1. How did you get involved in the Gorgeous Project?
The Producers wanted to maintain the tradition of the Jackie Chan film for the Chinese New Year season. However, time was too short for a regular action movie my style. Hence, the idea of a comedy emphasizing on romance instead of
action came up. Everyone thought it was a novelty idea. Cameras started rolling 2 weeks after the idea was conceived.
2. Have you ever worked with the actors from Gorgeous prior to this project? In what capacity?
No, mainly because the other cast members are not really of the action genre. But it turned [out] great. The leading actress Shu Qi, with her broken Cantonese (this might not be noticed in America) turned out to be perfect for the part. And Tony Leung of Cannes fame, proved himself to be a great actor
in comedy as well. It was so easy to establish rapport with him.
3. What is your favorite scene in Gorgeous? Why?
The dance with Shu Qi at the Paper Factory. Well, it's not actually just a simple dance. It's an opportunity to use the environment to improvise and
choreograph the dance, just as I do in my action sequences. The action scenes too are of course my favorites as well, especially the duel with my student Bradley Allan. Guess I'm still an action guy at least.
4. Did you have any input on the stunt choreography in the movie?
Of course! I can leave the romance and comedy sequels to the Director but the action scenes are my own "babies". I'll never let them be shot without my input and involvement.
5. In the use of color and symbolism in the film significant? How?
Sorry but I don't really understand what you mean by this question! If you are referring to the scenes with the dolphins, etc., it is because the Directory wanted to give the entire film a fairy tale kind of feel.
6. Gorgeous is your first romantic film. Were you concerned about the reaction it would receive from your fans?
Not really. I'm lucky that most of the fans in Asia have been with me for a long time now, many from the tie when they were just school kids. They have all grown up now, some even with families of their own. They can now accept me in a romantic role. Guess I've graduated from the "idol" stage to a real "actor"!
7. Was it a challenge for you to play a romantic lead?
Yes, especially the bits that involve a lot of conversation under a moonlit sky! Fortunately, there were no bed scenes. As for the kiss in the ending scene, well if it was a challenge, I think I came out alright! Don't you?
8. Do you prefer shooting in Asia or the U.S.? Why?
Both sides have its good points. Hollywood is good for scheduling and budget control but it perhaps a little bit too restricted by union rules and regulations. Asia has much more flexibility in terms of daily work and scheduling but unfortunately, as a result, many film (especially mine!) ends up over-budget! It'll be great to marry the two systems together. I especially envy the big budget that my American counterparts get to work with.
9. To date, what has been your most exciting film project? Why?
My most exciting project is always the next project I'll be working on. I give a film all I have when I'm doing it but the minute it is finished, my mind is on the next one, which I am sure I can make better!
10. What type of the film projects are you working on now?
Right now, I'm in Istanbul, Turkey filming ACCIDENTAL SPY for Hong Kong's Golden Harvest. I consider this a "Chinese Film", which means I'm the Director, the scriptwriter, the actor, the choreographer, the editor and even maybe the music guy! In other words, I'm in full control. This kind of film I make with the taste of the Asian audience in mind. After ACCIDENTAL SPY, I
will go back to "Hollywood" production - RUSH HOUR 2, in which I'm just the actor! This is solely for the Western audience, and I leave the final say to the Producers, the Director and even the other cast members because I feel that they understand the Western tastes, their humor, and their culture much better. This will be my policy hence forth - one film for the West and then one for the East. I value both markets and I want to make both sides happy. It is really extremely difficult to make a film that will cater to both markets just as well.
Asia E! Online Jackie interview
by Joanne Soh
I'd rather die than idle my life away...
Though he has been in the movie industry for more than 30 years, there was no trace of fatigue on his face. Having left his mark in Hollywood two years ago with the success of Rush Hour, Asia's king of action Jackie Chan is poised once again to kick right back into Hollywood with his second American movie Shanghai Noon.
For someone who has attained astonishing achievements and the same amount of scars to go with it, Jackie should have retired to a life of luxury, but the megastar is not showing any signs of slowing down. On the contrary, the ambitious Jackie is taking the opportunity of his popularity in Hollywood to promote Chinese culture. In fact, he told us that he would not back down until he has become the first actor to bring home US$30 million.
