Chris Tucker Was A Hit Movie Star in the ’90s and Early 2000sChris Tucker began his career as a stand-up comic as a teen in his native Atlanta. At 19, he moved to Los Angeles, and by 1992 he was a regular on Russell Simmons’ Def Comedy Jam. His success on the series made him a contemporary of legends like Bernie Mac and Cedric The Entertainer. Tucker’s stand-up career earned him small spots in House Party 3 and various music videos for Dr. Dre, 2Pac, and Heavy D & The Boys. But in 1995, he took his career to the next level when he starred in Ice Cube’s comedy Friday. His role as Smokey earned him three MTV Movie Awards nominations: Best Comedic Performance, Best Breakthrough Performance, and Best On-Screen Duo. He continued his climb to A-list status in 1997 with roles in The Fifth Element and Quentin Tarantino’s Jackie Brown. In 1998, he co-starred with Jackie Chan in Rush Hour. The unexpected success of the buddy cop comedy, which earned over $240 million at the box office, was a boon for Tucker. He commanded $20 and $25 million paydays for Rush Hour 2 and 3, respectively, making him the highest-paid actor of 2006. Tucker was on top of the world, which is why what happened after that had some people scratching their heads.
Why Chris Tucker Suddenly Stopped Making MoviesIn 2001, the same year Rush Hour 2 was released, Tucker appeared in Michael Jackson’s music video for “You Rock My World.” After that, he was barely seen until the 2007 release of Rush Hour 3. The film was six years in the making and expectations were high—perhaps that’s why a perfectly decent project was met with tepid reviews. Tucker has only appeared in two movies since then: Silver Linings Playbook (2012) and Billy Lynn’s Halftime Walk (2012). Surely one critical flop wasn’t the sole reason he dropped off the scene. So what’s the reason he’s kept such a low profile for the past 14 years? In 2017, Tucker explained to AZ Central that he was busy with a return to his roots.
I started as a stand-up and then the movie career took off so fast, I kind of put it on the back burner. But it’s on the front burner again. It’s a priority. I never stopped doing it; I just didn’t focus on it so much. But it is something you have to work at. I have way more life experiences than I did when I was a teenager. I have a lot more material. I think I’m a whole other person than when I was a kid doing ‘Def Comedy Jam.’… I love making movies, but I have been working doing my stand-up. I’m working one way or the other.Tucker was also highly selective about his roles. A detailed list from Vulture reveals that he turned down parts in Any Given Sunday, Lethal Weapon 4, and Django Unchained. According to a 2015 report in the Washington Post, Rush Hour director Brett Ratner once estimated that Tucker had turned down nearly $100 million worth of projects. “It’s probably about that much,” the comedian confirmed on an episode of the Interrobang comedy podcast. “But I’ve got $100 million of great experiences.”
Chris Tucker Found ChristianityAnother explanation for Tucker’s disappearance is a renewed commitment to his religious faith. He was raised in a Pentecostal Christian home, and according to Complex, he became born-again in the mid-’90s. He prefers to keep his language clean, which limits his choices for roles. Perhaps that’s why he leans on stand-up, where he can control the material. Speaking with The Georgia Straight in 2014, Tucker reflected on how his faith affected his comedy.
Being a Christian helps me in comedy. Normally, most comics talk about stuff that’s easy—maybe cussing or saying something raunchy. I have to dig deeper to find something that’s still funny and not raunchy. It’s harder. I like the challenge… I go to comedy clubs and it’s like, ‘All right, how raunchy can you get?’ And it’s really not that funny to me. What’s funny to me is being creative and talking about stuff that I wouldn’t have thought about.