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Kiyoshi Ota, Getty Images
Kiyoshi Ota, Getty Images

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.

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Shopping Malls Might be Dying, But Miami Is Planning to Build the Largest One in North America
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Shopping malls and the "American Dream" are two things that are often said to be dead or dying, but one developer sees it a little differently.

Part shopping outlet and part theme park, American Dream Miami is slated to become the largest mall in North America when it opens in Miami-Dade County, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports. Indeed, "mall" might not be the best word for this mega-complex. In addition to retail outlets, plans are in the works for an aquarium, water park, ski slope, live performing arts center, Ferris wheel, submarine ride, skating rink, and 2000 hotel rooms.

The project is being developed by Triple Five Group, which operates the Mall of America in Minnesota and the West Edmonton Mall in Canada—currently the two current largest shopping and entertainment centers on the continent. It also owns the American Dream Meadowlands in New Jersey.

This announcement comes at a time when shopping malls are being shuttered across the country. More than 6400 stores closed last year, and another 3600 are expected to go out of business this year, according to Business Insider.

American Dream Miami will cost $4 billion and cover 6.2 million square feet. Developers hope it will attract tourists as well as local thrill seekers who want a closer entertainment option than Disney World and Universal Studios in Orlando. Developer Eskandar Ghermezian was reportedly inspired by a comment made by his daughter, who complained there was nothing to do in the area when it rained.

Critics of the project, however, called it "American Nightmare," arguing it would harm the environment and cause traffic congestion. The developer still needs to obtain several permits before construction can begin.

[h/t Sun-Sentinel]

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20 Character Actors Who Make Everything They’re in Better
Netflix
Netflix

If the main character in your movie is a straitlaced do-gooder, or really, blandly relatable in any way, you’re going to need some eccentric figures to bring some spice to the party. More than mere sidekicks, these characters either make the world they inhabit feel dangerous and chaotic or bring order to insanity by sheer force of personality. They’re characters that make your ears perk just as the movie starts to lose you.

Character actors are tasked with making movies more interesting, but only the best of them succeed. So here are 20 ultra-talented stars who never fail to make good films great, great films classic, and terrible films almost watchable.

1. PETER STORMARE

Peter Stormare in 'American Gods'
Jan Thijs, Starz Entertainment/FremantleMedia North America

Thank Fargo for this one. Peter Stormare’s magic stems from his range, which runs from Genuinely Kind to Terrifyingly Aggressive. You might expect him to play a growling bad guy every role, but his comic timing and humane sensitivity allow him to play everything from an unlicensed eye doctor in Minority Report to multiple voices on children’s shows to an incompetent nihilist kidnapper in The Big Lebowski.

2. OCTAVIA SPENCER

Octavia Spencer in 'Hidden Figures' (2016)
Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

Octavia Spencer is a world-class actor and producer with the hardware to prove it (including an Oscar, a BAFTA, and a Golden Globe). She’s a dynamite talent who offers a Herculean amount of support to everyone she shares scenes with. It’s possible that her trademark is a wry, knowing sense of humor, but she’s not that easily pinned down or pigeonholed, mightily subverting expectations in genre work like Snowpiercer and gut-wrenching dramas like Fruitvale Station.

3. SCOOT MCNAIRY

Scoot McNairy in 'Halt and Catch Fire'
Eric Ogden, AMC

Possessing leading man looks and chops with a character actor’s transformative ability, Scoot McNairy is a deft craftsman who brings meek powder keg Gordon Clark to life on Halt and Catch Fire as well as embodying slimy slave trader Brown in 12 Years a Slave and amateurish holdup man Frankie in the crime drama Killing Them Softly.

4. TILDA SWINTON

Tilda Swinton in 'Only Lovers Left Alive' (2013)
Sandro Kopp, Sony Pictures Classics

Some character actors are in the hall of fame, some have won awards, but Tilda Swinton is on (and possibly from) another planet. She can more than hold her own as a leading performer, delivering searing portrayals in We Need to Talk About Kevin and deathly mystery in The Only Lovers Left Alive. But it’s her bizarre character work that most endures, like having your brain smacked with a rainbow baseball bat. From her toothy despot in Snowpiercer to her thousand-year-old dowager in The Grand Budapest Hotel to her wintry witch in The Chronicles of Narnia to a dozen other deeply strange performances, Swinton is playing a totally different game than everyone else. If Hollywood ever makes a David Bowie biopic, they know who to hire.

