11 Things You Might Not Know About Jackie Chan

Kiyoshi Ota, Getty Images
Kiyoshi Ota, Getty Images

Long before computer effects helped keep leading actors safe during stunts, Hong Kong superstar Jackie Chan achieved international acclaim by putting his body and life at risk—often for multiple takes. Films like The Legend of the Drunken Master and Police Story showcased Chan’s willingness to endure traumatic injury for his comedic ballets of violence. Here are a few things you might not have known about the man who seems to have the cinema DNA of both Bruce Lee and Charlie Chaplin.

1. HIS MOTHER WAS AN OPIUM SMUGGLER.

Born Chan Kong-sang in 1954, Chan’s early life has been the subject of much discussion. His parents left him behind in Hong Kong when Chan was just seven years old: They fled a Communist regime and settled in Australia, working for the American Embassy. Chan lived at a boarding school that emphasized performance arts. Only in more recent years did Chan discover more about his parents. His father, Fang Daolang, was involved in illicit criminal activities and may have been a Nationalist spy; his mother had once been arrested for smuggling opium and had connections to the Shanghai underworld. Chan reunited with his father in 2003. His mother passed away in 2001.

2. HIS SCHOOL EDUCATION WAS GRUELING.

Jackie Chan poses for a publicity photo
Central Press/Getty Images

Enrolled at boarding school from ages seven to 17, Chan was subjected to some of the most physically and emotionally grueling training imaginable. The Chinese Opera Research Institute in Hong Kong put its students through arduous training to prepare them for a career in theater, including singing, dancing, and martial arts. Some days, Chan said, lessons would last 19 hours. By the time Chan graduated, however, ending up in Peking opera was unlikely. Instead, Chan turned his skills to martial arts films.

3. HE WENT FULL-FRONTAL FOR AN ADULT MOVIE.

Virtually all of Chan’s films treat violence with a comedic bent, and few have any excessive gore or content that would make them unsuitable for general audiences. But Chan does have one entry on his resume that probably wouldn’t qualify for family movie night. In 1975, Chan appeared in All in the Family, a Hong Kong softcore feature that starred a prominent adult film actress and featured Chan naked, albeit not engaged in any sexual activity. “I had to do anything I could to make a living 31 years ago,” he said in 2006 of his reasons for making the film, “but I don't think it's a big deal. Even Marlon Brando used to be exposed in his movies. The porn movie at that time was more conservative than the current films.”

4. HE TOOK BRUCE LEE BOWLING.

Statues of Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee stand in a public area
Andrew Cowie, AFP/Getty Images

Early in Chan’s career, he made brief appearances in two Bruce Lee films: 1972’s The Chinese Connection and 1973’s Enter the Dragon. Months later, Chan was headed to a bowling alley when Lee spotted him in the street and asked to join him. Chan agreed, and the two played while Chan kept busy rebuffing autograph-seekers eager to get to Lee. Just about 10 days later, Lee would be dead of cerebral edema at age 32. "I was totally shocked," Chan said.

5. HE SOMETIMES USES STUNTMEN—FOR WALKING SCENES.

While Chan is willing and able to perform his own stunts, that doesn’t mean he’s put stuntmen completely out of business. In 2013, Chan told Yahoo! that stunt performers are sometimes used as stand-ins for his movies when scenes require his character to walk around, drive, or perform other menial tasks so Chan can rest. The actor also said he has stuntmen perform stunt tests so he has an idea of what to expect when he steps in front of the camera.

6. HE THOUGHT RUSH HOUR WAS TERRIBLE.

Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker pose for photos during a public appearance
Scott Gries, Getty Images

Though Chan experienced some success as a cult movie figure thanks to re-releases of his earlier movies in the 1990s, his big American break came as a result of 1998’s Rush Hour, which paired him with Chris Tucker. With limited opportunity to do his own stunts and the film relying on the culture clash between his character and Tucker’s, Chan didn’t really understand the appeal. “That’s a terrible movie,” he remembered telling his manager. “They don’t allow me to do my own style [of action]. The English, I’m not good. Chris Tucker’s English, I don’t understand. Terrible movie!”

