Q & A with Jackie Chan
He's the guy who dangled from a helicopter, slid down a 21-story building and jumped off a cliff onto a hot air balloon. But nothing took more courage for superstar Jackie Chan than facing a college audience and speaking in English. It was a first-time experience for the actor whose dangerous stunts and comedic genius have made him a global hero.
"I'm really, really nervous," he told a cheering crowd. "I'm honored and scared." Jackie was about to shake things up at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, a sedate southern university with a Colonial flavor. He was there at the invitation of Mitchell Reiss, Dean of International Affairs and Director of the Reves Center for International Studies.
The Center was sponsoring a week-long Jackie Chan film festival (students got one college credit for attending and writing a paper) and Reiss wanted to cap it with Jackie in the flesh. "It was a daunting challenge for him," Reiss says, but Jackie finally agreed to show up as long as he didn't have to give a speech. (It's one of the two things he's afraid of. The other is needles). He settled for an afternoon question and answer session with the students.
Tickets were free and became a hot item. Most were distributed at the College and a limited number were offered to the public. They got snapped up in 15 minutes. Some people camped out overnight in sleeping bags to be first in line.
You could feel the excitement in the huge athletic hall hung with W & M banners, where a temporary stage had been set up flanked by two screens. The lights went down and the screens came alive with a montage of clips from Jackie's films
By the time Jackie made his entrance, the college crowd had warmed to a fever pitch. He was greeted with clapping, cheering and stomping feet. Jackie broke into a big grin, grabbed the mike and confessed how nervous he was. "Right now my heart is beating. I'm 37 years in the film business, doing stunts, difficult actions and I'm never scared." He wasn't sure he had anything to say to "well-educated students," but he decided "if I do not try once, I never try in my whole life. I'm not going to die. Today I'm here!"
Jackie is wearing a black silk suit and a simple white T-shirt. He looks slim, tanned, very fit and smaller than he appears on screen. He talks a blue streak in his charming English (a challenge for the woman using sign language whose fingers are flashing nearby), and he never seems to stand still.
The stage is an arena where he jabs, kicks and leaps, twists into animal poses, shoots an imaginary gun, blocks a punch, does a flip (screams from the audience) and dances. He also sings, but that comes later.
Jackie has them in the palm of his hand for more than an hour. He is funny, modest, endearing and down-to-earth. He talks openly about his tough childhood, his brutal training at the Hong Kong opera school, Hollywood's attempt to turn him into Clint Eastwood 20 years ago, his involvement with all aspects of film making from camera angles to editing, and his insistence that there are "no sex things, no F-words, no dirty jokes" in his family-oriented movies.
Reiss shuffles a handful of index cards with previously submitted questions, and Jackie tells an audience of 3,000 that he's "come here to learn something. Now gimme the questions!"
Q&A with Jackie
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO BECOME AN ACTOR?
It's a story that begins when he's left by his parents at the Hong Kong Beijing Opera School when he was only 6 1/2 years old. He remembers the tough training there, practicing from 5 a.m. to noon and not allowed to go to the bathroom. "You couldn't pee in the morning, because your sweat was the pee."
He became a child actor in Hong Kong at the age of seven and began to love making movies, because, "I have one lunch box and can eat by myself, and I'm away from training and can sleep." When he left the opera school at 17, and became a "low-class stuntman. I make $10 a day, $20 for a dangerous stunt. It takes me four months to save up for one pair of Levis." His dream was to become a stunt coordinator.
YOU'RE A HERO TO MANY PEOPLE. WHO IS YOUR HERO?
"Superman and Batman when I was young, my Master and Bruce Lee. Now my real heroes are Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin and Harold Lloyd. Also Steven Spielberg and George Lucas. Really geniuses."
CAN YOU SHOW AN EXAMPLE OF MARTIAL ARTS?
This sets off a display of Jackie's skills as he runs through various styles he's studied over the years, from traditional kung fu, to the influence of Bruce Lee, to his transition from Chinese martial arts to action/comedy. "I kept on changing from old kung fu, to difficult action to dangerous stunts. Don't learn from me," he warns. "This is not for young kids."
WILL YOU EVER PLAY A VILLIAN? IT DID A LOT FOR JET LI.
"Jet Li took his chance, but he's a role model in Asia and they don't like Mel Gibson beating up on Jet Li." Jackie says he turned down the role of a bad guy in a Michael Douglas film and the part of a drug dealer in Sylvester Stallone's proposed Rambo IV, "because so many children in Asia watch me."
COULD HE SING "WAR?"
Jackie laughs. "I'm a very good singer, but not rap." He learned English from TV news and listening to country music, he says. In country songs "they speak slowly, so you can understand." He sings a bit of Willie Nelson's "You Were Always on My Mind" (more screams) and croons a few bars of the Elvis classic, "I Can't Help Falling in Love with You." He IS a good singer.
DOES HE WORRY ABOUT HURTING HIMSELF AS HE GETS OLDER?
"Editing helps your career. That's why I'm still here. I know how to fight and I know camera angles." He illustrates one technique. At 30 when you fight, you take one step backwards, at 40 you take two steps, at 50 or 60 ten steps back! Editing is the most important. That's the trick."
WERE YOU EVER CHALLENGED TO A FIGHT?
"Long time ago in Hong Kong. After I changed character and played the underdog in movies-two people I fight, four and I run away-nobody challenged me."
DO YOU PREFER MAKING MOVIES IN HONG KONG, THE U.S. OR SOMEWHERE ELSE?
