Wilson & Jackie Chan | Bluntly Shanghai'd
an emily blunt interview
Owen Wilson and Jackie Chan, the ying and yang of screen partners,
sat down with me recently to chew the chitlin.
to be as charming and different in real life as their screen counterparts
Roy O'Bannon and Chon Wang in Shanghai Noon and Shanghai
is one of my favorite screenwriters. Besides Bottle Rocket
and Rushmore, I own one of those fancy schmancy special
edition versions of Wilson's co-penned masterpiece, The Royal
Tenenbaums. Yeah, I'm a sucker for the "special"
additions in the "special" editions
repackages the film, throws in a missing scene, perhaps a quickie
interview with a gaffer, and a mustard stained storyboard on a
napkin they discovered discarded in the lot's commissary. Then
they double the original dvd price and prey on addicts, err, people
like me to be frothing at the bit for the store to open so I can
gladly hand over the additional forty bucks the day the new improved
dvd is released
hey, some people collect Hummels. Today
we are here to talk about his role in Shanghai Knights.
there's Jackie! Jackie is just a kung fu legend! I remember him
flying around for as long as I can remember. His film credits
are as long as the Great Wall I think. Off screen the kinetic
powerhouse is a gregarious funny bubbling man - who always happens
to be razor sharp. I admit can't always really understand his
broken English, but what he lacks in the vernacular he certainly
makes up for in physical intensity.
they arrive I can't help but notice Owen looks as if the cat dragged
him in and scrunched him in the chair like a discarded hair ball.
I suggest an IV of pure caffeine for the man may be in order...but
his publicist just glares. Jackie on the other hand bounds about
like an Asian Tasmanian devil. He's bouncing off the walls. Three
days with his energy and I'd drop two sizes man! I popped a couple
caffeinated mints, slurped down the rest of the hotel's java selection
and hit record.
Hi Jackie and Owen. Jackie you're beaming! You're very excited
about Shanghai Knights - I know you've been, um, less than
positive about some of your past films.
Every time I start a movie the director is like I want to do this
I want to do that - but then the time becomes an issue! Cut the
date cut the budget. This one as soon as we started the producer
the director said, "Go!" I'd say, "I need two more
days." They 'd say, "Okay two more days!' I really go
nonstop 7 days a week
on the set we can tell the script is
any good- everybody works hard. Even though my English is not
so good I know the humor it's a universal humor. It's not like
Rush Hour, "Wassup nigger." Only American people
get it. [it's] For only a few and nobody knows what happen. "I
slap your back to South Africa, never catch a black man without
a radio." Asian theater [goers] don't know this humor
this kind of humor? If I smile? Everybody knows. Everybody
understands. I always wanted to make a movie - not just for the
American market - for the world market. After Rush one
went back and made an Asian film. Now I hope Jackie has made an
You're open about your dislike of Tuxedo- That's so rare-
You see it? Awful. This is way funnier. I did all the action sequences
in Tuxedo and they said six months later okay it's cut.
I look and I said, "This is not a good movie." I don't
lie. I tell the truth. While I was doing it I couldn't tell. When
I was doing publicity for Rush Hour 2 in Japan I said to
everybody, "ah it's no good." I always speak the truth.
Sometimes I don't like to do publicity. I said, "I'm not
going to do it." I don't like Tuxedo
Poor Owen here all quiet and sleepy - I have to tell you are a
comic genius! May I shake your hand?
Wow! Thank you.
So who's your influence?
Well, I know Wes Anderson, who I was lucky enough to become friends
with in college, I work great with him. He's someone I think is
really funny. Ben Stiller is really funny. My dad had a really
good sense of humor and both my grandfathers. Both sides of the
family - I'm Irish and we use humor to cope with stuff. My sense
of humor is - I don't know - I didn't think it was that different
from anybody else's but when we did Bottle Rocket it didn't
seem like that many people thought it was funny! That was more
my sense of humor. People thought it was a little odd or different
then normal. Movies I liked growing up were like Francis Ford
Coppolla movies and Scorsese movies. Not so much... I don't remember
loving a lot of the big comedies. Maybe Animal House
and Caddyshack and stuff. I guess those were more of the
big comedies. I liked Punch Drunk Love. That was that Adam
Sandler movie. I really liked.