7. HE HAD AN ARMED STANDOFF WITH THE TRIAD GANG.

Chan’s celebrity in Hong Kong has led to considerable wealth: His stature and fortune eventually led to him crossing paths with the notorious Triad gang in China. According to Time, Chan has said he has frequently been harassed by the criminal organization over the years, including one instance where members shot at him as he deboarded a plane. Tired of the conflict, Chan claimed he once confronted them with a gun and had grenades ready for a more explosive standoff. Because firearms carry heavy criminal penalties in Hong Kong, authorities contacted Chan after he told the story. After Chan told them the incident took place out of the region, they declined to pursue the matter further.

8. HE LIKES ASKING CELEBRITIES TO POSE WITH HIS TWO STUFFED PANDAS.

Jackie Chan poses with two stuffed pandas
Frazer Harrison, Getty Images

In 2010, Chan visited a Build-a-Bear Workshop in London and constructed two stuffed panda bears that he named Chan La and Chan Zy. The actor is fond of traveling with them and asking fellow performers to pose with them for photos. His pandas have met Ang Lee, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jet Li, and Bill Clinton. The two also escorted him to the Academy Awards in 2017.

9. HE OWNED A SEGWAY DEALERSHIP.

Excited by the clean-transportation potential of the Segway scooter, Chan opened a dealership in 2006 and secured distribution rights to peddle the product throughout Asia. The actor wanted to promote a low-emission vehicle, though it was a pricey option: The retail cost of the Segway at the time in the U.S. was $5000. In China, it went for $10,000.

10. HE HAS A PERMANENT HOLE IN HIS HEAD.

Jackie Chan looks into the lens of a camera
J.P. Moczulski, AFP/Getty Images

Considering Chan’s prolific stunt career, it’s slightly amazing he’s still with us. But he had a very close brush with death shooting 1986's Armour of God. Describing the action as “simple,” Chan swung from a tree and hit his head on a rock, necessitating a surgically-inserted metal plate and a permanent, quarter-sized indentation in his skull. Chan will sometimes invite people, like co-stars or talk show hosts, to stick their fingers in it.

11. HE HOLDS THE GUINNESS WORLD RECORD FOR MOST CREDITS ON A MOVIE.

Chan often directs, produces, and stars in his Hong Kong films, but some projects have inspired him to take on additional responsibilities. For 2012’s Chinese Zodiac, Chan earned a Guinness World Record for most credits (15) in a single film. In addition to directing, producing, and acting, he is also credited as fight choreographer, composer, art director, unit production manager, gaffer, theme tune vocalist, writer, cinematographer, stuntman, prop work, and catering coordinator.

Darth Vader’s Helmet and More Iconic Movie Props Are Hitting the Auction Block

Al Lampert, David Prowse, and Carrie Fisher in Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977).
Al Lampert, David Prowse, and Carrie Fisher in Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977).
Lucasfilm

Have you ever fantasized about owning Darth Vader’s helmet from The Empire Strikes Back, Dorothy's iconic dress from The Wizard of Oz, or James Bond's stolen Moon Buggy from Diamonds Are Forever? Do you have a lot of money to spend? Then now is your chance to own a piece of Hollywood history. The Hollywood Reporter reports that on September 25 and 26, in Calabasas, California, Profiles in History will auction off more than 950 lots of entertainment memorabilia as part of The Icons and Legends of Hollywood sale.

The collection, which is valued at more than $10 million, includes legendary props and costumes from both classic and modern movies and TV shows including Citizen Kane, Ed Wood, Titanic, Dynasty, and Beverly Hills, 90210.

One of the most famous items for sale is Dorothy's screen-worn gingham pinafore dress from The Wizard of Oz. The dress—the only one that exists—was worn by Bobbie Koshay, Judy Garland's body double, and appears in the beginning of the movie (before Dorothy steps into the Technicolor Land of Oz). Profiles in History founder Joseph Maddalena estimates that the dress will sell for around $500,000.

Another big-ticket item on the auction block is the Sean Connery-driven Moon Buggy from the James Bond movie Diamonds Are Forever; the escape vehicle is also expected to sell for a cool $500,000. But its Star Wars obsessives who might be the most excited: The helmet Darth Vader actor David Prowse wore in The Empire Strikes Back, which Maddalena called “the holy grail of science fiction," is for up for grabs, too. "I said to one client, 'If you have that, you don’t have to have anything else,'" Maddalena told The Hollywood Reporter. "That’s your collection. There’s no up from there."