5. OLIVER PLATT

Oliver Platt in FX's 'Fargo'
Chris Large, FX Networks

An actor’s actor, Oliver Platt never seems content to play the same role twice, yet he has the peerless ability to make it feel as if we’ve known a character our whole lives. That bone-deep familiarity is a quality that comes from another level of acting talent. Even if he’s only in one scene, Platt never phones it in. He’s never less than fantastic. Whether droll and off-the-cuff or stridently severe, you get the feeling that Platt is in it for the pure, unbridled love of acting.

6. ANN DOWD

Ann Dowd plays Aunt Lydia in 'The Handmaid's Tale'
Hulu

This Emmy-winning, 30-year veteran is in five movies coming out this year alone. That’s on top of a busy slate of guest starring roles on TV shows where she almost always becomes the best thing about the episode. She just finished up a remarkable run as the dead-eyed, chain-smoking Patti in The Leftovers, but her reign of matronly terror as Aunt Lydia on The Handmaid’s Tale has only just begun.

7. GIANCARLO ESPOSITO

Giancarlo Esposito in 'Breaking Bad'
Michele K. Short, AMC/Sony Pictures Television

To offer some perspective on Giancarlo Esposito’s genius: he recently did a single episode of Westworld where he delivered a fiery monologue that shook a character to the core, and the creators of Westworld almost definitely hired him because they knew he’d deliver a fiery monologue that would shake an entire audience to its core. Best known as Gus Fring on Breaking Bad (and Better Call Saul), Esposito has appeared in more than 75 movies and a list of TV episodes no one has time to count (though it's worth a reminder that he played Big Bird's camp counselor on Sesame Street). Unfailingly charismatic, Esposito is a modern marvel who, over four decades of acting, has never failed to astound.

8. CARRIE COON

Carrie Coon stars in HBO's 'The Leftovers'
HBO

Carrie Coon’s acting talent is so outstanding that she often commanded entire sequences in The Leftovers without interacting with anyone else. Her character was marked by isolation, and you could wind up not remembering to blink while watching her complete even the most mundane of tasks with a seemingly infinite pool of sorrow. She brought that concentration of anxiety to Gone Girl, where she played the sister of Ben Affleck’s character, and, most recently, to the third season of the Fargo TV series.

9. MICHAEL STULHBARG

Michael Stuhlbarg in 'A Serious Man' (2009)
Focus Features

Last year, in addition to his starring role in the third season of Fargo, Michael Stulhbarg was in three Best Picture nominees—The Shape of Water, Call Me By Your Name, and The Post—where he played pivotal roles as a modest Soviet spy, a father with a barn-burning monologue of compassionate acceptance, and a cosmopolitan newspaper editor, respectively. Three in one year. That’s incredible, but easy to believe when it comes to a talent like Stuhlbarg, who combines a workmanlike consistency and a stage actor’s perfectionism to create everymen who, far from being boring, are each singularly memorable.

10. MARGO MARTINDALE

Margo Martindale in 'The Americans'
FX Networks

The one. The only. Margo Martindale is so transcendent that BoJack Horseman features a character called “Beloved Character Actress Margo Martindale” (which is voiced by Martindale). Perhaps the most famous character actor currently working, she brings a maternal energy to even her craziest characters, which probably makes them seem even crazier. She also excels in roles that exude a sense of cool confidence, which helps if you’re handling soviet spies on The Americans or leading a weed-dealing family on Justified.

11. WALTON GOGGINS

Walton Goggins in FX's 'Justified'
FX Networks

Speaking of Justified: Walton Goggins earned an Emmy nomination for his portrayal of gritty-yet-charming criminal Boyd Crowder on the show, but he deserves so many more awards (though it's worth noting that he did win an Oscar in 2002, when The Accountant—a short film he produced and starred in—was named Best Live-Action Short Film). He’s got a flare for playing wild-eyed thugs and weirdos blissfully lacking self-awareness, but the scummy majesty he offers isn’t solely used for black hats. Goggins popping up randomly in movies and TV shows is always a delight because he’s a hell of an actor who seems to have time traveled here from the Wild West.

12. CCH POUNDER

CCH Pounder in 'NCIS: New Orleans'
CBS

CCH Pounder’s niche is serious professionals in police stations and emergency rooms, but she’s also brought steely playfulness to the neighborhood witch Madame Dorothea in the Mortal Instruments franchise. She’s consistently fantastic, drawing on years of expertise, natural magnetism, and an amazing number of starring and guest-starring roles on TV.

