RISING star Jason Scott Lee is proof that you can take the boy out of the jungle but you can't take the jungle out of the boy. Lee, who plays Mowgli in the latest movie version of Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book, has turned his back on Hollywood after making just four films and headed home to his island paradise. While other young actors are happy to spend their nights partying in the trendy nightclubs on Los Angeles' Sunset Strip, the 28-year-old prefers to live quietly near the village where he was raised, on the Hawaiian island of Oahu. Lee, whose parents are Chinese-Hawaiian, first found fame playing kung fu legend Bruce Lee in Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story. He went on to become one of the film industry's leading Asian actors, playing an Eskimo in the World War II love story, Map Of The Human Heart, and a Polynesian prince in Rapa Nui, a period piece produced by Kevin Costner. 'I guess I've had a little bit of luck with a little bit of talent. Hollywood sort of found me, I sort of found them, and it's just really been magical,' Lee said. 'I feel fortunate to be able to live back here in Hawaii, to be in a space where I can sit back and take as much time as I need, to feel the bliss this place can offer. 'When I receive scripts and screenplays from the mainland, I look for this element. I search for things that match that bliss, that emotional level where this place takes me,' he said. 'As a person, I haven't changed. My friends would kill me if I did. What's changed is that I have less time for friends, but I try hard to get together whenever possible.' His parents, Bob and Sylvia Lee, disapproved of his choice of career. 'When I left Hawaii and went to live on the mainland, it was particularly tough, going against their wishes. But I just had a feeling for acting,' Lee said. When he was a boy, 'I would go to kung fu movies and they were such a big thing. I never knew how big however, until I went to college,' he said. 'My father was a big Bruce Lee fan. He used to take us to all these really fantastical films with martial arts in them. And Bruce Lee was amazing.' Although he was not trained in martial arts, Lee - a volleyball star and gymnast at school - began to work out to develop his body for Dragon. The decision has paid dividends: he shows plenty of muscles in his newest excursion on the big screen. He has also developed a keen interest in martial arts and is now a Jeet Kune Do expert. Lee feels that in some ways his life parallels that of Mowgli, a boy raised by animals, because he is a jungle boy at heart. 'I wanted to work with animals. There's something I've noticed, in animals and indigent cultures - their spirituality. 'I wanted to be in close proximity with these exotic animals. We worked with jaguars, leopards, bears, tigers, wolves, in India, Tennessee and South Carolina, and it was the experience of a lifetime,' he said. 'It was probably the greatest acting exercise anyone could have. If you dropped your attention for a second, you could be in a dangerous situation. 'I was tentative at first, but then after a while felt that if they bite me, they bite me. 'When I first met the leopards, they would come by and they wouldn't look at me, they would just rub up against me, or just check out my energy and see where I'm at, see if I'm afraid or relaxed, it's the whole idea that fear creates fear.' Lee also learned to read animal body language and animal habits. 'With the bear, for instance, you had to announce yourself, before you came around, because his ears and nose are sensitive, but his eyes are bad. You don't startle a 590-pound [268-kilogram] bear when his teeth and claws are intact.' Lee enjoyed working with the animals on The Jungle Book so much he wanted to take the jaguar home to live with him but the Hawaiian authorities refused to allow the big cat on to the islands. When not filming, Lee prefers to wear traditional Hawaiian clothes and spend his days at the beach, surfing or diving off cliffs. The rest of the time is spent tending his garden of exotic plants on his farm near Oahu's North Shore. 'I've my hands back in the earth,' he said. 'It's great because I've a buffer between me and Hollywood, so it's much more healthy.' Lee seems to have become a role model for Asian American youth and anyone with small-town family values. But, unlike his acting, it is a role he is not altogether comfortable playing. He said: 'Fame was something to adjust to. There is a huge responsibility to celebrity.' He has seriously considered turning his back on acting to become an Hawaiian medicine man. 'I'm interested in the healing arts and massage therapy. I'm not thinking of giving it up altogether but maybe just doing one film a year. 'I'm thinking about getting involved with an Hawaiian herbalist. 'Hawaii is a very healing place. It has a really heavy vibe. It's very sensual in a lot of ways and the spirituality of Polynesia is finally being resurrected. There are people who can teach me quite a bit about what we call lomi-lomi, or healing hands, loving hands . . . which is massage and the like. 'I love to act but it is such a big hassle. You have to fight for this, and fight for that, and I'm getting tired of fighting. And I have only just started.' Lee seems to have the right medicine to get movie audiences going but it's the cry of the wild that's attracting him.