Titanic fans can put a bid on the outfits Jack and Rose were wearing when they first saw one another, each of which is expected to fetch north of $100,000. But wait, there are hundreds of more things for sale [PDF]: Tom Skerritt's Alien spacesuit; Charles Foster Kane’s coat from Citizen Kane; Luke Perry's "Dylan McKay" high school student ID from Beverly Hills, 90210; Blade’s 1968 Dodge Charger; Daniel Radcliffe's Harry Potter glasses from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone; a promotional Marilyn Monroe Some Like It Hot thermometer; a Betty Draper cocktail shaker from Mad Men; and a Jesse Pinkman samurai T-shirt from Breaking Bad are just a few of the other items that can be yours. You can view the entire catalog here.

The 30 Highest-Grossing Actors in Hollywood

Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., and Samuel L. Jackson in The Avengers (2012).
Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., and Samuel L. Jackson in The Avengers (2012).
Marvel Studios

Earlier this summer, Avengers: Endgame surpassed James Cameron's Avatar to become the highest-grossing movie of all-time worldwide. Which begs the question: Who are the highest-grossing actors? Of the A-listers with the highest box office grosses in America, 18 of them have been—and/or continue to be—part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But plenty of non-superhero stalwarts also made the cut.

The Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings franchises are also well-represented on this list, comprising a total of six spots ... with a little bit of crossover (Andy Serkis is in both franchises). But Tom Cruise, Johnny Depp, and Woody Harrelson have all managed to do well outside comic book franchises. Unfortunately, the list is extremely male-dominated, with only three women landing in the top 30, but it's always changing. As of this moment, here are Hollywood's top-grossing actors.

1. Samuel L. Jackson

Box office total: $7,106,460,118 (totals are domestic grosses, not worldwide)

Biggest movie: The Avengers (2012)

Getting in on the ground floor of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has paid off for Samuel L. Jackson, but that’s not the only major franchise that’s contributed to his top spot on this list: Star Wars, The Incredibles, and Jurassic Park helped secure his position, too. Not only is he the most bankable movie star ($13.3 billion worldwide), he’s also “the most influential actor of all time,” according to an algorithm-based study published in the journal Applied Network Science. Plus, Jackson has starred in more movies than anyone on the list—120 and counting.

2. Robert Downey Jr.

Box office total: $5,818,750,378

Biggest movie: The Avengers: Endgame (2019)

Downey Jr. has had one of the biggest comebacks in Hollywood history, going from indie actor to playing Iron Man in several Marvel films. He's also one of the highest paid actors on this list; Downey raked in $75 million for Avengers: Endgame alone.

3. Scarlett Johansson

Scarlett Johansson and Danai Gurira in Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
Marvel Studios

Box office total: $5,244,119,075

Biggest movie: Avengers: Endgame (2019)

Four-time Golden Globe nominee Scarlett Johansson is one of only two women to make it into one of the top 10 spots of this list. Like Jackson and Downey, her involvement in the MCU has helped her films gross billions of dollars worldwide. Next year she’ll headline a Black Widow film.

4. Harrison Ford

Box office total: $5,121,747,600

Biggest movie: Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)

Whereas the MCU folks are new to billion-dollar franchises, Harrison Ford has been acting in record-breaking films for decades, and in a variety of franchises: Blade Runner, Star Wars, and Indiana Jones. However, The Force Awakens was the first time he starred in a film that grossed more than $1 billion worldwide.

5. Tom Hanks

Box office total: $5,038,685,542

Biggest movie: Toy Story 4 (2019)

Tom Hanks hasn’t starred in Star Wars or a superhero movie (unless you count Mr. Rogers as a superhero), yet he’s made Disney a lot of money by lending his voice to four Toy Story films, including this year’s Toy Story 4, which grossed $1 billion worldwide.

6. Bradley Cooper

Box office total: $4,803,758,514

Biggest movie: Avengers: Endgame (2019)

It seems unlikely for Cooper to appear in the top 10, but voicing The Guardians of the Galaxy's Rocket Raccoon for the MCU; directing/acting/producing/composing A Star Is Born; and starring in the $300 million-grossing American Sniper increased the seven-time Oscar nominee's bankability.

7. Morgan Freeman

Box office total: $4,624,290,253

Biggest movie: The Dark Knight (2008)

The Dark Knight grossed a whooping $535 million domestically, making it the most profitable of the Christian Bale Batman series. Plus, Freeman has voiced God, which in itself is worthy.

