I vaguely remember hearing of Jackie Chan in the late '70s when he attempted to become known as "the next Bruce Lee."  But it wasn't until the '90s that I (like the rest of America) got my first taste of just how funny and talented this veteran Asian superstar really is.

Jackie is a powerhouse on the big screen--an explosive whirl of martial arts maneuvers that almost leaves you thinking you've watched a fight choreographed to a ballet.  He has a knack for making every trick look easy and can turn a serious scene into a light moment as soon as he opens his mouth.  He deservedly has earned his reputation as an action superstar not only with the older male crowd but with women and children as well. 

Kids look up to Jackie as a role model, and his older fans respect him for his longevity.  Jackie's climb to the top is the stuff Hollywood legends are made of, but the best part about his fame is that he's earned every bit of it.  Through hard work, perseverance, determination and a spirit that wouldn't quit, Jackie Chan is a shining example of what a dream can become if you never give up on it.

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Jackie at a press  event promoting his new film, The Tuxedo.  Jackie was refreshingly honest about his career choices, candid about his take on Hollywood, pleasantly frank about how mystified he is with the American sense of humor, and genuinely humble about his popularity and adoration of his fans.

I thought about paraphrasing the interview and filling in words that Jackie didn't use in order to make the dialogue more "reader friendly."  But in doing so, I would be cheating you out of getting to know the real Jackie Chan and getting a glimpse of the witty personality, charisma, and humorous side that makes him so endearing and adorable. 

So, despite the choppy answers and broken sentences, please read the following interview with patience and a smile....


Q:  Jackie, why did you choose this particular story--why The Tuxedo?

A:  "A few years ago I tell my manager that I want to do something different.  I'm tired of doing Rush Hour, Shanghais Noon, Hong Kong films, police stories.  I want something different.  But I like action.  I want something new. I  fly to New York to see Ang Lee, and see what he says.  I fly to China to see a director.  I always keep hope.  Then I realize, the best way to have my career is Rush Hour.  Then my second movie should be like a Kramer vs. Kramer.  Wow, pure drama!  Then I do Shanghais for comedy action, then Spy Game, then Rush Hour 2, then Gladiator, then Tuxedo [Editorial note:  By this time I'm laughing along with everyone in the room at hearing Jackie Chan longing to do drama and more than just "action" films].  Now, in February I do Shanghais Nights.  But I want to do different characters in different movies.  Now I'm tired of the same, Rush Hour 1, Rush Hour 2, 3,4,5,6,7--I'm tired."

Q:  So, no more Rush Hours?

A:  "Yeah, there is.  [Editorial note:  At this we again burst into laughter because of the smile on his face.  He clearly knows that these movies are what make him a box office hit.]  Right now we talking about 2004, Rush Hour 3.  After Rush Hour 3, then talking about making Shanghais Dawn.  But I like Shanghais Nights.  It best American film I made so far!"

Q:  Why is it the best?

A:  "I can't tell--you have to go see it!  You go see it--maybe I'm wrong!  I like American people, and I think they will like it.  Something I don't like is successful like Rush Hour, I make the movie and I tell my manager, 'See I should never make this kind of movie!'  Then I go to Asia to make Asian film and they call me and say, 'Jackie, big hit!  It success!'  I say what?  Then I make Rush Hour 2 and I hate it!  Worse than Rush Hour 1!  And they call me and say, 'It success!'  Then I slowly realize, okay, I still have Chinese mind, I have 'hometown' mind.  I don't get American culture, American dialogue.  So now from that time on, I really listen to whatever Owen [Wilson] tell me to say--whatever Chris Tucker tell me to say.  I realize, okay, anything I think not funny means, it's funny." 

"Now with Asian film I am right!   I know what works and what doesn't.  Rush Hour release in Asia and bomb.  Nobody go to see it!  Yeah!  Only 12 million!  My movie, I make a Hong Kong film and it make 50 million!  You see the difference?  If Rush Hour not starring Jackie Chan, I think it only make half million in Hong Kong--that's all!"