Hailing from Hong Kong, Jackie Chan has had an extensive and successful career as a martial artist, actor, singer, director, and more. Although he got his start acting at an incredibly young age, he became increasingly popular over time until he became one of the most recognizable, influential, and highest-paid actors in the world. Aside from his acting, he is well-known for his philanthropy work and his staggering estimated net worth of over $350 million. Now, let’s take a look back at Chan’s life to learn some of the lesser-known facts about the beloved kung-fu fighting actor’s past and his rise to fame.
He Is A Trained Opera Singer And A Cantopop/Mandopop Star
Jackie Chan was enrolled at the Chinese Opera Research Institute from the ages of 11 to 17. There, he was put through heavy training, sometimes up to 19 hours a day, in order to prepare for a career in theater — whether it be singing, dancing, or martial arts.
After leaving school, he released 11 studio albums, nine compilation albums, sang a song at the 2008 Bejing Olympics closing ceremony, and has received Japan’s Best Foreign Singer Award. However, by the time Chan graduated, it became clear that he wasn’t going to become an opera star. He had decided to focus on doing martial arts in films.
He Uses Stuntmen For Unusual Reasons
Jackie Chan is well known for coordinating, as well as performing, his own stunts without fail. However, he doesn’t deny using a body double on occasions that don’t actually require any stunts. He has been known to utilize stand-ins for scenes when his character is driving, walking around, or performing any other menial tasks that don’t require Chan’s skill.
He does this in order to have an opportunity to rest and prepare for his rigorous stunts. The actor also makes sure that his stand-ins perform stunt tests so that they can synchronize their movements when in front of the camera.
He’s Run Into Trouble With The Triad Gang
With a net worth of over $350 million, it’s no secret that Jackie Chan is well off. His immense amount of money eventually led him to running into issues with the Triad gang in China. According to Time, Chan has been harassed by the group for years and was even once shot at by them while getting off of an airplane.
Supposedly, Chan once confronted them once equipped with a gun and other explosives showing that he means business. Since there are serious criminal penalties for weapons in Hong Kong, the authorities contacted him when they heard the story but have since stopped looking into the matter.
He Has A Hole In His Head
Over the course of his career, Jackie Chan has been known to perform his own stunts, no matter how dangerous some of them may be. This has led to countless injuries during filming. One particular accident left Chan with a permanent hole in his head.
While filming for the 1986 film Armour of God, Chan was swinging from a tree when he fell and hit his head on a rock. This resulted in him having a metal plate surgically installed into his head, leaving a permanent quarter-sized indentaion in his skull.
He Holds The World Record For The Most Credits On A Movie
In his Hong Kong films, it is not unusual for Chan to not only direct, but also produce and star in his own films. Yet, there are some projects that Chan has worked on where he has had even more roles than usual.
For the 2012 film Chinese Zodiac, Jackie Chan had 15 film credits, setting the current Guinness World Record for having the most credits in a single film. Some of his primary responsibilities included directing, producing, acting, fight choreography, art directing, composing, writing, cinematography, and many others.
He Opened Up A Segway Dealership
Back in 2006, Jackie Chan was excited about the idea of getting involved with clean-air transportation, especially the Segway scooter. That year, Chan opened up a Segway dealership along with distribution rights that allowed him to sell the scooters throughout parts of Asia.
Even though Segways at the time were relatively expensive, Chan still thought that it was better to help in any way that he could than not at all. Unfortunately, while Segways were priced at $5,000 in the United States, in China, they went for $10,000. This made them difficult to sell.
He Was Not A Fan Of His Rush Hour Films
Jackie Chan rose to popularity after many of his films from the early 1990s were re-released. His big break in the United States came from the 1998 film Rush Hour, in which he starred alongside comedian and actor Chris Tucker. In the film, Chan wasn’t allowed to do most of his own stunts, since the storyline was primarily about the disagreements between Tucker and Chan’s characters.
Chan didn’t understand the movie and claimed “That’s a terrible movie […] 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!”
His Mother Smuggled Opium
Born Chan Kong-sang in 1954, Jackie Chan was left behind by his parents in Hong Kong when he was just seven years old. They were escaping a Communist regime and moved to Australia where they worked for the American Embassy, leaving Chan in a boarding school.
It wasn’t until years later that Chan learned the truth about his parents. His father, Fang Daolang, was involved in criminal activity and may also have worked as a Nationalist spy. He also learned that his mother was arrested once for smuggling opium for the Shanghai underworld. Although he reunited with his father in 2003, his mother passed away in 2001.
He Loves His Build-A-Bear Dolls
Back in 2010, Chan visited a Build-a-Bear Workshop in London. There, he made two stuffed panda bears that he named Chan La and Chan Zy. Since then, he has been known to travel with these two stuffed animals almost everywhere he goes.
He also enjoys getting his fellow celebrities to pose with the two bears. The panda bears have pictures with Bill Clinton, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jet Li, and more. He even took the two pandas as his escorts to the Academy Awards in 2017.
He Almost Got Into A Real Fight On The Set Of A Movie
While filming for the 1984 film Wheels on Meals, Jackie Chan was filming a fight scene with world kickboxing champion Benny Urquidez when things got out of hand. Chan became annoyed that Urquidez was hitting him unnecessarily hard while filming and threatened him if he didn’t stop.
