Another Rush For Unpredictable Tucker
|Chris Tucker is not who you would define as predictable. The irreverent comedian is back with Jackie Chan in Rush Hour 2 - his first film since the original. Paul Fischer discovered that Tucker is one guy who refuses to take himself too seriously. He met him in Los Angeles
PF: So Brett [Ratner, director] said that you're gay and that Jackie Chan kicked your ass a lot during the filming of Rush Hour 2.
CT: I'm going to tell you the truth. I saw Brett crying. He was in Hong Kong downstairs at a breakfast table. Nobody was there, it was like four in the morning and we had just finished filming. I was like: "What's wrong?" He said, "Chris, I've got to tell you something; I don't want you to tell anyone else". I said, "I promise." He said, "I am gay. I've been gay for five years." I said, "That's you, man. Don't worry about it. Don't be down because you are gay." But that was the thing. He was going to tell me that he got raped by ten men. I said what. Oh...I'm playing with ya.
PF: Is this the kind of stuff you talk about with Jackie?
CT: Jackie doesn't know what I'm talking about. I talk about him all the time. I talk about him. We had interpreters because we could afford them but we talk. Jackie understands what he wants to understand. When you start talking about money he's like "I don't know what the hell you are talking about."
PF: What makes your team so special?
CT: It's just the personalities, the chemistry. You never really have seen a Chinese guy and a black guy together. That's just funny right there. We are just too funny coaches and everybody always picks on Asian people and black people are just funny. We do funny things because of the way we were raised up. That's different because you've seen the white guy, black guy thing over and over again and it worked. But this is a fresh new turn on the buddies thing.
PF: Why has it taken you so long to do another film?
CT: On the first Rush Hour I travelled around the world with the movie. I went to Africa and Australia and all these places and I had such a good time I decided I didn't want to work again ever. [I'm just playing]. Seriously, what happened was I was looking for a lot of stuff but I didn't...really find what I wanted to do. I really wanted to go to the next level and I didn't want to go backwards. I really thought about it and I decided I am young and I've got a long time. If I do what's right and really think about it I could really be around for a long time and really do what I want to do instead of just jumping into something because it's there. So, I decided to wait and find good stuff. I was developing a lot of my own movies. Time went by and Rush Hour was one of the movies that we were developing and that came together faster. I wanted to come out with another big movie to keep the momentum going so I can do what I wanted to, because I was offered everything under the sun but I didn't just want to be another actor lead. Another black guy playing basketball or football. I didn't want to be another cop. I said if I'm going to be a cop it's going to be in Rush Hour. I've established that cop. That's the cop, unless I do a drama or something like that, something so different. I'm really young and I don't feel like my only hope is another film. I feel like I've got a career so I can be patient and learn and do what I want to do.
PF: What did you think about working in Hong Kong?
CT: I loved it. It was the first time a movie was shot over there and the government had something to do with it. So, everybody was out looking in the movie trying to see what we were doing, involved with the movie. The unique thing about it was the realness. You can't put that on a set. You can't create it. It was amazing.
PF: You do a lot more action in this film. How did you learn?
CT: Well, Jackie's got this way of teaching you that you can learn in one day. Jackie would usually get me and pull me to the side say we are going to do this. It's like a dance, almost choreographed and he was like, "One, two, three, flip, this, that and that.' So, he would come with his team and we would do a choreographed thing and we would do it. This movie, Jackie was really, really happy because it takes time to do what Jackie does and in the first movie we didn't have that big budget and enough time. In this movie we got Jackie's best stuff he ever did. That's the main reason I wanted to do this movie, to watch Jackie Chan do his thing because he's amazing. The stuff he does is really incredible.
PF: Have you talked to him yet?
CT: Yeah and he said you were really horrible to work with...He said that? Okay, I'm going to tell the truth about him. I'm going to tell a secret about Jackie. Jackie Chan loves soul food and he loves listening to rap music. He loves Jay Z and Puffy. Don't tell anyone I said that.
PF: How involved were you in your own stunts?
