LOS ANGELES Jackie Chan, whose martial arts movies made him a star around the world, has a new punch to pull. He wants to be a dramatic actor, not just an action star, and Steven Spielberg is going to help him do it.
"I don't like people always talking about Jackie Chan the action star. I want to be an actor. An actor has a life that goes on forever," Chan told reporters in an interview to promote his new comedy/action movie, "Rush Hour 2."
Chan, known worldwide for scores of Hong Kong-style martial arts films with English titles like "Marvelous Fists" (1982) or "Crime Story" (1993) said he is set to begin shooting on Sept. 10 a film called "Tuxedo" that Spielberg, the Oscar-winning director of films like "Schindler's List," will produce.
In the movie, Chan said, he plays a cab driver sent to the home of a wealthy man who has slipped into a coma and been hospitalized. Chan's cab driver is there retrieving personal items, but he can't resist slipping on the man's tuxedo.
That's the setup, but the cagey Chan declined to provide further details, saying he wasn't supposed to talk about the film, which is common practice before a release.
Chan did say "Tuxedo" will include some action, mostly drama, and a lot of special effects.
"I want to learn special effects," Chan said.
The 47-year-old star said he's not as limber as he was in his old Hong Kong-style martial arts movies. He once was able to jump-kick a villain from a standstill position, but now he has to take one step, he said.
Chan, who was trained at the Peking Opera, also said he wants to do more U.S. films, but doing so requires polishing his English and tuning up his acting skills. In his Hong Kong films he only had to fight, and that was enough to bring audiences into theaters and make him a star.
"Making an American film, I have to follow the script," he said, adding with a shake of his head and a smile. "English drives me crazy."
It wasn't until he'd become a star in Hong Kong and his videos were hits in the United States, that he returned with "Rumble in the Bronx," which won U.S. release in 1996 from New Line Cinema.
That film put his name on the U.S. moviemaking map, but Chan scored his first major hit here with 1998's "Rush Hour," which paired his martial arts skills with comedian Chris Tucker's sassy mouth. Chan played a Hong Kong cop sent to Los Angeles to rescue the kidnapped daughter of a Chinese diplomat. Tucker played the L.A. cop ordered to keep him out of trouble.
"Rush Hour" raked in $250 million in global ticket sales for its distributors at New Line, and now the team has re-formed for "Rush Hour 2", due in theaters on Aug. 3.
Chan and Tucker portray the same two cops, but this time Tucker's character travels to Hong Kong where they get involved in a crime which brings them back to Los Angeles and on to Las Vegas.