Jackie Chan Interview - Oct 2006
(Jackie Chan speaking on his upcoming UK release of New Police Story - in cinemas from 13 Oct 2006)
1. You've been experiencing great success in Hollywood , particularly with the Rush Hour and Shanghai films. Although you were still making appearances in Hong Kong films in between your Hollywood projects, New Police Story marked a major return to Hong Kong cinema for you. How and why did that come about?
The story of my involvement with New Police Story begins with director Benny Chan. He came to our company with an idea for a police movie, but at the time he wasn't thinking of me for the lead role. When I read the script, I became very interested because I had been thinking for some time that I would like to try more dramatic roles. Here was a role that combined action and drama in a way that I'd never tried before. It seemed like perfect timing; I'd done several American films and was anxious to film something here at home. After we reworked the script slightly, I felt ready to give it a try.
2. The film also represents a welcome return to form in terms of the "live" stunts and action sequences performed by you. Do you find Hollywood is overly restrictive in terms of what you are and are not allowed to do stunt-wise?
Filmmaking in Hollywood is very different from filmmaking in Hong Kong . In Hollywood I am restricted when it comes to action and stunts. There are so many safety and insurance rules to follow! I know that they want to make sure that I'm safe when I do my stunts, but sometimes they insist that I use protective gear for even simple things, and that is frustrating. It takes so much time! When I first started making Hollywood films, the directors wouldn't listen to anything I said when it came to the action. It's different now; the directors respect me and listen to me. Over the years I have gotten more involved in the planning of the action and stunts on my American movies and that makes me happy. But mostly it is difficult. In Hong Kong we just go ahead and do what needs to be done. There is no safety captain on the set; I use my own stunt team because they have experience and I trust them to make the action and stunts safe.
3. Physical restrictions aside, how has the Hollywood experience been for you? With Rush Hour 3 about to start filming, presumably it's not something you are about to turn your back on completely?
It was always my dream to be successful in Hollywood , and I was so excited when my American films started doing well there. I won't turn my back on Hollywood – I may be a little crazy, but I'm not stupid! Since I have fans in different parts of the world, making movies in both America and Asia can satisfy a lot of people. The movies that are popular in the West are often not as popular in Asia and vice versa. There's no doubt that Asians and Westerners have different tastes when it comes to film. I am happy to try to give everyone a good experience.
4. At the moment, it appears as though you are making movies for two different markets - Asia and America . Is that a fair comment and do you think it is possible to make a hit movie that would appeal to both in equal measure?
Yes, I do make movies with different markets in mind. As I said before, Asians have different tastes than the rest of the world and since such a large percentage of my fans live in Asia , I always want to make movies for them. Same goes for my fans in other parts of the world – I want everyone to be satisfied. I do think it's possible to make a movie that would be a hit in both Asia and America ; I think we're getting closer. The biggest problem is the language differences. Maybe someday everyone will speak the same language and there will be a movie that is a hit all over the world. Or maybe there will be a script with no need for words and that will be the worldwide hit. I hope I'm the one to make that film!!
5. Many of the action sequences in New Police Story are a vertigo-sufferer's nightmare, some of them taking place very high off the ground. How much control do you have in designing the action sequences and how do you go about coming up with more and more inventive situations?
I am always very involved in designing the action sequences in my films. For New Police Story, the director wanted to use the city of Hong Kong almost like another character in the movie. So when I started thinking about action and stunts for this film, I tried to think about the unique features of the city and tried to design stunts which would highlight them. Hong Kong is a city that was forced to grow vertically because of the limited space for building. Therefore, you see many scenes that involve heights!
6. New Police Story also features you in a far more dramatic role than many people will be used to seeing you play. Did this role represent a conscious change of direction for Jackie Chan as an actor?
Absolutely. For several years, I had wanted to try something more dramatic. Yes, it was a conscious choice to take this part; it's very different from anything that I'd ever done. I really enjoyed playing this role. Although it was difficult and very draining at times, I still enjoyed it.
7. You still manage to more than hold your own during the action sequences but nobody - not even Jackie Chan - can keep up that level of physicality forever. Do you intend to take on more similarly dramatic roles in the future?
In the future I'd love to do more dramatic work. After New Police Story, I did The Myth, which was another unique role for me. The character of General Meng Yi needed to convey his feelings and emotions without using many words. In my latest movie (Rob-B-Hood) I play an entirely different kind of character from those I'd played in my last few movies. Yes, I want to keep trying new things.
8. You're known for being very honest and candid with your opinions of your own movies. How do you think personally think New Police Story compares to your earlier movies, both the US and the Hong Kong productions?
I think New Police Story was an excellent movie, but if you know me, you know that I am never 100% satisfied with any of my films. I always think that I can make it better by changing this or that. If it were up to me, I would never finish making any one movie; I'd always be adding to it or taking something away. However, I am quite happy with New Police Story and think that it is one of the best that I've ever done.
9. Hopefully it will be a long way off, but are there any young actors around who you think could pick up the Jackie Chan action star mantle?
There are dozens – probably hundreds – of young actors who have the talent to do the kinds of movies that I've done during my career. But because of the situation that existed when I began making movies, I don't think there will ever be another Jackie Chan. When I started out, there really was nobody doing what I was doing – combining comedy with martial arts and daredevil stunts. Although there are many actors who have the talent, it would be hard to reproduce the circumstances that allowed me to have the level of success that I have had.
10. At one point you were scheduled to star in a remake of the old Jerry Lewis movie The Bellboy. Can you tell us what happened to that project?
I have no idea what happened with The Bellboy. I get many script offers and sometimes the press will report my involvement in one project or another before anything is finalized. With The Bellboy, there were a lot of people who thought that I would be successful doing the kind of physical comedy that Jerry Lewis did and so my name came up. Obviously, nothing ever came of that.
11. I once read you were a great fan of Sylvester Stallone and hoped to work with him sometime in the future. Does this mean we can expect to see you in Rambo 4?
I love Sylvester Stallone; we even used to be business partners. Although I haven't seen him in a while, I still hope to work with him someday. You know, the Chinese translation of Stallone includes the character for dragon, just like my name does. A lot of people would like to see a “meeting of the dragons” and maybe someday they will! So far we haven't found a script that works for both of us and our schedules for the past few years have been so hectic. Maybe someday we'll work together, but I don't think it would be Rambo 4!
12 . Are there any other people, in the US and Hong Kong , that you would like to work with on future projects?
Sure, there are a lot of people that I'd love to work with! I think I would drop everything to be directed by Steven Spielberg in a film. I've always wanted to work with the Scott brothers (Ridley and Tony) and I would love to act with Dustin Hoffman. Another dream I've had for a long time is to collaborate with Zhang Yimou on a project. We've met several times in the past year or so to discuss making a movie about the landmines in Cambodia . But then he was selected to produce the show for the 2008 Olympics, so I don't know when we'll be able to work on that project. The script is already written; we just have to find time to get together and make the movie.
13 . It's been quite some time since you've directed a movie. Do you have any plans to return to directing any time soon?
I really miss directing! When I am finished with Rush Hour 3 and a project with Jet Li, I plan to start directing again. In fact, right now I am putting together a pre-production team to begin research. I have a great idea for a script that has to do with a true story of antiquities that were stolen from the Forbidden City during the war and about recovering them. I hope to begin work on that next year.