Jason Lee: For the Love of Kids in ‘Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked’

Jason Lee reprises his role as Dave Seville with his trademark shout Alviiiin! in “Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked.” (Watch the new trailer)

In the movie, the beleaguered Dave Seville ( Lee) takes Alvin Simon and Theodore as well as the Chipettes, Brittany Eleanor and Jeanette, on a fabulous vacation via a luxury cruise ship where chaos inevitably ensues.

As the irrepressible Alvin creates mayhem on board, they find themselves ‘chipwrecked’ in a remote island and find themselves embroiled in an exciting and hair-raising adventure.

Lee gained mainstream attention from his string of films starting with “Mallrats” followed by “Chasing Amy,” “Dogma,” “Almost Famous,” “Vanilla Sky,” “Dreamcatcher” and “Enemy of the State” Lee shares in the following q&a on taking the role of Dave Seville for the third time.

Q: Why did you return for a third film?
Lee: “I am very proud of the franchise and so are my kids. The script was great and this is a fun film. Most of it takes place outside in a jungle, or on a cruise ship, so there’s a lot more scope for exciting things to happen. There is certainly more of a cliffhanger. It is a little bit more mysterious, not scary but more adventurous.”

Q: You look very fit. Have you been working out for the film?
Lee: “I dropped a lot of weight recently. I started cycling and running and working out a lot and changed my lifestyle and my diet. I quit smoking and started eating well. I turned 40 so I thought it would be a good time to give up all the junk food and get clean and healthy. It feels good; I got into shape after twenty years of smoking and eating whatever I wanted. I have finally become athletic.”

Q: Returning to the film, how has Dave evolved through the films?
Lee: “I think he’s loosened up a little bit or he likes to think he has. Ultimately he’s a good guy. He still has more to do in terms of becoming a relaxed father, but this time he has to discover what it means to be trusting and know that he does not have to control everything himself. He sees a side of Alvin that he is not expecting. From then on he lightens up quite a bit.”

Q: Would you say Dave is quite a realistic character (although he’s Dad to chipmunks)?
Lee: “He is authentic. Of course in life you sometimes lose your patience to a greater or lesser degree and here we have a little bit of license because of the comedy. Dave is funny. The kids love to see Dave get worked up by these Chipmunks. Though in real life I certainly don’t yell at my kids like he does. But he is constantly being challenged by fatherhood and life. He is trying to be present and trying to be as cool about everything as he can.”

Q: How has your experience as a father contributed to your role as Dave?
Lee: “Being a dad, I know what it feels like to give lots of love and understanding, but I also know what it feels like to have my buttons pushed. My son is nine now and he’s very mature and intelligent. But there’s a part of me that misses the time when he was a really little kid. So I’m trying to hang on to him being a kid and appreciate the time because it goes by so fast.”

Q: How interesting is work for you right now?
Lee: “I enjoy the variety. I think the idea of being an actor is to work. I used to be really opposed to being on television, but then I did “My Name Is Earl” which was a life changing experience for me. You realize that you’re blessed to be an actor and work and make money so you can support your family and travel and have a good life. I went from being an actor to being a producer too, which involved gaining a lot more knowledge about the filming process; I learned a tremendous amount about acting too. Every time you gain knowledge like that, it creates more confidence. Now I’m here making a film that kids love.”

“Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked” opens January 8 (Sunday) in Phil. theaters from 20th Century Fox to be distributed by Warner Bros.

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