Back to the film. It seems to me that on a movie like this, where everyone knows everyone and it is a comedy, that there would be a lot of improvising going on. Was that the case? ^ When you say “improvise” that is such a misconception because people think improvise is just making up stuff and how can we just make up stuff that doesn’t have to do with the movie? A corny white guy writes the words and Chris can’t articulate them, so he puts them in his own words. But it’s the exact same meaning. It’s like ‘I’m going to go to the store’ becomes ‘I’m gonna go to the sto.’ Whatever it is, it’s the exact same meaning.
So the scene with Chris and Jackie singing the Beach Boys– that was written in the script? ^ Well, the script didn’t say ‘they sing the Beach Boys’ it said ‘Jackie sings the Beach Boys.’ I was the one who told Chris, ‘you know what? This is the first time people see you in the movie. Even though you hate the Beach Boys in the first movie, I want to start the second film out with you two singing the Beach Boys.’
As you well know, odd couple/buddy cop comedies are a dime a dozen. Double Take, 48 Hours, Lethal Weapon… the list goes on and on. What do you think made Rush Hour stand out from all the competition it has had in recent years, and thus resulted in its huge box-office take? ^ I think it’s because the movie is special because it has two unique guys who you’ve never seen before together. It’s not the typical white American hero with the Black guy, it’s two guys who themselves are fish out of water– an African-American and an Asian. That I think makes it special. These two guys, I think, really stand out. The same movie with two other guys, with Jet Li and Chris Rock for example, I don’t think it would work as well together.
Do you think that the chemistry Jackie and Chris have in real life got across on screen and thus made the story more entertaining for viewers to watch? ^ Chemistry is hard to portray on screen — they either have it or they don’t. I got lucky because Chris and Jackie have this amazing chemistry together. It’s undeniable, but you can’t pin point exactly what it is. I think it’s the fact they don’t understand a word they are saying to each other, so they have to rely on kind of a physical chemistry.
On to you– Do you ever plan to step in front of the camera, or at least do a Hitchcock and do cameos in your feature films? ^ I’m not interested in that. I could have put myself in all my movies, but that’s not for me. I did a cameo once in another film — Black and White — but that’s it.
Chris said that he was very hesitant to do Rush Hour 2 in part because he hadn’t been cast in much prior to Rush Hour but mainly because he hadn’t done another movie since it. Was that a concern for you as a relatively new director and the reason you chose to direct the romantic-comedy The Family Man in-between the two? ^ Yeah, it was an amazing experience getting to do The Family Man in-between the two “Rush Hours.” I was really lucky to be able to shoot that because now I am being offered films I would have never been offered before if I just did Rush Hour and then Rush Hour 2.
Do you feel that The Family Man‘s less than impressive box-office gross has hindered you in any way from directing films that aren’t action-comedies? ^ In my mind it did well. I mean the studios keep wanting to hire me, so I don’t think it was a disappointment. I mean, compared to Cast Away yeah, of course. But it didn’t open soft. I just think it was a busy time for movies. I mean, there was What Women Want, Cast Away… just so many choices. Worldwide it did well though, and the DVD is doing great.
So do you have any romantic comedies in the works now that Rush Hour 2 is done? ^ I’m being offered a bunch of different movies that I am considering. The only thing I am certain of right now though is that I don’t want to do just another action movie with no comedy– nothing that is just straight action.
What about the rumors that you are going to direct the next “007” film? ^ It’s more that I want them than they want me. I love Bond and the studio and Pierce Brosnan wants me to direct it — Pierce has even called me and said, ‘I want you to direct Bond–‘ but the Broccoli’s don’t want me. I’m too scary for the Broccoli’s (Laughs) Seriously though, I think it’s because I would be the only American director. Plus I am not 50 years-old and I have a mind of my own. I don’t really think it is going to happen. I beg them though. I call them everyday.
You mentioned that ‘you aren’t 50 years-old and have a mind of your own.’ What would you do differently to the Bond franchise? ^ First his suit is a little tight, so I would loosen it a bit. Then I would get rid of the BMW. Other than that, we’ll just have to wait and see if I get to do anything.
What about “Rush Hour 3?” Chris said that if Rush Hour 2 is successful you guys would go right into it. Any ideas for the third installment? ^ I know it is going to start in New York, but I don’t know where it is going to go. We’ll make it up as we go.
Do you think you are going to direct another film before “Rush Hour 3?” ^ I sure hope so.
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