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Nearly three decades ago, Hawai‘i born and raised actor Jason Scott Lee created a lasting impression as Bruce Lee in DRAGON: THE BRUCE LEE STORY, RAPA NUI and Mowgli in 1994’s THE JUNGLE BOOK. Before that, he played the character of Avik in the cross-cultural period romance MAP OF THE HUMAN HEART, which the revered film critic and HIFF friend Roger Ebert hailed as "one of the best films of 1993." For much of the '90s, Lee was a beacon for strong API male representation on the big screen. And then, he disappeared, pivoting to other interests including organic farming, relocating to Asia and eventually, falling in love, getting married and raising a family.
But, Lee is back on the big screen with his recent role as the main villain in Disney's live-action MULAN. If there is any a good time to reemerge in a time where a call-to-action for more diversity in mainstream media was prominent than ever, then now is the time. We sit down with the local actor, and talk story with him about his career (from his bit part in BACK TO THE FUTURE PART II to his insane workout regiment to beef up as Bori Khan in MULAN), moving to Hollywood, growing up in Hawai‘i and what's next in store for him in film and television. Lee has always been a HIFF supporter and advocate (his mother was a HIFF volunteer for many years), and it's only apropos that we celebrate with him during our 40th anniversary.