Ahead of his performance in Abu Dhabi , the comedian talks life, films and another ‘Rush hour’ movie.
This might come as complete surprise but comedian and actor Chris Tucker  really loves movies. No, really. He breathes and lives movies. And when he wants to unwind, he goes to the movies.
“Even if I go to fall asleep I still do. I love doing that,” he laughs.
Strange, considering it took the 41-year-old more than five years to appear in one. His last film, before the multi-nominated ‘Silver Linings Playbook’, was the hugely successful ‘Rush Hour 3’ – the franchise that made him famous. And that was 2007.
“People might not know this but I’ve been busy working. I went back to stand-up about six years ago and have been touring for the last few years in the States and now we’re taking it international,” he says.
Tucker’s first stop is Abu Dhabi, where he will perform on Thursday and Friday (February 28 and March 1) at the du Forum on Yas Island .
“I was in Dubai  for the opening of the Atlantis, The Palm, and had a great time although I didn’t get a chance to ride a camel. So I can’t wait to come to Abu Dhabi,” he says. “I heard the city has great museums. I’m looking forward to coming out there and have a good time.”
Before he got back on the stand-up circuit, Tucker says he took about two months off to help promote ‘Silver Linings…’, which was nominated for eight Oscar awards including best picture. He was speaking over the phone from London, where he attended and presented the Bafta (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) Awards.
The reason he waited so long to do another movie, he says, was because he was waiting for “good stuff”.
“I am picky,” he explains. “I wanted to be able to show a different side of me and my role in ‘Silver Linings…’ was a dramatic one. It was a smaller role compared to what I usually do but it was important. And I was working with a great director and an amazing cast. I look for stuff like.”
Tucker started off on the comedy circuit at 19 and made his film debut three years later in 1994 with ‘House Party 3’. Critical acclaim came the next year with the comedy-drama ‘Friday’, which spawned two sequels, also starring Ice Cube. Appearances in a few music videos including 2Pac’s ‘California Love’ followed along with a role in the box office scorcher ‘Fifth Element’ (1997). But it was the release of ‘Rush Hour’ the next year that threw Tucker and co-star Jackie Chan into the big league. By the time the third ‘Rush Hour’ film was announced in 2007, Tucker had become one of the highest paid actors in Hollywood, commanding an excess of $25 million (Dh91.82 million) for the film.
And then he disappeared, only to return last year as Danny, who forms a close bond in a mental health facility with Bradley Cooper’s character in ‘Silver Linings Playbook’. While most of his co-stars were nominated for the Oscar awards including Cooper for Best Actor, Jennifer Lawrence (Best Actress), Robert DeNiro (Best Supporting Actor) and Jacki Weaver (Best Supporting Actress), Tucker, whose performance has been praised by critics, says it was a blessing being involved with the film.
“It’s been great being part of this film and representing it. I want to soak it all up [during the awards season].”
And then, it’s back to what he loves doing best.
“Abu Dhabi is the first stop on our international tour. Then I’m going to Oman, Qatar and Australia. We’re going to be all over the place.”
Fans can expect something they have never experienced before, Tucker promises.
“I’ll be talking about my life over the last 20 years, how it’s changed, becoming a celebrity, my family and growing up in Georgia in the south. [I think] they will be fascinated about my point of view of life, about friends that I have gathered along the way and my experiences.”
The stand-up scene has changed a lot, he adds.
“It’s definitely different. The world has changed a lot with computers and technology. Now they film you and things get on the internet. That wasn’t going on in the early ’90s. Also, materials change with the way the world has evolved. I think there’s a lot more to talk about. So I think it’s the best time to be a stand-up.”
To aspiring comedians in the UAE’s fledgling stand-up scene, his advice is “to live”.
“Great materials come out of life. Live it to get it and experience it. Also get on the stage as much as you can. A lot of stage time is good. Work out your jokes.”
‘Rush Hour’ fans, pay close attention now: Tucker says he is in talks with producers.
“Let’s see how it goes. Hopefully, we can get another one in because Jackie and I want to do one last one. So hopefully we can get that going.”
Hopefully, it won’t be another five years’ wait.
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By David Tusing