8. Don Cheadle

Don Cheadle during the panel discussion at the FYC Red Carpet Event For Showtimes' "Black Monday" at Saban Media Center on May 14, 2019 in North Hollywood, California
Leon Bennett/Getty Images

Box office total: $4,422,654,260

Biggest movie: Avengers: Endgame (2019)

Don Cheadle mostly benefits from being a part of the MCU, but he also starred in the lucrative Ocean’s franchise.

9. Andy Serkis

Box office total: $4,357,712,246

Biggest movie: Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)

Andy Serkis has been in some of the most successful movies of all time, including Black Panther, The Force Awakens, the rebooted Planet of the Apes films, and The Lord of Rings trilogy. Sometimes he appears in corporeal form, other times it’s only his voice and/or body movements that make it on to the screen. With appearances in four major franchises—and a hilarious role in 13 Going on 30—Serkis almost has Jackson beat.

10. Zoe Saldana

Box office total: $4,193,566,592

Biggest movie: Avengers: Endgame (2019)

Zoe Saldana benefits from being part of the Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Star Trek franchises, as well as Avatar, which used to be the highest-grossing film until Endgame unseated it.

11. Chris Pratt

Box office total: $4,145,406,026

Biggest movie: Avengers: Endgame (2019)

In 2014, Andy Dwyer/Star Lord broke out in a big way. Since starring in Guardians of the Galaxy, Chris Pratt has made his bread and butter through the MCU, two Jurassic Worlds, and lending his voice to two LEGO movies.

12. Anthony Daniels

Box office total: $4,040,875,544

Biggest movie: Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)

Anthony Daniels owes his entire film career to playing C-3PO in every Star Wars movie, including 2017’s The Last Jedi and the upcoming The Rise of Skywalker. Daniels has voiced C-3PO in The LEGO Movie and Ralph Breaks the Internet, too.

13. Chris Evans

Box office total: $4,019,809,829

Biggest movie: Avengers: Endgame (2019)

Chris Evans, the second Chris on this list, is most famous for his role as Captain America—though playing the Human Torch in two Fantastic Four movies helped him secure a top spot on this list.

14. Chris Hemsworth


Disney/Marvel Studios

Box office total: $4,018,762,362

Biggest movie: Avengers: Endgame (2019)

Like Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth’s lucrative career has been been largely situated in the MCU.

15. Tom Cruise

Box office total: $3,997,627,920

Biggest movie: War of the Worlds (2005)

Tom Cruise has been a Hollywood A-lister since before some of the younger members of the MCU were even born. His movies range from the Mission: Impossible franchise to standalone hits like Minority Report, Jerry Maguire, The Firm, Rain Man, Top Gun, and War of the Worlds. It grossed $234,280,354—only $14 million more than 2018’s Mission: Impossible - Fallout. Next year, Cruise will try to move up the list with a Top Gun sequel.

16. Idris Elba

Box office total: $3,848,550,304

Biggest movie: Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

In addition to Idris Elba’s role in the MCU, he has increased his box office tally with hits like Hobbs and Shaw, and Star Trek Beyond as well as voice work in The Jungle Book, Finding Dory, and Zootopia.

17. Johnny Depp

Box office total: $3,846,802,966

Biggest movie: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (2006)

Johnny Depp starred in all five Pirates of the Caribbean movies—including the $1 billion-worldwide grosser Dead Man’s Chest. Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland and 2018’s Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald have kept his star status afloat.

18. Eddie Murphy

Eddie Murphy speaks onstage during the LA Tastemaker event for Comedians in Cars at The Paley Center for Media on July 17, 2019 in Beverly Hills City
Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for Netflix

Box office total: $3,811,107,808

Biggest movie: Shrek 2 (2004)

Though Eddie Murphy hasn’t had a blockbuster his since voicing Donkey in 2010’s Shrek Forever After, he maintains a big box office draw from older fare like Beverly Hills Cop (1984); the Dr. Doolittle and The Nutty Professor movies; Dreamgirls (2006); and three more Shrek films. Next year’s Coming to America sequel should boost his box office totals, too.

19. Stanley Tucci

Box office total: $3,778,184,471

Biggest movie: Beauty and the Beast (2017)

Yes, Stanley Tucci had a tiny part in the MCU—he portrayed Abraham Erskine in Captain America: The First Avenger—but his most impressive box office grosses come from starring in a couple of Transformers movies, the live-action Beauty and the Beast, and The Hunger Games series, which has grossed more than $2 billion worldwide.