Emily: How does that " different than normal" translate
with the two of you?
I don't know. I was just saying when we first began Shanghai
Noon, Jackie and I weren't friends. We didn't know each other.
And yet, and as soon as I started working with him I liked him.
I could see him even being in one of Wes' movies almost just as
himself. Because he's such a character. He has a real kind of
innocence and stuff. I always kind of enjoy playing scenes off
Do you understand Owen's sense of humor?
I think he understands Roy. [laughter] He has a situation and
he knows how Roy is going to react.
Roy's a funny character. He's selfish. When the fighting is going
on he's always hiding then when the fighting's finished he comes
out. I'm from Forbidden City I am honorable. Also when he speaks
speaks really slowly. He's humor is different than Chris Tucker!
Chris is like babababababababababaaaa [makes a machine gun sound]
right away your hahaha. But, his humor you can taste, you go home
and you think of it again.
There's going to be another Rush Hour. Do you okay with that?
Yes. I always like
just in my own country they even know
me Rush Hour 1-2-3 Shanghai 1-2-3. I always believe
when I am making a movie I have to make it the best I can. Then
you can continue your career. How many
In Asia there' almost
none actor like me- survive twenty-five years. On the top. .
How long have you been doing this?
Forty-seven years. I was a stunt coordinator than actor. I have
been doing this all my life. It's not easy even in Asia.
Now you even have a star on Hollywood Boulevard! Why do you think
you've had such a staying power?
Yes! I believe it's because I make a movie not for the money.
I really work for it. Do the best I can
He works like seven days a week.
I don't have too! The producer says, "Jackie you've only
had three hours sleep can you do it." I say, "Yes!"
I would die for the movie.
In the movie I can die for the movie I do anything for the movie-
whatever. But outside the movie you ask me, "Hey you want
to go and go cart?" I say," No! Too dangerous."
He'll do all this crazy stuff on film
like falling, getting
a hole in his head; all these crazy stunts! But if you ask him
to do anything in real life like go skiing he doesn't do anything.
Yes. I stop the car under the bridge before the bridge. Yeah.
I am afraid the bridge might fall down. I always go as fast as
I can through a tunnel. I am always afraid the water comes in.
But you'll die for a movie?
Yes. [laughter] I don't want to get hurt for nothing.
There's a story about the clock scene in Shanghai Knights?
He tried to scare me. We were hanging like 100 feet in the air.
He said that he was veryafraid and had never done anything like
that. And I knew for Jackie to be afraid, that would mean that
I should be screaming in terror. [laughter]
I said the wire was broken. [laughter]
Owen are you ready for a real dramatic role?
Well, something like Behind Enemy Lines was not so much-
- that was more of an action movie than a real drama huh? Then
yeah, I could see doing something like that.
Are you glad you did Behind Enemy Lines?
Yeah, I had a good time doing it. It was not as much fun for me
to do as a movie like this, just because I have more fun coming
up with funny stuff. This character, I have a good time playing
off of Jackie's character. Behind Enemy Lines is more being
by myself just running around. It's more hard to know if it was
Your stunts in this were wild Jackie. How the heck do you keep
I train in things I really like. Jogging one hour, punching, kicking,
but not like before. Before when younger in school I did it was
like 5,000 punch, 500 kicks. Now, no. I do the treadmill. I cannot
walk on the street. First, people notice me. Second, my ankles
hurt. I've broken both my ankles.
How often do you work out now?
Oh, jogging every single day. Punching and kicking depends. Right
now, my back's still pain, my ankle's pain. This ankle always
comes out cracked. I have to put it back all the time.
Oochie! How do you "put it back?"
They help me. I push, they pull. I'm just used to it.
