Chris Tucker: The Real Reason He Disappeared From Hollywood

By Rick Gonzales | 4 weeks ago

Chris Tucker

Talk about dropping off the face of the earth, Chris Tucker, where are you? At one time he was one of the most sought-after actors in Hollywood. Since then, Chris Tucker has virtually disappeared from the screen. Will we ever see him again? Here’s what we know.

BUILDING TO THE FIFTH ELEMENT

Fifth Element

Chris Tucker’s resume is not that long nor is it that impressive. Which is funny to say because at one point he was the highest-paid actor in Hollywood. He got his start as a young stand-up comedian in Atlanta but took his talents to Los Angeles to pursue a bigger career in comedy. Tucker then became a regular contributor on the Russell Simmons HBO show Def Comedy Jam.

While he was honing his comedic chops, Chris Tucker also leaned into feature films, making his feature film debut in the movie House Party 3. From there he moved on to Panther and then really began to find his own when he starred in the movie Friday. The recognition Chris Tucker received from that movie led him to bigger roles and bigger paydays.

Chris Tucker in Friday
Chris Tucker in Friday

He grabbed a scene-stealing role as the uber-flamboyant Ruby Rhod in the Bruce Willis led science-fiction hit The Fifth Element and Chris Tucker was now on the map. He followed that up with the comedy Money Talks and a small role in Quentin Tarantino’s Jackie Brown, but nothing would compare to what came next.

CHRIS TUCKER’S RUSH HOUR

Jackie Chan Rush Hour

Rush Hour brought a financial tidal wave to Chris Tucker in 1998. The movie, which co-star action and kung fu legend Jackie Chan, was a massive hit. Their paring was comedic gold, Tucker’s timing with Chan was impeccable. So big was the first one, a second and third Rush Hour were called for.

Because the first movie was so big, Chris Tucker decided to hold out for a bigger payday. It worked because for the 2001 Rush Hour 2, Tucker received $20 million and for the 2007 Rush Hour 3, Chris Tucker put himself at the top of the food chain when he asked for and received $25 million to play Detective James Carter one more time.

Chris Tucker in Rush Hour
Chris Tucker in Rush Hour 2

Those three movies were made from 1998 through 2007. Do you know how many non-Rush Hour projects Tucker was in between that time? ZERO. Okay, he appeared in two video shorts: one for Michael Jackson and one for Mariah Carey. But that was it. He became a very selective star. Why?

CHRIS TUCKER’S SPIRITUAL AWAKENING

Chris Tucker

Chris Tucker counts the first time he played James Carter as his favorite. He told The Georgia Straight, “It was the first Rush Hour because I had to transition into, I guess, a man,” he said. “It was kind of like I had to create another character that would appeal to everybody. I always wanted to do a movie like Eddie Murphy’s Beverly Hills Cop that captured a big audience. And it was really successful around the world. So I think that was one of my most rewarding characters.” But as things often do, they change.

It was a quarter of a century ago when Chris Tucker found his Christianity. Before this time, he had no problem getting as raunchy as needed for a role or for his stand up. “I never was a raunchy, raunchy comic but I didn’t think about what I was saying because I was young,” he continued to tell The Georgia Straight. But now? “Being a Christian helps me in comedy. I have to talk about other stuff. Normally, most comics talk about stuff that’s easy—maybe cussing or saying something raunchy. I have to dig deeper to find something that’s still funny and not raunchy. It’s harder. I like the challenge.”

Netflix special

Chris Tucker now seems to be much more introspective. “Everybody’s doing raunchy comedy,” Tucker says. “I go to comedy clubs and it’s like, ‘All right, how raunchy can you get?’ And it’s really not that funny to me. What’s funny to me is being creative and talking about stuff that I wouldn’t have thought about.”

All the above was said before Chris Tucker resumed his stand up back in 2014. But since the last Rush Hour came out in 2007, Tucker has been beyond picky with his roles. In fact, he has appeared in only two movies since that time. Both were small parts, one in Silver Linings Playbook and then the war drama Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk. Two movies in 13 years. But wait!

RUSH HOUR 4?

Chris Tucker returns

Can it be? Rush Hour 4 has been long talked about (uh, 13 years?) and long agreed that it was going to happen. It has been announced that the film will begin production “soon” but the official word on Rush Hour 4 is not so official. The on-again, off-again movie is…on and off again! Both stars, Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan, have expressed interest and even announced they are ready to go. In fact, in one of the many instances Tucker has said yes, he posed here with Chan, each holding up four fingers.

One of the last updates on the possibility of the movie came from Chris Tucker when he said on the Winging It podcast, “We’re working on a few things on the script right now, so we’re trying to get into production, but we’re working on it and trying to get it going. Jackie Chan wants to do it, I want to do it, the studio wants to do it, so we’re trying to get it together.”  

Unfortunately, not long after Tucker posted the Instagram photo, Jackie Chan’s management company shot down hopes in this statement. In part, the company claims, “We have noticed that false information that Mr Chan would act in the motion pictures Rush Hour 4 and The Karate Kid 2 is spreading through multiple social media platforms, and that certain apparently infringing parties have misappropriated the personal WeChat and email accounts of Mr Esmond Rend, a motion picture industry professional, to release false information concerning the hiring of the crew, casting, audition and other matters in connection with the pictures Rush Hour 4 and The Karate Kid 2. With respect to the above information, on behalf of Mr Chan, we hereby declare that any and all such information, as spread by such infringers, relating to Mr Chan providing or about to provide acting services in the motion pictures Rush Hour 4 and The Karate Kid 2 is false.”

So now what? We hope a Rush Hour 4 is in the works, but who knows at this point. What we also hope is that the highly selective Chris Tucker finds his way back on to the big screen, in some shape or form, whether it be as James Carter or another version. His comedic talent is undeniable, something we hope he will continue to share.

In the meantime Chris Tucker seems happy enjoying his life…

And doing work for charity…

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