Chris Tucker: You Think You Know Him...

posted August 14, 2007 12:00:00 AM CDT | 0 comments

Before hes even in the room, Chris Tuckers distinctive voice is already echoing through the room: Everything Jackie told yall was a lie! No longer the skinny kid of Friday, Tucker confidently steps into the room and were curious to see whats been happening to a star thats dropped out of movies for the past six years and now returned to his star-making franchise with Rush Hour 3.

HHDX: Were you nervous working with Jackie the first time around?
Chris Tucker
: Yeah, I was shy and I was a big fan of his so I didnt want mess up. I said, Just let me stay away from him! That may be better! But true to life, the relationship and friendship, the movies are a lot like real life because the first time we met, Jackie didnt know who I was. I was this up-and-coming comedian so New Line said lets being em together in a meeting and have Jackie fly in and see if he wants to do the movie with Chris. So the whole meeting Jackie didnt say anything and I was saying to him Were gonna do this and were gonna do that! and Jackie was goin Mmmhmm, mmmhmmm. So I went to the director and I said Does Jackie speak English because he wont say nothing to me, man! And he said, Dont worry, hell speak it by the time we do the movie! I said, Man, we cant do this movie if he don speak English. And he said, Naw, Im just kiddin. He speaks English. Thats his culture; hes just feeling you out. So thats how I came up with that line from the first Rush Hour: Do you understand the words that are coming out of my mouth?! So the whole movie I played it like that and it was like that in real life. He was the fish out of water. Second movie, I was out of the fish out of water in Hong Kong. This time, were both the fish out of water. We know each other now. Were friends, were buddies, were brothers. Its just more fun! I think people love to see this friendship and relationship progress and its just getting funner and funner.

HHDX: Youre doing more fighting in this one. Is that more difficult?
Tucker: Jackie makes it easy. Jackie tells me, Go to your trailer! Go to your trailer! I take care of you! He shows me the easy steps, these one-two steps, and its real easy. And I see it cut together and Im like Whoa! That looked cool! Because Jackie, hes incredible with that stuff.

HHDX: So no secret training between Rush Hour 2 and Rush Hour 3?
Tucker: Oh no! I did some training right before the film. I went out on the road on tour just to get my comedy chops together and get my timing back but other than that, I just show up and make sure Im in shape because its a lot of work. We gotta do take after take after take but with Jackie being so good at what he does, it makes it so easy.

HHDX: Were you injured at all?
Tucker: Well my stuntman got hurt. I told him not to do it but he said This is my job. Jackie made it pretty safe but the first one I got a carpet-burn on my back when Jackie drug me across this carpet but thats the only injury Ive ever had in a Rush Hour movie.

HHDX: What have you been doing the past six years?
Tucker: Well I did a lot of traveling around the world. Doing a lot of humanitarian work. Things that just sort of happen. I went to Africa the first time when I was promoting the first Rush Hour. I was doing press all day and people were telling me, You need to go to the townships and really see Africa! So I said okay and I couldnt do it that time but I went back the next year and I made all these friends and them telling me they wanted me to come back and go to Sowetos and work with the kids and all these things. So I went all over Africa. I went to fifteen different countries and it was so refreshing and fulfilling for me because I see these people and they dont have much but theyre so appreciative that I was all the way over there that they would say, Chris Tucker! What are you doing here! Thank you! So I spent a lot of my time and celebrity to shine a light on a lot of different issues. Clean water is a big issue in Africa and all kinds of stuff. I took these great trips and famous people knew who I was like (then) President Clinton, Bono, Colin Powell. All these trips, I just got all this knowledge of stuff thats going on in the world.

HHDX: Which is more surreal: being a movie star or traveling around Africa?
Tucker: When I was over (in Africa) I was giving my time and I was getting something back so it really changed my outlook on life. When I was coming up, I wanted to be the biggest, best comedian and I was going in that direction. But when I started traveling, I realized it wasnt about me being the biggest, best comedian. Its about giving and using my celebrity to my advantage rather than walking around as a big star and not really living, you lose a lot of your privacy as a big celebrity. This way, I was really taking advantage of my celebrity and happy with what I was doing instead of not really taking advantage of it and just being in the news.

