Hailed by some as the next Eddie Murphy, the actor and comedian known as Chris Tucker is an energetic celebrity who has recently been quiet in the world of film. His last major appearance was in 2013, when he hosted the BET Awards. What happened to the star of Friday and the Rush Hour series? Where is he today?
Born in Georgia during the 1970s, Tucker was the youngest of six children. He learned to use his humorous side at an early age, since he had to be funny in order to get attention from his siblings and parents. He would watch Eddie Murphy and Richard Pryor, and would try and copy their styles. It seemed to be working, as he had a reputation throughout high school as a “class clown”, and he was able to even make his teachers laugh. One of his teachers even suggested to him that he should show off his stand up skills at the school’s talent show. He got the whole school laughing, and by the end, the cheers where deafening and not a single student or staff member could be seen sitting down.
His classmates later voted him as “Most Humorous”, and Tucker decided that he was going to become a comedian upon graduation. He would go perform at a local comedy club. His shows always had a great response. More success arrived to him locally, and Tucker eventually decided to take his talents to Los Angeles, California, to pursue his career in comedy and acting.
In 1992, Tucker performed regularly at Def Comedy Jam. This raised his stock to the point where he landed a role in House Party 3, and his career started to take off. A few years later he starred alongside Ice Cube in Friday, where he played the character Smoky, a marijuana dealer who had the potential to make a lot of money, but used most of the weed himself. Tucker’s humorous persona helped make the film a surprise hit. Tucker then was featured in Dead Presidents, showing off his acting talent in a serious film.
In 1997, Tucker starred alongside Charlie Sheen in Money Talks, a movie about a criminal who makes a deal with a TV newsman for protection from the police and other criminals. The film was a massive hit, and he then starred alongside Bruce Willis in another film, The Fifth Element.
When he landed the starring gig in the movie Rush Hour, his popularity started to explode. The movie was about two cops teaming up to get back a kidnapped daughter. It was the biggest hit of any movie Tucker had acted in, and he reprised his role for the next two movies in the franchise.
Chris Tucker, for reasons unknown, put his acting career on hold between the Rush Hour films. His home was foreclosed in 2011, and he’s been quiet. Rumors started to circulate; some saying Tucker was dead. What happened to him?
“I do remember that, man,” Tucker said when asked about the rumor. “That was crazy because that’s when the internet was just starting… I was kind of happy because that’s when people stopped asking me for money.”
So he’s still alive, but what has he been up to? He’s currently trying to revive his comedy career, but what about his acting career?
“Well, you know, I was looking for good movies,” he said when asked about the offers he turned down. His last movie he was seen in was Silver Linings Playbook, where he played a mental health facility resident opposite Bradley Cooper.
“It was a fun part, a good part and a good director. Eventually, it became a good cast.”
Tucker says he has been focusing on the standup comedy side of career, and acting is on the back of his mind.
“I went back to the comedy clubs, because I wanted to go back to do standup and sharpen my craft, get back connected to my audience, with my fans.” It was necessary for him to get back to work, since he was having troubles with the IRS. He owed over $10 million in taxes, but he considers this a silver lining.
“That helped me get back to standup, because that connected me back with my audience. Because they can relate to that, because they got their own problems.”
While the IRS problem is no longer existent, Tucker is still performing at clubs, doing what he loves. While everyone is wondering, “where on Earth is Chris Tucker?” The truth is that he is exactly where he came from, doing what he’s always been doing. He was always a comedian first, actor second, and it seems as if that’s going to remain true.