I like Hong Kong because you have control and can just go out and do it. American is more professional, make sure the actor is safe, but sometimes when it takes too long, the mood is gone."
IF YOU COULD CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT YOURSELF, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
Jackie hesitates and looks almost shy. He searches for the right word and says it in Chinese for his cameraman to translate. Then he faces the crowd and says humbly, "I want to be a scholar. When I was young I didn't understand how important is education. I was gambling, fooling around. Who cares? Education is important now and especially in the future." He still needs help reading English and is struggling to learn about computers.
WILL THERE BE A SEQUEL TO RUSH HOUR?
"Yes, it will start filming this year with Chris Tucker. It will be shot in Hong Kong, China, San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York and Las Vegas. You can imagine Chris Tucker in Hong Kong. That's MY hood, not his hood."
SOURCE: KUNGFU MAGAZINE
Jackie Chan Answers alot of questions!!! Rambo 4, The Accidental Spy, Drunken Master 2 + More!!!Folks, Harry here with our Guy on the site of a fairly rare live Jackie Chan talk... Personally, would it not be the coolest thing in the world to take Jackie Chan into the toughest bar in the world... get drunk and just watch him kick ass with various bar stools, pool cues, bowls of peanuts and beer bottles? Sigh... It is just a dream. hehehe... Anyway, if you're a Jackie Chan fan... this is the report for you... He spills on quite a bit. Personally I'm not looking forward to the new score on DRUNKEN MASTER 2... Especially since that score was BEAUTIFUL as it was. Here's Guy...
Hello internet movie buffs!
I just got back to my dorm room from a Q&A session with the man, Jackie Chan. He's at William and Mary down here in Williamsburg, VA for parent's weekend, which is amazing since we don't get many celebrity speakers. Apparently this was the first time he had spoken at a college or university before. Naturally he was amazing! Very energetic and happy to be in front of a crowd of rabid college fans. He said far too many interesting details about his life and his work to mention here so I'll hit the highlights (and be sure to check out bullet point #11):
1) Rush Hour 2 begins shooting Nov 6 in Hong Kong. The shooting schedule has him and Tucker travelling to San Francisco, LA, New York and Vegas. Apparently this time out the roles will be reversed with Tucker being the fish out of water in Hong Kong. As Jackie put it "This time he's in my 'hood!"
2) He had been approached a few years ago about playing the bad guy in Rambo 4, but turned it down since he feels that alot of kids look up to him and he wants to be a good role model, ergo he never plays the villian. This time though it was especially hard for him to turn down since he has always admired Stallone (he told a very moving anecdote about how Rocky really did change the course of his life) and really wanted to work with him. Additionally the character was a drug dealer and Jackie has a very personal reason for not wanting to play any character associated with drugs (his father made him promise to never do drugs and he takes the promise very seriously). Apparently though, the feeling was mutual and Stallone is supposed to be working on a revised script in which Jackie and Rambo are both good guys.
3) Along similar lines as #2, he had been offered a chance to play the villian in a Michael Douglas movie in the 80s. He was really torn, but again decided to turn it down because he wanted to continue to be a good role model.
4) When asked about working with Sammo Hung again, he said that he and Sammo have talked about the idea, but that it probably wouldn't be until next year as both are very busy.
5) The person he'd most like to work with is Jodie Foster since her career reminds him a lot of his own (child actor -> actor -> director).
6) He's very, very excited about the pending wide US release of Drunken Master 2 since he's very proud of the final scene, and he says it will be the first chance that a wide audience will have to see "a real Hong-Kong style action film" since most of the other films of his that have made it over here have been seriously Americanized. In this regard he particular wants people to note the long takes and full-body shots that make the audience realize that these fights are real, not the result of alot of editing tricks. He also mentioned that the film will be graced with a new score and dub.
7) Along similar lines he really loves his saturday morning cartoon on the WB since it introduces young kids to him. He also made certain that all the kids know what the real-life Jackie Chan looks like.
8) His idols include Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, Bruce Lee, and his master at the opera school.
9) He tends to prefer Hong Kong style filmaking since there's less waiting around, more doing. He said on Rush Hour he found it some what annoying that every time he wanted to do a stunt it would have to be cleared by the safety people and producers. He did say though he thought the technical quality (film stock, sound editing, etc) of American films were much better. He mentioned that over the past few years he's been trying to meld the American and Hong Kong styles. He also noted that every year he puts out an American film (Rush Hour, Shanghai Noon) and a Hong Kong film (Rumble in the Bronx, Who am I?).
10) Jackie gave a lengthy talk about martial arts styles, punctuated be several demonstrations! He mentioned that in his early films he used more traditional, and more beatiful looking styles. More recently he's been working on faster, modern style fights, but he'd like to use some of the old stuff again (another reason he's very happy about the Drunken Master 2 rerelease). He also talked about adapting his style as he gets older to allow for the fact that even he isn't quite as agile as he used to be.
11) Just to make this report go to 11 Chan ended with an exclusive first look at the trailer to his new film, The Accidental Spy, which he also directed. It's set in Turkey, and has Chan through as series of plot twists ending up as a spy. He didn't know yet if the film would get released over here or not. The trailer had some amazing action including a funny bit with Jackie getting pushed around on a slippery floor like an air-hockey puck, the usual fast-and-furious kung fu, some neet car chases and a terrific number with a giant white tarp that drew great applause. Looks to be a terrific film!
So there you have it! Truly a great day down here in Va!