Don't ask Jackie Chan why his latest film, "Chinese Zodiac," is the first he's directed in a long time. As far as Chan is concerned, he should get credit for directing every single movie in which he's appeared, both in the U.S. and China, regardless of what the credited director on a film might say.
"Actually, I'm nonstop directing. We're talking about 'Rush Hour 1, 2 and 3,' 'Shanghai Noon,' 'Shanghai Knights' — all the movie's I've made, on the set I'm almost half-director," Chan says. "They have to listen to me."
Chan insists this is by necessity given his experience with coordinating elaborate action sequences — and because he's the guy who has to do all the ridiculous stunts in said sequences. But it isn't always an easy collaboration. "Some directors just pretend," he says. "I've had so many bad experiences — I try to help, and somehow they know 'Entertainment Tonight' is on the set filming us. Most of the time I'm directing, but then suddenly one day, 'Hey!' Then I realize, 'Oh, you want to show off for Entertainment Tonight. OK.' Why do you have to have such a big ego? We just want to make a good movie."
That might explain why Chan is back in the director's chair for real with "Chinese Zodiac," a film many mistakenly believe will be Chan's final bow as an action star. "In Cannes I announced that this is my last big action movie. So many people forgot the 'big,'" he says, explaining that he has no plans to retire from acting. "I'm not young anymore. Seven more months and I'm going to be 60, okay? I did this one because I wanted to that I could still do a big action movie. But when I was doing this one, it was really, really painful, not like it used to be. Me, I want to do it, but my body tells me to stop. How long can I keep doing this?"
So what does he have in mind if he's not going to be jumping off buildings anymore? "In Hollywood it's difficult to find a good script for myself," he admits. "These last couple of days I sit down and hear, 'The idea is you and Chris Tucker, you know?' Then we meet another screenwriter: 'A good idea, you and Owen Wilson.' Then I go to the studio, Warner Bros., and see two writers: 'You and Chris Tucker…' Can I do something like 'Kramer vs. Kramer'? You know, slow motion on the beach, singing the song, 'The Sound of Music,' something! Here in Hollywood, everybody associates me with action, but I go back to my home in China and I can do whatever I want to do."