Would you ever teach?
I try to open a school to teach people how to do martial arts
and do film martial arts, how to be a good stunt coordinator,
how to be a good action editor.
What did you learn from each other working together?
I guess the thing that I would say what I learned the most would
. it's not so much that I learned anything new. I'd gotten
to be friends with Jackie on the first one. I knew what a hard
worker he was. It was more kind of the way that Jackie works,
where he goes on the set, he kind of looks around and he sees
something and he incorporates that into the scene. That was a
really nice way for me to work too because I don't like to be
tied down to necessarily how the script is if the scene doesn't
work when you get on set. I like it free.
I learn from him, he really concentrated on the whole script.
For us, I don't care. I just go on, I do it because he will ask
two weeks ago I speak this kind of dialogue, but that actually
continue my personality. He always does that. And also, when he
does something, he thinks before he does it. I always hurt myself
by teaching people do this, bam, boom, ow. Oh, we cannot do that.
But he'll ask me, "Is that dangerous?" I find out okay,
how- - now I learn how to protect people, and more patient.
Owen do you know if you like acting or writing better?
It's more fun acting. Writing is more like school. Ya know having
a paper due! Its fun when you get on a role and it's a great feeling
when you're finished to have something that's so personal. But
sitting there and starting to write is a lot scarier and harder
than showing up on a movie set!
As a screenwriter do you react different as an actor than other
Yeah but maybe not necessarily in a good way because I'll read
it and not maybe not like it but still do it and think I'll just
change stuff. But you have to be kind of careful because you can
only improvise your way so far. Here I had got along great with
the writer and the producers
in the first one I had a lot
of talk in the character. I already liked the character. Yeah
they were real open to me coming up with stuff.
What annoys me
it's like others they have two lines - and
they have to think and think what's my character
I say this way? That. Really. I'm just like, " Oh, come on
it's just two lines!" And they can think two days for one
Emily: But you'd do the same with an action sequence!
Yeah. [laughter] But action
. yeah ...okay.
And you bring in your own stunt team right?
Oh always. The stunt team is very important. When I was in Prague
they said we don't have "stunt" man we have "brave"
men. Brave men? They don't know. That kind of action I have to
train them rhythm and timing. He's a stunt guy- he hit and at
same time protect you. The Yugoslavia cameraman he runs away when
I come at him
my own cameraman follows me chases - not afraid.
I use my own people to protect me and keep everybody safe. I am
the stunt coordinator.
So Jackie what's up with Highbinders?
I finish Highbinders already and probably released in September.
So what's next?
Then I do Around the World in 80 Days I start next month
in Bangkok first. Then day after tomorrow I'm going to Berlin
for film festival for my parents' documentary. Then I go three
weeks location for Around the World then back to Bangkok
to start the movie. We have a verbal on Shanghai Dawn.
Starsky and Hutch. We start in a month. I think it could
be good. It's with Ben Stiller. And Wes actually has story about
an oceanographer we hope to start towards the end of summer. September
The same group of people?
Yep. Same group of people...
How about a new script from that mind?
Yeah. I'm trying to make myself sit down and do a whole story
I've been writing a little - adding - in these films. But nothing
Well get crackin' boy! We need more. You two have fun with all
this publicity see ya soon!
& Jackie: Thanks. [laughter] Sure.
a fun time. It was like mental rest stops when Owen answered;
a respite after Jackie bulleted out his thoughts - in broken English
- at about 100 mph. The transcriber posted a note with the interview,
"Not responsible for odd expressions or erroneous word groupings."
I think he did just fine. You get the gist; they enjoy working
together, they are proud of the film Shanghai
Knights and they are both unique talents.
got The Starsky and Hutch thing and a new shindig with Wes Anderson
brewing. While Jackie's in like 5492735 upcoming projects here
and in Asia....we can all rest assured they'll be providing us
with even more shenanigans shortly! In the mean time? Go see Shanghai
Knights it's just plain old funny.