CT: My double, he doesn't even work. He comes to work and says, come on Chris I want to get some action. I say, shut up. I do all my own work. I do some of Jackie's stunts. 'Cause Jackie is getting old. Let's face the fact. How old can a man be? In one stunt, my hand, the prosthetics come on me, and you see a black hand. That's me. Jackie is short. He's so short you can see his feet on his driver's license. How short is he? That boy is short as hell. Fell off a curb, broke his ankle. That boy is short.
PF: How tough is it to get jobs opposite so many other talented young African American comics?
CT: I think everybody's different. Everybody is different in their own way and everybody comes from a different background. It's no comparison, no competition. I just think we are all funny, good in our own right and we're all just different. We've all got different minds and come from different places. It's good and it shows that we are getting more work and more opportunities. Back in the day there was only one comedian. It was Richard Pryor. That was it.
CT: That was after. Eddie Murphy came, it was Bill Cosby then Richard Pryor then it was Eddie Murphy. Now if you can make - - if Martin Lawrence does $100 million, if Chris Tucker does $100 million and Eddie Murphy does $100 million, Will Smith does $100 million. Now it's not about colour anymore. It's about who can make the movie open. Is Chris Tucker doing another movie, let's get Chris Rock. It's a business and it's not about colour. It might have been at one time. Let's give all the work to Denzel Washington. That's what we know. I don't think it's done on purpose. It's just who we know. Now it's like, everybody is opening up movies, showing that it doesn't have to be one - - I don't think it will ever be one black comic again. It's going to be a lot of good comics, a lot of good black comics and that's good.
PF: Why did you say yes to the film Mr. President?
CT: Oh, because I think it's a good idea. I think it's good. There's just so much I can do in the movie. It's a broad movie and it's a fun movie. When I went to school I knew about the presidents and the history of the presidents but it never really interested me. I was bored. I was like so what? Presidents, what? Now it's like I want to research it. I am into politics now. I know more about politics. It's fun now that I know how that stuff works and I know a lot more about what's going on. It's exciting and I think that will bring a lot more kids into watching and paying attention to government and politicians, the mayor, governor and they will really get into it if they are introduced to it in a fun way.
PF: Tell me about that project.
CT: Have you ever seen Putney Swope, the old movie? It's sort of like that Robert Downey, Sr. movie. A guy becomes president, fish out of water almost but it's surrounded by serious good actors and a lot of good cameos. President Clinton said he wanted to do a cameo. But he doesn't want to play himself. He wants to play a regular person in the movie. This was a year ago when he said it. We are going to start in about three months.
PF: Do you think America could have an African American president?
CT: Yeah, I think there could be a Mexican president if he's good and he's qualified. If enough people believe in what - it has a lot to do with who's backing him, how much money he's got to run a campaign. It's not about color; it's about can he get any people behind him?
PF: Would you ever consider getting into politics?
CT: Yeah, I would love it. I would love it. I heard Bloomberg is running for mayor in New York. I went to his thing, he owns this big communications company. He might run for mayor. I think it's a good thing to do. It's bringing a lot of leverage, a lot of power and he's got to be a good guy. A bad guy can get in there and start stealing money or tearing down old folks' homes.
PF: How do you react to top billing and getting $20 million for Rush Hour 2?
CT: It's good. I think it's good because - and I think billing doesn't matter because everybody knows this movie couldn't be anything without me and Jackie being together. I don't care; it doesn't matter about the name because it's all about me and him. When I'm by myself, yeah, but Rush Hour is me and Jackie Chan so the billing doesn't matter. The 20 million doesn't matter either because the only reason that happened - - it DOES matter! [LAUGHS] Alright, it feels good! I can't believe it! You all want to come on my boat after this? But seriously, you never know when a movie will be successful and they pay you how successful the movie is. So, I thank God the movie was real successful. Hopefully, this one'll be even more successful.
PF: Talk about the naked scene. Did someone ask for an autograph when you shot that?
CT: Oh, Jackie Chan was. I wasn't nude though. I told them. I had shorts on. They said, "Come on, Chris, we see the shorts." I said, "You all don't pay me enough. I'm not running down Hong Kong buck naked. This is not Roots. I'm not doing it. Pay me another 20 million, I'll do it."
Rush Hour 2 opens in the U.S. on August 2nd.
Paul Fischer is an interviewer and film critic living in Hollywood.