Jason James Richter (born January 29, 1980) is an American actor, most commonly known for his role in the Free Willy series as Jesse, the boy who befriends Willy.

Early life

Richter was born in Medford, Oregon, the son of Sandy, an actress, and Greg Richter, who was in the U.S. Navy. At the age of three, he and his family moved to Hawaii, where a Japanese casting agency discovered him and signed him up for three TV spots. In 1989, his family moved back to Los Angeles, where he could pursue his career.


He starred in Free Willy in 1993, in which he was chosen out of more than 4,000 candidates to play the lead role of Jesse. Other movies include Cops & Robbersons, The NeverEnding Story III, Free Willy 2: The Adventure Home, Laserhawk, Free Willy 3: The Rescue, and The Setting Son. He also made a cameo appearance in the music video for Michael Jackson's "Childhood". His most recent film appearance was in Ricochet River, along with Kate Hudson.

Between the Free Willy roles, he had TV guest roles on Sabrina, the Teenage Witch and The Client.

He was the bassist for the band Fermata.

It has been claimed that he is an avid fan of the Jacksonville Jaguars.

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