Most people are curious about how you maintain your muscular physique. Do you consume any particular health tonics?
Definitely not but I do take huge quantities of fruits. My favorite food is green bean soup, and if it's possible, I'd take it 24 hours a day! There was one occasion when I went for a medical checkup in Australia where the doctor attributed my good health to the vast amount of green bean soup I'd consumed, as beans are very high in protein.
Shanghai Noon was very well received in the States. How did you come up the story idea?
To make a Western flick has always been the dream for most Asian kids. When I was six years old, I love wearing cowboy hats and playing with toy guns. The concept for Shanghai Noon dates back to 20 years ago when I was shooting a film in Texas. Looking at the green fields, rivers and people on horseback everyday sparked my desire to make a Western movie. I didn't have much confidence to venture into Hollywood until the breakthrough success of Rush Hour two years ago. From that time forth, movie scripts were sent to me almost every day. But the plot's always the same--either I'm a Hong Kong cop, or a Chinese assassin, or someone who goes running amok in Chinatown just to have his revenge. Why is it that we Chinese are always portrayed as killers or prostitutes in the States? After Gorgeous was completed, I broached some Hollywood producers about Shanghai Noon. They took to the story immediately and decided to make this Western-Far East movie.
Which scene in Shanghai Noon do you consider the most dangerous?
Actually, every scene we made was difficult, but they left fond memories. If I really have to name a particular scene, it'd have to be the one where I was fighting on the logs which were rolling off the train. That was tough as the train was moving and we didn't have any safety nets around. If we fell, we won't even know where we'll land!
Were you afraid when you filmed that scene?
Even if I was, I can't show it as there're heaps of onlookers around.
You're the undisputed hero of the Asian movie scene. And now, your prowess has penetrated into Hollywood. How do you feel about this?
In the beginning, I was rather troubled as I felt that Asian youths are very westernized and have lost their Chinese culture. But in recent years, this trend has changed and the Americans have cultivated a taste for Chinese culture. For instance, some American action movies have adopted the "Jackie-style" in their action choreography. Also, they like anything with Asian symbols like Chinese characters and dragons. That's why I've decided to bank on my current influence in Hollywood to promote our Chinese culture. I'm currently setting up my own fashion retail store on New York's 5th Avenue. You'll be able to find Chinese-styled clothes that I designed myself, Chinese masks, Chinese tea sets, and other Oriental stuff.
Do you feel a sense of pride when you went back to Hollywood to make Shanghai Noon?
When I was filming in the States 20 years ago, no one knew who I was. I was snubbed everywhere, and had to do everything myself. It's such a different story now. I've my own lighting crew, producers, directors, cinematographers, art directors... and all these people practically grew up watching my movies! I used to be in awe of American directors and scriptwriters. I really respect them. Now, the role seems to be reversed. They eagerly listen to my opinions and follow my directions. I'm so happy about it. Looking back, all those suffering that I've got through were worth it. It proved that my perseverance through those tough times have certainly paid off.
You're also one of the producers for Shanghai Noon and you managed to keep the "Jackie-style" in this movie. Do you think you've really conquered Hollywood?
No, no! I only want to increase my presence in Hollywood and make good movies there. They respect me now not because I've the ability to make my own Hollywood movies, but that they're the ones who invite me to film in Hollywood. And I'm also proud that I can still keep my style in the movies without having to resort to computer-generated effects. Moreover, in all my movies, regardless if it's Rush Hour or Shanghai Noon, you'll notice that there're no vulgarities in them. I made that very clear in my contract. My motto has always been "action without the violence, funny yet not crude". I'll definitely continue to be the producer in any future Hollywood projects to make sure a certain standard is maintained.
When you were preparing to venture into Hollywood, was language ever a barrier?
I underwent intensive English lessons the last time. I was worried that my pronunciation was inaccurate. Now my English is classified as "Jackie Chan English". If you can understand it, that's good. If not, too bad for you.
