Back in the early 2000s, was anyone bigger — or funnier — than Chris Tucker? According to The Washington Post, the actor and comedian got his start as a stand-up on HBO’s Def Comedy Jam, much like the late Bernie Mac or Cedric the Entertainer. But neither of those stars were once the highest-paid actor in Hollywood!
After a star-making performance as Smokey in the film Friday, Tucker landed a part throwing punches and punchlines alongside the legendary Jackie Chan in Rush Hour.The action film proved their buddy-cop routine had legs, as it grossed $244 million globally on a $33 million budget. But it was Rush Hour 2 that cemented Tucker as a comedic force. Leaning heavier into comedy throughout — plus, that unforgettable Michael Jackson impression — the film was a smash. It grossed a jump-kicking $347 million globally, and arguably offers one of the most enjoyable blooper reels to date.
Tucker was suddenly a huge star, even appearing in one of Jackson’s music video. And his paycheck for Rush Hour 3 ($25 million) made him the highest-paid actor in Hollywood — but something was off. Not only was Rush Hour 3 a critical disappointment, but it took six years to make. And per IMDb, Tucker didn’t take on a single role between the second or third film. Or much afterwards, for that matter.
Did Tucker, who once sang “Don’t Stop ’til You Get Enough,” get enough of Hollywood? Here’s what really happened to him.
Chris Tucker had IRS issues and turned to religion
So, what happened to Chris Tucker? A seemingly lethal combination of tax issues and a focus on religion slowed the Rush Hour star down. According to TMZ, by 2014, Tucker had racked up $14 million in back-taxes. He eventually settled his debt (via CNN), and according to Complex, he made light of his burdens in his 2015 Netflix special, Chris Tucker: Live. He joked, “Take care of your business, man… ’cause that’s the last time I let Wesley Snipes help me out with my taxes!”
Meanwhile, Tucker is a born-again Christian. According to Complex, he turned to Christianity in the 1990s, but once he struck fame, shied away from more movie offers, like a rumored part in Lethal Weapon 4. Tucker told The Georgia Straight, “[I would] go to comedy clubs and it’s like, ‘All right, how raunchy can you get?’ And it’s really not that funny to me.”
According to an interview on Sirius XM (via The Interrobang), director Brett Ratner once estimated Tucker turned down nearly $100 million in projects. “It’s probably about that much,” Tucker said on-air. “But I’ve got $100 million of great experiences.” Those experiences included, interestingly enough, reportedly visiting Africa with Bill Clinton and Kevin Spacey on Jeffrey Epstein’s plane when Hollywood was knocking. That’s quite a cabin, huh?
Today, Tucker remains elusive, aside from his 2015 stand-up special and role as Bradley Cooper’s pal in Silver Linings Playbook. Seems like he’s not “rushing” back!
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