The Kid From ‘Free Willy’ Is Now 36 Years Old And Is Busy As Ever

free willy

Jason James Richter is an American actor that has been acting since the early ’90s. Although you might not be familiar with his name, you will probably recognize his face once you see him. He is mostly known for his role as Jesse in the ‘Free Willy’ films. Some other projects he was in includes:

  • The Neverending Story III
  • Cops and Robbersons
  • The Client

You may have thought he disappeared after those films, but really just took a break from acting. Now he’s back to his acting roots.

For those wondering what he’s been up to for the past two decades, this gallery will take you on a little journey through Richter’s life.

1) When the actor was just three years old, he and his family moved to Hawaii where he was discovered by a Japanese casting agency. In 1989, they moved over to Los Angeles, so that Richter could pursue his career as an actor.

free willyInstagram/@jason_james_richter

2) It wasn’t easy getting the role of Jesse in the ‘Free Willy’ films. Richter was up against 4,000 other young boys who were applying for the same role!

free willyInstagram/@jason_james_richter

3) Following the film, the actor ended up doing two more sequels to the original whale film. He returned as Jesse in ‘Free Willy 2: The Adventure Home’ and ‘Free Willy 3: The Rescue.’

free willy 2Instagram/@jason_james_richter

4) Thanks to his star status, Richter ended up landing another lead role in the film ‘The Neverending Story 3: Escape From Fantasia.’ The movie followed Bastian (Richter) and his journey to restore order after a group of bullies steal a magical book.

the neverending storyYouTube/retro VHS trailers

5) But the actor wasn’t always the face of his character. In 1997, he got to take a crack at voice acting. He played Ringo the Bull in the cartoon series, ‘Rugrats.’

the rugratsBehind The Voice Actors/Rugrats

6) Richter recalls falling in love with music when he was about 10 or 11 after hearing Jimi Hendrix. He got a guitar and started jamming.

boy with guitarInstagram/@jason_james_richter

7) When the actor took a little break from the spotlight, he remembers hearing some crazy rumors about himself. ‘There were rumors that I got a face tattoo,’ he recalls. He also heard that he was apparently ‘in a car accident.’

camp counselor Instagram/@jason_james_richter

8) After the major success of the ‘Free Willy’ franchise, Richter says that he had many people approach him saying they were inspired to follow their dreams. I’ve had kids come to me and say, ‘Oh, I loved your movie when I was a kid and I became a marine biologist.’ It’s crazy.’

jason james richterYouTube/retro VHS trailers

9) In 1997, he got a role in the hit teen series ‘Sabrina, The Teenage Witch.’ Richter got to play a witch named Dante in the episode ‘Dante’s Inferno.’ He was the first of three witches that got to date the character Sabrina, played by Melissa Joan Hart.

sabrina the teenage witchComic Vine/Sabrina The Teenage Witch

10) After being a child actor, Jason decided he needed a break from acting. When he was 18, he made his transition over to music and joined a band.

jason james richterInstagram/@jason_james_richter

11) He was the bassist for ‘Fermata’, where the band ended up doing three U.S. tours. Although the guys lived in a van and spent ‘eight bucks a day for dinner,’ Richter says he couldn’t have been happier.


12) Once the group was done touring the country, Richter went back to the acting industry. In addition to acting, he also wrote, directed, and produced other projects. In 2009 he had a role in the film ‘Tekken’ playing Bonner’s Associate.

jason james richterInstagram/@jason_james_richter

13) In 2013, he wrote, directed, produced, and starred in his own project, ‘The Quiet Loud.’ The seven and a half minute short film can be streamed on Vimeo.

the quiet loudVimeo/Jason James Richter

14) Although he does seem to be branching out his skills, acting is his calling. Viewers can see him in the upcoming film ‘Driver’ as Alexander Hutchins. It is expected to drop in 2017.

jason james richterInstagram/@jason_james_richter

15) 2017 looks like a pretty solid year for the actor. He will also be appearing in the movie ‘Last Rampage’ as the character Brawley. The movie is also expected to release next year along with another project, ‘High and Outside.’

last rampageInstagram/@jason_james_richter

16) Now, the guy is busier than ever. After wrapping up with a few films for 2017, Richter will also be a part of the horror film, ‘3 Solitude.’ The project is set to drop in 2018.

jason james richterInstagram/@jason_james_richter

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