Fans were disappointed when Chris Tucker did not return to the Friday franchise after he became fans’ favorite character. On the heels of the movie’s 25th anniversary, behind the scenes secrets of the making of the popular film are being revealed, including how Eddie Murphy turned down a role in the movie.
But Tucker has also been on many people’s minds, specifically, why he’s been relatively absent from the film industry throughout the years. As it turns out, Tucker’s religion and his commitment to quality work is the reason.
Chris Tucker was once the highest-paid actor-comedian in Hollywood
After Tucker’s breakout role on Friday, he moved onto Hollywood blockbusters. He opted out of the Friday franchise in order to not become pigeonholed in certain roles and accepted a role opposite of Jackie Chan in Rush Hour, which won him a $3 million paycheck.
Tucker later revealed in a comedy sketch that he was paid minimally for Friday, with other actors revealing they only received around $5,000 for their participation in the film. Rush Hour was a massive hit, earning over $240 million at the box office.
According to a YouTube documentary on Comedy Hype’s channel, Tucker received a major pay increase for the film’s second installment, getting paid $20 million – making him the highest-paid actor-comedian at that time. Going into Rush Hour 3, he earned $25 million and an additional percentage from the box office revenue.
Chris Tucker’s religious beliefs contribute to his career decisions – as well as him being “picky”
Tucker has been relatively absent from the film industry, but Comedy Hype reveals that it’s not due to him not being vetted and sent scripts. Instead, he’s become extremely selective with what he lends his name and talent to as a result of his re-dedication to his religion.
In between Friday and the Rush Hour franchise, Tucker reportedly became a born-again Christian. In the documentary, comedy analyst Rex Garvin explains that Tucker turned down dozens of roles that he felt did not align with his religious beliefs.
Roles that he turned down due to content included Any Given Sunday, Black Knight, and Django Unchained. Tucker chalked it up to him being “really picky” and a desire to do more serious roles – but sources close to the star told otherwise.
“He had what you call a Christian comedy crash without letting it flow automatically,” said Garvin. “Once you step in that next level, no one can train you for that, no one can prepare you for that, you’re on your own and what happens when you cross that line into show business, you go into a whole other world that you cannot predict.”
Studio heads also spoke to Tucker’s hesitation to do certain films. The documentary points to the former president of New Line Cinema, Michael Deluca, speaking about Tucker’s selection process in a 2000 New York Times profile on Tucker.
“They all think Chris is crazy. He won’t jump at an open checkbook, and people out here get frustrated,” Deluca said at the time. “Chris is picky. They get impatient when they can’t get him in their lousy scripts. But Chris is not just another actor for hire. He wants to have a long career.”
Since 2000, Tucker has only starred in four films. He did return to the stage by hosting the 2013 BET Awards and also a 2015 Netflix comedy special, Chris Tucker: Live in 2015.
During the special, he talked about money issues, traveling to Africa, and church. His comedy was free from profanity, compared to his past specials, and considered to be a prude. Though he did not address his faith directly, he was candid about attending church. Tucker was also said to be planning a 2020 comedy tour before the coronavirus.
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