Just because an actor finds fame in their home country doesn’t mean they’ll be embraced by audiences worldwide. But when Jackie Chan karate-chopped his way onto the silver screens in America, people instantly warmed up to him and his action-packed films.
Beneath the fierce bravery, insane stunt work, and years of martial arts training, however, is a gentle-spirited person who deserves all of the accolades he’s received. In life, there are those who Chan and those who Channot. You better believe Jackie sure Chan.
1. From the age of 11 to 17, Chan was enrolled at the Chinese Opera Research Institute preparing for a career in theater. Though he released multiple music albums and received Japan’s Best Foreign Singer Award, he pursued a life in martial arts.
2. Even though Chan is known for performing some risky stunts during filming, he does have a crew of stuntmen available. However, much of the time he uses them for simple body stand-ins.
3. Chan is famous for fending off criminals in his films, but at one point the notorious Triad gang in China gave him real problems. Chan confronted them equipped with weapons and they left him alone. That’s some real courage.
4. While filming a scene from a 1986 movie titled Armour of God, Chan fell out of a tree and smashed his head on a rock. After surgery requiring a metal plate in his head, he now has a permanent quarter-sized indent in his skull.
5. It’s not unusual for members of film productions to have more than one credit at the end. Chan landed himself a Guinness World Record for having 15 credits in the film Chinese Zodiac.
6. In 2006 the idea of clean-air transportation got him excited enough to open his own Segway dealership. Unfortunately, Segways weren’t cheap and the dealership struggled to really to take off.
7. Chan and comedian Chris Tucker had audiences laughing with the Rush Hour films, but believe it or not, Chan didn’t like them. He said “Chris Tucker’s English, I don’t understand. Terrible movie!”
8. Chan’s family comes from a sordid past. His parents left him at a Hong Kong boarding school while trying to escape the Communist regime in the 1950s, and they got tangled up in criminal activity shortly after.
9. While visiting London in 2010, Chan went to a Build-a-Bear shop and left with two pandas he named Chan La and Chan Zy. He apparently never leaves home without his faithful friends, even taking them to the Academy Awards in 2017.
10. During the filming of Wheels On Meals, Chan thought world kickboxing champion Benny Urquidez was hitting him unnecessarily hard during a scene, and the actors almost fought for real. Luckily, the crew diffused the situation.
11. Sometimes actors take whatever roles they can to make ends meet. When Chan was 31, he appeared in an adult Japanese film called All in the Family. Chan actually shot a scene wearing just his birthday suit!
12. One of Chan’s biggest breaks was given to him not long after high school by a director who needed an intricate and dangerous stunt done in one take. Chan volunteered and nailed it not once, but twice perfectly.
13. Chan has been a familiar face around Hollywood for quite some time now, but he’s admitted the industry as a whole confuses him. He says he doesn’t quite understand American humor and the need for constant thrills.
14. The actors in Chan’s 1982 film Dragon Lord got a dose of his perfectionist directing when he filmed 2,900 takes for the opening 10-minute scene! He earned himself a Guinness World Record for his tedious effort.
15. Chan gets all the credit for his action-packed stunts, but there’s actually a whole team responsible for his daredevil moves. Chan started a stuntman association called Sin Kar Pan, and this group of trusted friends helps Chan pull off his epic feats.
16. Pulling off jaw-dropping action scenes doesn’t come without its broken bones and injured muscles. Chan puts his life at risk on every movie set, and he’s suffered multiple broken noses, spine damage, and severe blows to the head because of it.
17. Directors have offered Chan the role of movie villains, but the martial arts star won’t take them. Even though early in his career he played no-name street thugs in Bruce Lee movies, he sticks to good-guy characters now.
18. A guy who kicks as much tail as Jackie Chan needs to sport some flashy clothing, and that’s why he started a line of casual, athletic, and high-end attire called Jackie Chan Design. He can leap from building to building, looking stylish while doing it.
19. Chan never stops trying to make the world a better place. He runs The Jackie Chan Charitable Foundation, which raises money for natural disaster survivors, and he’s involved with the Make-a-Wish Foundation, as well.
20. Chan has been approached by many companies over the years to star in advertisements, and an oddly high number of those particular companies fell on hard times soon afterward. This weird string of bad luck had news outlets speculating if the actor is cursed.
21. Jackie Chan provided insights into the world of martial arts in The Art of Action: Martial Arts in Motion Picture. The film was narrated by Samuel L. Jackson, another movie star with a stunning history that could surprise even his biggest fans…
22. Jackson had a difficult upbringing and was raised primarily by his mother and his grandparents. In fact, he only met his real father a mere two times over the course of his entire life.
23. Jackson graduated high school in Chattanooga, Tennessee, at Riverside High School. While he was growing up, he attended several secretly segregated schools. Racism was still very much prevalent in the area where he lived.
24. You’d never believe this based on his movie roles, but when Jackson was young, he had a bad stuttering problem that embarrassed him greatly. Thankfully, it didn’t stop him from becoming the star he is today.
