up to the task and, like with Dragon, he first had to prepare mentally.
"I think your mind gets stronger as you get older," says Lee. “My trainer and I were working on a promise to cut body fat to 4%. I thought it was impossible at my age. I was 52 at the time. Just stay on this path – it's just day after day. "
The "Mulan" method
Under the guidance of his trainer Bojan Mladenovic, Lee trained twice a day for almost three months. Even the warm-up exercises were intense and often consisted of half-hour bear crawls. It was tough, but Lee found the process was manageable when he followed his diet and made sure he got plenty of sleep. “You're pretty golden when you can have that kind of discipline,” he says.
When it came to nutrition, breakfast often meant 10 egg whites followed by a banana. "Some people talk about Cheat Days, but I didn't really feel like I needed one," says Lee. “Some days were harder than others. At lunchtime there was chicken breast, 10 egg whites and a banana. Then a little coconut water after training and maybe a handful of walnuts or almonds in between. That kept me going and I added American ginseng and a little Cordyceps – that kept my immunity strong. ”Mladenovic also recommended Lee to mix some apple cider vinegar with turmeric and lemon juice in the morning.
“Before Mulan, I lived in Singapore and a lot of food is so oily and salty that I put a little (extra) weight on me. A friend recommended that I eat parsley during this transformation. I bought it in the market, a bunch of it, put it in a vase of water, and picked it up every day. ”Parsley contains chlorophyll, which is credited with detoxifying the body and providing energy.
Once again, Lee's next venture will take his acting skills to new places as he joins the cast of Doogie Kamealoha, MD, who will start streaming on Disney + September 8th. "It's very different," says Lee. “It's a foray into comedy because it's drama. It's kind of reinterpreted by Doogie Houser, MD. It's the story of a 16-year-old genius who becomes a doctor, and I play her father Benny, who is from the Hawaiian Islands. My character's background is in finance, but he gave up the rat race and bought a flower truck. It's a nice shot and has very authentic cultural values. It is beautifully received. "
Life from the country
While comedy may be newer terrain for Lee than action roles, for example, this newest character isn't that far removed from his own values. Lee lives on a 25 acre farm on top of a mountain in Hawaii and when he's not so strict with his diet, the actor still believes in eating whole foods and avoiding processed fats and sugars. “Being here in the country and having a small homestead, a farm, I see that with my children,” says Lee. "You love it. You have the time of your life. I enjoy being a father, being a father and seeing how you enjoy this freedom."