Just like his character on "My Name Is Earl," Jason Lee (search) tries to do good things in real life.
"I try to do good things, you know, and good things happen when you keep yourself open like that, definitely," Lee told reporters.
On his new NBC comedy, which debuts Tuesday, Lee plays Earl, a loser who tries to right all the wrong he's done in his life after being hit by a car. Earl calls it karma, a term he heard Carson Daly (search) say on TV.
Earl is aided in his quest to "cleanse his karma," albeit from his fellow dimwitted friends: Hapless brother Randy (Ethan Suplee) and the alluring Catalina (Nadine Velazquez). Even Darnell (Eddie Steeples), the owner of the Crab Shack where Earl drinks beer, offers his support. But it's Earl's ex-wife Joy (Jamie Pressly) who won't lift a finger unless there's something in it for her.
Until "Earl" came along, Lee said he didn't want to work in television, especially because it meant he'd be doing the same character week after week, and possibly year after year.
"I had to take that into account," he said. "I mean, if this thing goes for seven, I'll be 42-years-old. What's Earl gonna look like when I'm 42? Still crossing things off his list, you know. Yeah, it was a tough decision."
"I never wanted to do TV, I just wanted to do films," he said. "So that I could bounce around, take long breaks, work with different directors, play different characters and be known for being an actor, me being an actor, playing different roles, as opposed to being known as a character on a show."
Since he's done a lot of movies, Lee hoped people might not see him only as Earl. But critics have generally like the show, which means he might have to get used to the part.
"I figure, well I think I've done enough films over the last 10 years to where the percentage of people that are gonna call me Earl on the street will probably be a little bit less. So, that'll be good."