My first exposure to Chris Tucker was in 1998 when I went with a group of friends to watch Rush Hour. I didn’t see Friday or Jackie Brown until I was in college and was free to watch whatever cinematic choices my heart desired without having to first run them past my parents for a “senseless vulgarity” check. And I somehow missed The Fifth Element until just a few years ago. (For this I have no excuse, just the shame of missing out on probably the greatest combination of latex and Milla Jovovich that ever was.) What I remember the most about the Rush Hour screening is that leaving the theater, and for at least the rest of the summer, my friends found every possible opportunity to use Tucker’s line, “Do you understand the words that are coming out of my mouth?”
Since Rush Hour, Chris Tucker has made a total of three films — two of them being Rush Hour sequels. If you look at Tucker’s IMDb page, his movie credits list is short but relatively solid. While other actors might have far more roles, they’ve also got a lot more duds in the lineup, where Tucker has very few. Meteor Man and House Party 3 aren’t exactly classics, but if you look at Tucker’s films after Friday, most of them have been at least somewhat successful. Jackie Brown is arguably Quentin Tarantino’s weakest film — some of us legitimately enjoyed Death Proof more — but it’s still a pretty solid flick; the Rush Hour movies brought in gobs of cash; and Silver Linings Playbook was nominated for five Oscars. Even Tucker’s 1997 film, Money Talks, holds a respectable 6.1 on IMDb, which is like a 7.0 on the Brett Ratner scale.
In 2006 Tucker had reportedly negotiated a base salary of $25 million for Rush Hour 3 and it later went on to make $258 million. So if movie-going audiences enjoy Chris Tucker’s movies, why has his movie career slowed down to the point of almost nonexistent? With today being Chris Tucker’s 42nd birthday, I decide to do a little detective work into why he only makes a movie every five years and what he’s been up to besides hosting last year’s BET Awards.
Tax Problems — 2011
It turns out that when you own a $6 million mansion and neglect your home owner’s taxes, the IRS notices. (Have we learned nothing about paying taxes from Willie Nelson?!) Here’s what People magazine had to say about the issue:
Court documents reportedly show an $11.5 million IRS lien on the home in 2011 in order to collect federal income taxes from Tucker, whose monthly mortgage payment, the documents also show, was $25,812.50.
There has been no comment from Tucker, but the Times Union of Albany, N.Y., reports that his comedy show scheduled in the city for this Sunday – and was a rescheduling of a postponed Sept. 3 performance – has been canceled because of “unforeseen circumstances.”
Now I’m sure that Tucker could have tacked on a last-minute “keep me out of jail” surcharge of $500 per ticket to resolve the money issue, but the kindly residents of Albany would have probably had some questions. Instead, this was likely one of Tucker’s big motivators for taking a role in Silver Linings Playbook the following year. The IRS and the possibility of going to “federal pound-me-the-ass prison” has a way of boosting one’s work ethic.
Tucker’s Life with Frank Sinatra that just didn’t happen — 2007
In 2007, it was reported that Chris Tucker would team up with director Brett Ratner for the fifth time to do Mr. S: My Life with Frank Sinatra. The movie was to be based on George Jacobs’ biography of the same name and would put Tucker in the role of valet to Ol’ Blue Eyes. Then the economy turned to sh*t, New Line Cinema downsized, and Tucker’s life with Sinatra fizzled out.
“Well, the break wasn’t planned—it just happened that way,” says Tucker at a hotel in midtown Manhattan. “I waited a long time and the right things weren’t coming to me—the roles I was offered weren’t that challenging—so I started trying to develop a bunch of projects for myself.” Via Daily Beast
During this time, Tucker moved back to his native Atlanta and turned his focus back to his stand-up with plans of releasing a concert film in the vein of his childhood hero, Eddie Murphy.
“It’s going to be like Eddie Murphy’s Raw or Richard Pryor: Live on the Sunset Strip,” he says with a grin. “That’s my dream because those are my idols who I grew up watching.”
That was back in 2012 and for whatever reason, his stand-up concert movie has yet to be released. As of March 2014, Tucker’s special was under the working title Standing on the Edge with a proposed spring release. Tomorrow is September 1, so maybe he’s shooting for either an incredibly late or incredibly early spring release. If you really want a Chris Tucker stand-up special, I’d suggest making your own bootleg of his concert next week in Oakland. Just say that you’re doing an IRS documentary investigation piece if anybody gives you lip.
Potential future projects
Back to Chris Tucker not making movies, though. It’s a topic that comes up a lot in his interviews, but he admits it still takes him a bit by surprise when people ask “where have you been?”
“It surprises me sometimes (when people wonder where I’ve been) because I’m always working,” Tucker said in a phone interview. “I’m on the road a lot. Last year, I was all over Australia and the Middle East. If you follow me on Twitter then you know.”
“Wow, sounds like he’s a real road warrior, I wonder how many dates are on his tour and when he’s coming to my town?” Two. There are two dates on his calendar and unless you live in Oakland or Detroit, he’s not coming to your town. So again, why isn’t Chris Tucker making movies?
AVC: You’re probably asked this question a lot, but why do you make so few films?
CT: You know what? It’s not on purpose. It’s just, I have a great life, I just live, and when something comes around… You know, I’ve been touring for the last five, six years, on the road doing stand-up, doing theaters and stuff like that, so whenever something good comes around I’ll do it, but no particular reason.
Just livin’ the good life, fair enough. As for Chris Tucker’s next movie, who knows when that will happen. IMDb lists Rush Hour 4 as “just announced” and there’s also the slight possibility of him reuniting with Ice Cube for one last Friday adventure.
“The studios want to do it and they want to get a good script, and I’m willing to look at it and see if it’s something cool. I’m trying to help them come up with some ideas and be a part of the producing process with Cube and see if we can come up with something. “
So, considering that Silver Linings Playbook came out in 2012, we can maybe look forward to that next Friday movie around 2017.