Movie fans might have noticed that Jackie Chan has appeared in fewer and fewer American films throughout the years. After he became one of Hong Kong’s biggest and most profitable silver-screen stars thanks to his work as an actor and stuntman in martial arts and action movies, it seemed inevitable that Chan would take over Hollywood. In 1998, he took a giant leap toward that feat when he scored a role in his first big international blockbuster, ‘Rush Hour’. Playing opposite Chris Tucker in the action-comedy film, Chan became instantly recognizable to fans all across the globe.
From there, he followed up the first ‘Rush Hour’ with a handful of sequels and many other American projects like ‘The Spy Next Door’, all three ‘Kung Fu Panda’ movies, and a 2010 remake of ‘The Karate Kid’ starring Jaden Smith. It’s undeniable that Chan is one of the biggest stars in the world, but he’s largely disappeared from the American spotlight, though he’s still churning out films in his native Hong Kong.
Here’s the real reason Jackie Chan stopped filming American movies.
In an October 2020 interview with Filmelier, which was translated into English by Movieweb, Chan revealed the reason why he’s been sticking to movies made in Asia lately. As he told the outlet, ‘[I’ve] never left America, [but I haven’t been able to] find the right script.’ Unfortunately for Chan, he seems to get pigeonholed a lot. Chan referenced the seven-year gap between 2010’s ‘Karate Kid’ and 2017’s ‘The Foreigner’, co-starring Pierce Brosnan, and said, ‘All these years after ‘The Karate Kid’, I received so many scripts, but the role is [always] a Hong Kong policeman. That’s why it took me seven years to accept a role in another Hollywood film, with ‘The Foreigner’.
“I said can I have something different like Mamma Mia?”
Ultimately, Chan wants to diversify his roles and get into more dramatic work. During the same interview, Chan explained that his roles in ‘The Karate Kid’ and ‘The Foreigner’ are the type of parts he’s seeking out these days. In ‘The Karate Kid’, Chan played a maintenance man who’s actually a kung fu master; he becomes the mentor to a 12-year-old boy who recently moved to Hong Kong and wants to learn to defend himself. Chan’s role in ‘The Foreigner’ was just as interesting. He played an ex-special forces operative who became a restaurateur in London following the Vietnam War. However, when his teenage daughter dies in a terrorist bombing, Chan’s character seeks revenge. These parts in Hollywood films allowed Chan to explore new territory, which is something he wants to do more of on screen. If the right Hollywood movie script comes along, Chan would presumably jump at the chance. That just hasn’t happened yet, as he told Filmelier, ‘I want to make sure that every year the audience can see so many different sides of Jackie Chan […] I would like audiences to consider me as an actor who can do action, not just as an action star. I don’t like to repeat myself.’
This isn’t the first big announcement Chan has made about the future of his career. At the 2012 Cannes Film Festival, the icon admitted that he was stepping away from action movies. He revealed, ‘I will ask my body how long I can go […] I tell you, I am not young anymore […] I am really, really tired.’ It also isn’t the first time that Chan has discussed his desire for audiences to see him as more than just an action movie star. During the Cannes Film Festival press conference for Chinese Zodiac in 2012, the actor shared that he wanted to show the world ‘the real Jackie Chan.’ To do that, Chan’s plan was to move away from action-heavy roles and into more dramatic territory. He explained, ‘I don’t just want to be an action star; I want to be a true actor […] I want to be an Asian Robert De Niro. I want to get rid of my image. So, for the last ten years I’ve done other films like ‘The Karate Kid’, where I’d rather play an old man. I want the audience to know I’m not just about fighting or comedy, also I can act.’
With all this considered, Chan also recently teased a fourth ‘Rush Hour’ movie, so it seems that nothing’s off the table just yet.
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