HHDX: Do you ever get discouraged when you look at the scope of the problems in Africa?
Tucker: Oh yeah, all the time. I remember one time I was in Ethiopia, we went to an orphanage and it was full of babies. A wall full of babies and only two nuns and most of the babies were crying and I was like "What could I possibly do to change anything over here? Then one of the nuns told me a story about what Mother Teresa told her because she used to work under Mother Teresa. Mother Teresa said One raindrop creates an ocean. And that made me think a little bit, If I just do my part, then maybe someone will see what Im doing and be concerned about whats going on in Africa, and thats what happened because I was doing this long before it was popular. Now we got Don Cheadle and different people going to Africa and concerned about whats going on in Darfur, Sudan and Angelina Jolie adopting babies, and Bono. Bonos been a big influence on a lot of people. Like with me and my peers, Jay-Z and Alicia Keys are doing a lot of things in Africa now. So you just do your part. Some people wonder, What are they doing in Africa? and we just did a big documentary that was #1 on MTV and we just went to Ethiopia, me and Bono, and we did Live 8 in Chicago and President Bush gave a lot of money. So I think one person goes, and then other people go, because the news dont really tell you whats going on all the time. I just learned all these things by going over there and giving my time over there.

HHDX: This film takes place in Paris and right now, the French dont like America that much. What was your experience like working over there?
Tucker: I didnt experience a lot of it. I love Paris and the Parisian people were cool with me. The only thing I felt was when I went to the airport and I was late a bit. The French love to say no. I asked if I could get on the plane and they said, No. It is not possible. No. But other than that, I didnt experience any kind of thing like that. But this movie brings people together. We kind of arrogant because we expect everybody to speak English. French said, No. Im not going to speak English. But I appreciate every culture and every culture is special.

HHDX: Do you think the film is a little unfair to the French by portraying them in such a stereotypical fashion?
Tucker: Yeah, because I love France, I love Paris. I thought it was a little much but I try to liven it up with the comedy part. But I was like Why is this in there? and theyd be like Well people will like that so

HHDX: How do people react to you when they find that youre nothing like your hyper-active alter-ego in the movies?
Tucker: Most people are surprised because they come with the jokes and Id be tired like Look, man...thats the movies. But Im normally a quiet person. Most comedians are quiet because we observe a lot of things. I was a quiet kid. I was the youngest of six kids and I would sit and watch my older brothers and I would watch my sister and watch their mistakes and see what would happen. In school, I was more advanced because I had older brothers and sisters so I think that helped me a lot.

HHDX: How much ad-libbing do you do in these films?
Tucker: I do a lot. The script is just a guideline. I do some of it and then on top of it I put my own personality so I do a lot of improv. It comes out naturally and people like that.

HHDX: In an age where sequels come so frequently, why the six-year delay in making Rush Hour 3.
Tucker: Well I was traveling. And the studio would have filmed the movie just in Los Angeles. Jackie and I had to fight for it. Lets shoot in Paris! We gone to Hong Kong last time, lets go to Paris. Lets do something different. So they dont give out too easy so I was like Well, Im not gonna do the movie if you dont want to make it just as good or better. So that was the whole thing. Then we had to get a script that we thought was good enough to make it even compete with the second one. So Jackie was off filming movies. Brett [Ratner, director] was off doing X-Men [3] and I was doing what I was doing so I said, Let me know when youre serious.

HHDX: Hows Jackie holding up in doing these films at his age?
Tucker: He looks good! I mean hes in better shape than me most of the time. Every time I see him he looks younger and thinner. Im like Man, what are you doing?! And hes like Jackie Chan Medicine! Hes always in great shape.

HHDX: Do you see him when youre not making the Rush Hour movies?
Tucker: Well well go our separate ways but hell call me out of the blue and Ill call him out of the blue or if hes here in the States well get together. So its a great, great relationship because I know hes doing his own things and his own life but when we get together, we have so much respect for each other.

HHDX: Is there something else youre dying to do?
Tucker: Oh yeah! Im dying to do a stand-up comedy movie. I want to do like Eddie Murphy did Raw and Richard Pryor did Live in Long Beach and Live on the Sunset Strip because a lot of my fans dont know Im a comedian and started out doing stand-up comedy so I want to do that. Like a twenty city tour and then go to some different countries like London, Dubai, Africa, and do some stand-up. And also I want to do this movie Ive been working on for a few years called Mr. President. Id be playing the first African-American President and its a comedy and I think itd be pretty fun since the elections are coming up next year.

HHDX: Well it might actually happen!
Tucker: Yeah, it might happen! Hopefully Ill help make it happen! Barack might win it!

HHDX: Have you thought about getting involved in the elections next year?
Tucker: I might get involved because I love Barack. We met when he was running for Senator. So whoever has the best vision for the country and Im really feeling everybody out right now. Its a little too soon, too early for me to decide but Im definitely gonna be involved.

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