20. Mark Ruffalo

Box office total: $3,764,716,234

Biggest movie: Avengers: Endgame (2019)

Mark Ruffalo has earned three (and counting) Oscar nominations for smaller roles in The Kids Are All Right (2010), Foxcatcher (2014), and Spotlight (2015). But playing the Hulk has helped him smash the box office.

21. Ian McKellen

Box office total: $3,654,414,482

Biggest movie: Beauty and the Beast (2017)

Ian McKellen has been a franchise staple for nearly 20 years, beginning with 2000’s X-Men. A combination of X-Men films and The Lord of the Rings trilogy has made him one of Hollywood’s most successful actors. If that weren’t enough, two The Hobbit films, The Da Vinci Code, and 2017's Beauty and the Beast propelled him to big box office totals.

22. Benedict Cumberbatch

Benedict Cumberbatch of Marvel Studios' 'Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness' at the San Diego Comic-Con International 2019 Marvel Studios Panel in Hall H on July 20, 2019 in San Diego, California
Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney

Box office total: $3,585,440,897

Biggest movie: Avengers: Endgame (2019)

Star Trek Into Darkness, The Hobbit, voicing the titular character in 2018’s The Grinch, and playing Doctor Strange in the MCU have enabled Benedict Cumberbatch to make a dent in the worldwide box office.

23. Dwayne Johnson

Box office total: $3,564,845,910

Biggest movie: Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017)

The Rock’s roles in the Fast and the Furious series—including 2019’s spinoff, Hobbs and Shaw—broke some box office records, but his parts in Jumanji (it almost grossed $1 billion worldwide) and voicing Maui in Moana have also contributed a lot of money to his worldwide box office total. In December, he’ll star in a Jumanji sequel—Jumanji: The Next Level.

24. Will Smith

Box office total: $3,559,520,435

Biggest movie: Aladdin (2019)

With early successes like Independence Day, the Bad Boys franchise (another is on the way), and three Men in Black movies, Will Smith became one of the biggest stars in the world. Though he’s been a movie star for more than 25 years, this year’s live-action Aladdin is his biggest hit to date.

25. Jeremy Renner

Box office total: $3,547,806,066

Biggest movie: Avengers: Endgame (2019)

Jeremy Renner has the MCU, Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, and American Hustle to thank for his place on this list. The Hurt Locker, which is one of his most acclaimed movies, is also one of his lowest-grossing films.

26. Josh Brolin

Box office total: $3,528,495,148

Biggest movie: Avengers: Endgame (2019)

In the past couple of years, veteran actor Josh Brolin has experienced a late-career resurgence. Not only did he play Thanos in three Avengers films, but he also appeared in Deadpool 2. In 2018 alone, Deadpool 2 and Avengers: Infinity War grossed almost $3 billion total worldwide. Not a bad year.

27. Cate Blanchett

Actress Cate Blanchett attends The Austin Film Society and Australian International Screen Forum "Where'd You Go, Bernadette" private dinner at Lincoln Ristorante on August 11, 2019 in New York City
Lars Niki/Getty Images for Austin Film Society

Box office total: $3,497,073,561

Biggest movie: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)

In the early aughts, Oscar winner Cate Blanchett proved that she could be a valuable franchise asset with her role in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. In 2017, she entered the MCU with Thor: Raganok. She made smart money choices with The Hobbit movies, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Cinderella, and Ocean’s 8.

28. Vin Diesel

Box office total: $3,493,342,043

Biggest movie: Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

Vin Diesel voiced Guardians of the Galaxy's Groot in the MCU, though the animated character barely had any dialogue except to say “I am Groot.” But his starring role in seven Fast and the Furious movies is what made his stardom balloon. More Fast and the Furious films are planned, and Diesel has a part in the upcoming Avatar sequels, too.

29. Woody Harrelson

Box office total: $3,479,339,743

Biggest movie: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013)

In 2012, Woody Harrelson starred in the first of four Hunger Games films. Their high grosses, especially 2013’s Catching Fire, solidified his place as a fantastic character actor who could also carry a major franchise. In 2018, he continued his blockbuster streak and starred in Star Wars spinoff Solo: A Star Wars Story, and Venom.

30. Anthony Mackie

Box office total: $3,451,128,814

Biggest movie: Avengers: Endgame (2019)

Anthony Mackie has the MCU to thank for his place on the 30th spot on this list.

Box office totals courtesy of Box Office Mojo.

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