Most people know Chris Tucker as Smokey from “Friday”, or from his role in “Jackie Brown”, and if you don’t know those movies, you definitely know him as one of the two stars of the “Rush Hour” series. He also is a talented stand up comic, a giving and thankful humanitarian and just an all around high-minded guy, but you might not know that because one thing he doesn’t do, is a lot of long interviews. Earlier this week he sat down for an hour with SiriusXM host Ron Bennington, for an episode of the ongoing series, Unmasked.
Chris talked about how he got so many of his breaks, and his determination to keep his life in balance, and the result has been a well deserved, but blessed life. Here are 5 reasons why.
1. Chris Tucker Has the Most Famous Friends in the World.
Everyone likes Chris, and he’s friends with the big guns. And not just in comedy– he’s liked, respected and sought out by some of the most powerful, and smartest names we can think of. Names like Bill Clinton, Quincy Jones, Sidney Poitier, Michael Jackson, and Bono are just a few of the people who will just call Chris up to hang out or to ask him to work on a personal project. As Bennington pointed out, “That’s the deep end of the pool.”
2. Chris Tucker Stays Open and Keeps Moving
Call it timing, call it good fortune, call it luck– but none of it matters if you don’t stay open and keep moving. At least that’s what Chris says is responsible for so many of the good projects and breaks that came his way over the years. He candidly admits that “none of it was planned. ” He added, “I just kept moving and moving.” He talked about how many times he lost one opportunity but that led to another one– like when he was disqualified from his first comedy competition for not having enough material, but then got picked to appear on HBO’s Def Comedy Jam which led to so many other successes for him:
I was blessed because as soon as I got out there, they had auditions for def comedy jam. And I went to Oakland for the Bay Area competition. I didn’t win the competition– I got disqualified cause I didn’t have enough time– enough material. But I got picked to be one of the first comedians on the Def Comedy Jam, this new HBO show that featured all these young comedians. And I was the first comedian and I was on the show with the famously known Bernie Mac. And that was just a hit right off the bat. It was the second season, so it already had this big popularity and then I came on the first new season that everybody was anticipating. And then I got the notoriety, and started making money on the road touring.
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3. Chris Tucker Has Faith, and his Family Had Faith
He believes that his background in the church and his faith in God is absolutely responsible for many of the good things that have come his way. But it’s not just his own faith that’s helped him:
Chris Tucker: Well I was raised in church and my mother was raised in church, I think her prayers and my grandma prayers, my great grandaddy prayers. I think those were definitely the reasons why things happened.
Ron Bennington: I’m going to leave here and scream at my parents and my grandparents. Seriously. Every night they would have a piece of pie and go to bed. It could be me and Bono running around Africa helping everybody. But I think that’s so telling because of your map of the world– this happened not by the work that you did– but your family’s faith helped you get to where you are.
Chris Tucker: I believe that wholeheartedly. So many things, I just had nothing to do with it. I was just a kid, who had a dream, who had faith and was just doing it. Doors opening; opportunities was there. It could have been any other comedian who got Fridays. But it was in the timing. I believe in timing. And me just going and not being afraid at the right time. It was just the right time.
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4. Chris Tucker Leaves A Lot on the Table
He’s turned down more projects than most people take. It’s been said that he’s passed on as much as a hundred million dollars worth of projects on the table over the years:
Ron Bennington: I know Brett Ratner has said that you’ve turned down – he says 100 million dollars worth of work that you would just not sign on for, because there’s always films that come up where people go, Chris would be perfect for this. But if you don’t think it’s a perfect script, you don’t jump at it.
Chris Tucker: Yeah, it’s probably about that much, but I’ve got 100 million dollars of great experiences. (Laughs) That, you know, money can’t buy…. I don’t know. Probably not, but probably so! Probably more! God damn what did I do!!!! (Laughs) What the hell you doing bringing that up????
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5. It’s Not All About Him
Whether it’s helping people in need in Africa or closer to home, Tucker has a strong conscience. He says “I realized at an early age that it wasn’t about me. It wasn’t about me being the biggest whatever. There’s people in the world that’s less fortunate than me, and if I could do something or learn from it and see how hard it takes for them to survive in some countries, in some parts of the world.” But sometimes he gives back a little too much:
“I started a riot in Ghana. Somebody gave me a drum and we was in the market place with Clinton. And somebody gave me a drum and I said, man I don’t have nothing to give him. So I pulled out a couple of hundred dollars and gave him a hundred dollars and the whole country went crazy. Clinton was like– Chris what the hell is wrong with you man? You messed up the economy! You can’t do that! That’s too much damn money! Ask for change next time, Tucker!” I said, “I’m sorry man, I had to give him something.”
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You can hear the interview in its entirety exclusively on SiriusXM and go see Chris Tucker in the new film, Silver Linings Playbook out for Thanksgiving.
You can hear this interview in its entirety exclusively on SiriusXM satellite radio. Not yet a subscriber? Click here for a free trial subscription.
You can learn more about Ron Bennington’s two interview shows, Unmasked and Ron Bennington Interviews at RonBenningtonInterviews.com.