You were wearing authentic cowboy suits in Shanghai Noon and had to ride horses. Did you have problems riding them?
That was very tough. I took horse-riding lessons for about a month and I had to drive for an hour just to get to the instructor. The worst thing was that I have a fear for horses! Before I started my lessons, I read a piece of news where a Hong Kong lady died after she fell off a horse. Also, the picture of the paralyzed Superman Christopher Reeve was vivid in my head. When the instructor found out, he gave me a mini-lecture about horses before putting me on one. Through him, I learnt why cowboys dressed the way they do and why they're so skilled with horses. Though the fear gradually subsided, I still get the creeps whenever the horse starts galloping. I focused on the beautiful scenery to distract myself from the nervousness.
You were on snowy mountain tops in one scene and in the hot desert the next. Were they stressful to you?
Anyone who has filmed in Hong Kong or China would find filming in American a heaven! How can it be stressful? In Hong Kong, we have to do every single thing ourselves. In Hollywood, I really felt like a movie star. I've my own trailer, my own make-up artists, my personal bodyguards...they're very attentive to my needs.
In all your movies, your leading ladies are always the damsels in distress, waiting for you to rescue them. Is that the picture of your ideal woman? That they're demure and submissive?
My ideal woman? Well, I'm a very traditional person, probably influenced by my mom. I like women with long hair who don't wear much makeup. She also needs to be virtuous and docile. I usually portray the things I like in my movies, and that's why my leading ladies have to be my kind of woman.
Why did you cast Lucy Liu as Princess Pei Pei?
To be honest, I didn't know who Lucy was initially. It's the other producers who chose her. It was much later that I realized that she's very popular in Hollywood. I don't watch much television programs, at most, I only watch documentaries.
Now that you've worked with her, what do you think of her?
She's very good and professional. I like her attitude and she's such na active person! Initially, her role is someone who doesn't know martial arts, but since she like action movies so much, I added those kick-ass scenes for her.
How about Owen Wilson who's a budding scriptwriter, director and actor? Did he treat you like an idol?
Of course not! He's quite an introvert. But as we got to know each other better, he'd come over to my trailer every morning to report to me, and we'll have our meals and green bean soup together.
At the closing-credits blooper reel, Owen had an embarrassing incident where he farted in the bathtub. Did you have any similar situations in the movie?
Not in this one. I've lost count of all many embarrassing stuff in my movies! But the most unforgettable one was when I was filming Dragon Lords many years ago. There was one scene where I NG-ed more than 1,700 times! I was so hot and flustered that when I went for a shower, I stripped off my underwear unknowingly, as it became stuck to my clothes from all that perspiration. I only realized my blunder when I heard laughter from the fans nearby!
Do you intend to make a sequel to Shanghai Noon?
Yes, the details have just been settled. We'll probably start shooting next year. The storyline's roughly about my sister who flew over to America to look for me, and we'll fly to New York to look for some lost manuscript, and then we'll head over to London. Fly? I don't think airplanes were invented in the Qing Dynasty. Oh, I meant traveling by boat.
Can you tell us more about what's going to be in the script?
I'm sorry I won't. The last time I divulged a story idea to a fellow filmmaker, he actually stole my idea. That's the ugly side of an Asian.
How much are you paid for a film like this?
Let's say that Shanghai Noon II will see me richer by US$20 million.
You once said that your dream is to die on a stage. Now that you have a family and you're almost 50 years old with a tremendous success story. And you've had way too many injuries. Do you think this dream of yours has changed?
To die on a stage will be glorious to me. What I'm afraid of is that I may be like Christopher Reeve and become paralyzed. That will be hell. To be frank, each time I suffer an injury, the thought of quitting does come to my mind as the stunts are too dangerous. But I told myself that risks and injuries are part and parcel of movie making. I used to make movies for the sake of making money, but now, things have changed. I don't see monetary gains as a motivation to make movies anymore. I'm the highest paid actor in Asia now. It would be nice, though, to be able to take home a US$30 million paycheck, and truly be the World's No. 1.