Finally fed up with Urquidez’s actions, Chan challenged the kickboxer to a real fight outside the studio. Luckily, both of them cooled off enough to call the fight off. People still wonder to this day who would have ended up winning.
He Appeared Nude In An Adult Movie
The majority of Jackie Chan’s films are appropriate for most ages. Although there may be violence in most of them, there’s usually a comedic side to them as well. However, in 1975, Jackie Chan appeared in the film All in the Family. This was a Japanese adult film, starring a famous adult film star and featuring a scene with a naked Jackie Chan in front of the camera.
Although Chan doesn’t do anything sexual, he claims that “I had to do anything I could to make a living 31 years ago […] The porn movie at that time was more conservative than the current films.”
His First Big Break Happened Because Of A Stunt
After graduating from school at the age of 17, Chan began working in the Hong Kong film industry as a stuntman. During that time, safety regulations and the money available were incredibly slim, so Chan was struggling to survive.
He has noted that his big break came when a director was looking for someone to perform an extremely technical and dangerous stunt that had to be done in one take. Chan volunteered and not only did it on the first take, but proved that it wasn’t just luck when he did it a second time. This helped to establish him as a highly-skilled stuntman in the film business.
Hollywood Confuses Him
Although he owes much of his success to Hollywood, Jackie Chan has been open about his doubts about the industry. Especially in his films like Rush Hour and Shanghai Noon, Chan claims that he doesn’t understand American humor or the Hollywood fascination with big car chases and larger-than-life explosions.
In the 1980s, Chan had trouble in Hollywood with directors not allowing him to be creative and trying to make him be more like Bruce Lee. This only made him even more annoyed with the industry although the money was a little too tempting for him to decline roles he didn’t necessarily like.
He Holds The Record For The Most Takes For One Scene
As it turns out, Jackie Chan is such a perfectionist that he’s even earned an award for it. While Charlie Chaplin may have filmed 300 takes trying to get the right shot of a rose, that’s nothing in comparison to Jackie Chan.
While directing the film Dragon Lord in 1982, Chan filmed 2,900 takes for a single 10-minute opening scene that involved dozens of other stuntmen. For his stubbornness, he was awarded by the Guinness Book of World Records for the highest number of takes for one scene in a movie.
He Has His Own Stuntmen Association
Early on in his career, Jackie would sometimes get hurt while performing stunts himself. What he needed was a highly-trained group of professionals that could help him execute the stunts safely. So, he started his own stuntmen’s association named Sing Kar Pan, made up of his most trusted and skilled friends.
Some of the members even go as far back with Chan as boarding school. The team helps Chan choreograph and pull off his stunts, and they even live together when shooting a movie. To date, Sing Kar Pan has worked on 28 of Chan’s films and counting.
He Has Put His Body Through The Ringer
If you perform your own stunts, you’re bound to get hurt every now and then, and Chan is no exception. His incredible stunts on the big screen come at a cost, with Chan even admitting that “Every movie I make, I have to risk my life to make it better.” Throughout his career, Chan has put his body through some traumatic injuries.
To name a few, he has had multiple broken noses, cervical spine damage, broken fingers, a broken breastbone, severe head trauma, and an accident that almost caused him to go blind. Yet, he shows no sign of slowing down.
He Refuses To Play Villains
Although he has been offered roles on numerous occasions, Jackie Chan puts his foot down when it comes to playing villains in movies. While he acted as nameless thugs in Bruce Lee films early in his career, he refuses to be an antagonist.
In the 1973 film originally titled Police Woman, he antagonizes a cab driver for information, which was about as evil as he has ever been on-screen. He also played an antihero in the film Shinjuku Incident and while he wasn’t the antagonist in the film, he claims that’s as dark as he’ll go.
He Designs Clothing
While filming for Rumble in the Bronx, Jackie Chan made quite the fashion statement when he wore a cast disguised as a shoe to hide a broken ankle. However, his involvement with fashion didn’t stop there. Jackie Chan Design, or JC Design, is a line of athletic, casual, and higher-end clothing designed and owned by Chan.
According to the company’s website, “All of Jackie Chan Design’s products are designed exclusively by Mr. Jackie Chan […] Whether for lifestyle or fashion, Jackie is involved in every step of the design process.” He even carries a “Stunt Sports Collection” for specialized stunt clothing.
The Supposed Curse Of Jackie Chan
Being one of the most recognized actors in the world, it’s not surprising that Jackie Chan is often approached to be a commercial spokesperson. He has done advertisements for beauty and health products, anti-virus software, and cars, among others. Yet, Chan’s endorsement doesn’t always lead to immediate success or success at all for these companies.
Some Chinese news outlets began to speculate that there was a curse on Chan, causing many of the companies Chan endorsed to fail shortly after he publicly supported them. A notable number of businesses Chan has spoken for suffered terrible misfortune, either filing for bankruptcy or being caught for fraud, just to name a few.
He’s A Huge Philanthropist
While many celebrities are involved in some sort of philanthropy, Jackie Chan puts many of them to shame. In 2006, Forbes called Chan “Philanthropy’s hardest working man,” discussing his major donations in both time and money to causes such as the Make-A-Wish Foundation and numerous others.
He started The Jackie Chan Charitable Foundation in 1988 which now offers services to victims of natural disasters. After the 2008 earthquake in Sichuan, Chan donated over $1.3 million for efforts. Then after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, he raised more than $3.4 million.