13. STEPHEN ROOT

Stephen Root in 'Idiotsitter' (2014)
Comedy Central

Stephen Root has portrayed so many outlandish characters that it’s shocking when he turns up in a movie in khakis and a Polo shirt. There are no limits on his range, and you can take your pick from a metric ton of favorites: Office Space, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Dodgeball, Idiocracy, King of the Hill, NewsRadio, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and Get Out are just a few. In his TV career, he’s been in over 700 episodes and continues to elevate his game. This is legendary character actor status here.

14. ALLISON JANNEY

Allison Janney in 'I, Tonya' (2017)
Neon

West Wing fans have known about Allison Janney’s ability to command a room either with charm, severity, or by doing "The Jackal" since the late 1990s. But she solidified her place in the Character Actor Hall of Fame with her Oscar-winning turn as Tonya Harding’s abusive, bird enthusiast mother in I, Tonya. With a comic edge that echoes vaudeville (see: Hairspray) and a scary intensity when things get serious, Janney excels in any role you lay at her feet.

15. PAT HEALY

Pat Healy in 'The Innkeepers' (2011)
Magnolia Pictures

Often portraying the disturbing or the disturbed, Pat Healy is willing to push extremes of manic glee while staying grounded. He most notably shines through the grit in Cheap Thrills as the downtrodden mechanic Craig who performs increasingly violent and degrading stunts for a bigger pot of money. He also menaced Ann Dowd and Dreama Walker by phone in Compliance and was menaced by ghosts in The Innkeepers.

16. MICHELLE HURST

Michelle Hurst in 'Orange Is the New Black'
Netflix

If you’re a fan of Law & Order and its 1000 spinoffs, you’ve seen (and likely marveled at) Michelle Hurst a dozen times. She possesses a sharp ferocity, as proven by her portrayal of the acerbic Miss Claudette on the first season of Orange is the New Black. She was sidelined after a 2013 car accident, but she’s back this year in a supporting role in the romantic comedy Permission, so hopefully casting directors will take of this criminally underused powerhouse.

17. MICHAEL PEÑA

Michael Peña in 'CHIPS' (2017)
Peter Iovino, Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

If you only know Michael Peña as the fast-talking goof in Ant-Man, you’d be forgiven for not realizing the dangerous dramatic work he has done since Crash. He’s the rare talent who’s at the top of his game whether trying to make us laugh, cry, or wrestle with difficult truths. How else can you explain him stealing scenes in Marvel’s miniature superhero film a year after transforming wholesale into Cesar Chavez for a biopic of the civil rights activist?

18. KATHRYN HAHN

Kathryn Hahn in 'Happyish'
Showtime

Kathryn Hahn has been outshining her leading counterparts for years, but Bad Moms really gave her room to run. She absolutely has the skills to heighten the drama in movies like Revolutionary Road and This Is Where I Leave You, but the sweet spot of her talent is in finding humor by playing an exaggerated version of our funny best friend. Jill Soloway’s Afternoon Delight proved Hahn could shoulder a starring role, but it’s great that she has found her stride as the bar-hopping, sexually adventurous single mother ripping through stereotypes in a budding Bad Moms franchise and continues to command the screen in ensembles.

19. KEITH DAVID

Keith David and Parker Young in 'Enlisted'
Adam Taylor, Fox

This Juilliard graduate got his cinematic start with The Thing and Platoon, then went on to lend his unmistakable, Emmy-worthy voice and stature to a slew of harrowing dramas. But Keith David’s secret weapon is his comic perfection as an exasperated authority figure on display in There’s Something About Mary, Rick and Morty, the short-lived-but-brilliant Enlisted, and later seasons of Community. You can count on the Tony winner for acting perfection on screen or on stage.

20. BETH GRANT

Drew Barrymore and Beth Grant in 'Donnie Darko' (2001)
Newmarket Films

If you need an actor to play a religious zealot or snappy rule-enforcer, Beth Grant is your first and last phone call. She’s the consummate stick in the mud, crafting figures who scold and harangue the main character for having even the tiniest bit of fun. We often love to hate the characters she portrays in movies like Donnie Darko and No Country for Old Men (not to mention her regular role on The Mindy Project), but she always transforms flat antagonists into fully realized humans by carving out space for sympathy.

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