25. It would have been a shame if someone as talented as Jackson never gave acting a chance, but that was almost what happened! He initially wanted to pursue a degree in marine biology but changed his mind after he took an acting class and fell in love with it.
26. Jackson is incredibly proud of his heritage and takes an active role in Black History Month every year. He actually attended the funeral of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. after his 1968 assassination and was even one of the ushers.
U.S. Embassy New Delhi / Flickr
27. In 1969, Jackson and a group of classmates held his college’s board of trustees hostage and demanded curriculum reform. The college agreed to make changes, but Jackson was charged and convicted of unlawful confinement, which is a second-degree felony.
28. After Jackson was convicted, he received a two-year suspension from college during which he worked in Los Angeles as a social worker. He traveled to Atlanta during this time and became heavily involved in the Black Power movement.
29. Jackson doesn’t limit his work to movies and television. In 1976, he moved to New York City and spent the next 10 years acting in a variety of stage plays, some of which were shown at the Yale Repertory Theater.
30. During Jackson’s 10-year stint in New York City, he fell into drugs and alcohol. His addiction caused him to be unfit to perform in two highly regarded plays. But, after he cleaned up his act, he starred in A Soldier’s Play and bonded with director Spike Lee.
31. A lot of actors had mentors early in their careers so they could learn from someone who had experience in the industry. Jackson is said to have been mentored for a brief time by Academy Award-winning actor Morgan Freeman.
32. During the early ’90s, Jackson fell back into drugs and even overdosed twice. When his family found out about his drug use, he entered a New York rehabilitation clinic, which he completed successfully.
33. After Jackson successfully completed rehab, he starred in the movie Jungle Fever, where he played a crack-cocaine addict. He earned a Best Supporting Actor Award at the 1991 Cannes Film Festival for the role.
34. After his breakout role in Jungle Fever, Jackson exploded in popularity. Over the next several years, he starred in Strictly Business, Juice, Patriot Games and National Lampoon’s Loaded Weapon. He also worked with acclaimed director Steven Spielberg on Jurassic Park.
35. After Jackson’s role in the movie True Romance, director Quentin Tarantino personally contacted him and asked him to play the character of Jules Winnfield in Pulp Fiction. Tarantino had actually written the role specifically for him.
36. When Jackson learned the character of Jules Winnfield was written with him in mind, he was incredibly overwhelmed. He said, “To know that somebody had written something like Jules for me. I was overwhelmed, thankful, arrogant – this whole combination of things that you could be.”
37. Jackson starred in 30 movies prior to Pulp Fiction, but Tarantino’s film was the one that finally launched him into international success. Entertainment Weekly said, “As superb as Travolta, Willis, and Keitel are, the actor who reigns over Pulp Fiction is Samuel L. Jackson.”
38. Every actor has their ups and downs while in Hollywood. After Pulp Fiction, Jackson was in a number of films that didn’t perform well, such as Kiss of Death and The Great White Hype. But, he finally earned himself a Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actor for A Time To Kill.
39. After his supporting role in A Time To Kill, Jackson went on to have plenty more commercial success for the remainder of the ’90s with films like Jackie Brown, 187, Sphere, The Negotiator and Deep Blue Sea. In 2000, he earned a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
40. Jackson was deeply praised for his role in the 2005 hit sports drama, Coach Carter. What could have been a very cliche character was given depth by Jackson. Many film reviewers were impressed.
41. In 1980, Jackson married his longtime girlfriend LaTanya Richardson who was also an actor and sports channel producer. Two years later, their daughter Zoe was born. Jackson and his wife even started their own charity in 2009, which supports education.
42. Jackson loves his sports, especially golf and basketball. He actually has a clause written into many of his film contracts that allows him to play golf during film shoots. He’s even played in the Gary Player Invitational Charity golf tournament.
43. In 2013, Jackson teamed up with Prizeo and launched a campaign that raised money in the fight against Alzheimer’s. People who made donations were entered into a contest, and the winner flew to the United Kingdom and ate lunch with Jackson himself!
44. Even with his busy schedule, Jackson always tried to stay healthy. He began a vegan diet in 2013 and lost a whopping 40 pounds because of it. He also launched a campaign called One For The Boys that educated men about testicular cancer.
45. Jackson worked heavily with the black community and earned himself an NAACP Image Award for his efforts. This was an amazing honor for him since he grew up in very segregated area of the country.
46. When Jackson was cast as a Jedi named Mace Windu in Star Wars, he suggested that he wield a purple lightsaber. Directors took his suggestion, much to the dismay of fans around the world, and no other character has had a purple lightsaber since.
47. In 2004, Jackson starred in a movie called Twisted, which received a startling two percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. But, later that year, he voiced the character Frozone in The Incredibles, which garnered a 97 percent approval rating. Talk about a comeback!
48. The cult hit movie Snakes On A Plane became immensely popular even before it was shown in theaters, but it seemed like an unconventional choice for Jackson. He admitted that the only reason he did the movie was because he loved the title.
49. Jackson’s entire filmography includes over 100 movies! He’s also made countless appearances on television and in documentaries, and has received numerous awards for his work outside of acting, as well.