FREE Willy is a childhood classic that tells the heartwarming story of a boy and an Orca whale who have become best friends.
After he vandalizes the amusement park where Willy lives, orphan Jesse’s life is turned upside down when he is ordered to work there as punishment.
But teenage Tearaway soon finds redemption when he thwarts evil plans that could get the whale killed.
Jesse was played by Jason James Richter at the age of 13 and became the star of all three Free Willy films between 1993 and 1997.
He beat out over 4,000 viewers who were eager to play the teenage hero.
Speaking in 2013, Jason revealed that he had actually come into contact with a real-life whale, named Keiko, on set.
“I remember it as one of those pure and utterly mesmerizing moments as a child,” he told the Daily Beast.
“You don’t see danger. At 11, you were like, ‘Oh my God, a whale. That’s amazing! This is going to be awesome,’ he recalls.”
“If I was 17, I might have said, ‘Hey, this is going to bite my arm off’, but when you’re 11 you’re like, ‘Oh, wow. Cool. Let me touch it. ‘”
After a brief hiatus, Jason appeared briefly in an episode of Sabrina, the Teenage Witch as Dante as a young man brought in by her aunts as a potential suitor for Sabrina.
He then took a break from acting for another eight years from 2001 to 2009, during which time he played bass guitar in the band Fermata.
But in 2015, the US-born star, now 41, made her cinematic comeback with recognized roles in Last Rampage, The Brawler and most recently in the comedy-drama Last Call.
Speaking to Ok Magazine in 2016, he said, “I’m still acting. I just finished a movie called High and Outside.
“I had to play a crazy cyclist in the movie which was quite different. Before that, I played a doctor in a movie called Inhumane and I was expected to play one. The West.”
As of 2022, Jason is believed to be worth an estimated £386,000, according to Celebrity Net Worth.com.
https://www.thesun.ie/tvandshowbiz/8244968/free-willy-star-jason-james-richter-looks-unrecognisable/ Jesse from the popular 90s movie, Free Willy looks unrecognizable after 30 years