Chris Tucker's First Jackie Chan Encounter Didn't Go As Planned

When Chris Tucker meets Jackie Chan for the first time onscreen in "Rush Hour" he screams at Chan, "Do you understand the words that are coming out of my mouth?" In real life, this scene wasn't too far off base from their actual meeting. The first time the actors met, it played out just like a scene from the movie they were about to shoot.

Despite their inauspicious introduction, the comedy-action duo partnered for a wildly successful trilogy, and the internet is always littered with stories about a potential fourth film. The buddy cop franchise has grossed just under a billion dollars worldwide, according to Box Office Mojo. "Rush Hour" also cemented Chan, already a successful Hong Kong action star, as a Hollywood leading man, and made the burgeoning Chris Tucker into a megastar.

Not bad for a series whose stars got off to a rocky start, leaving Tucker to wonder how they would ever make a movie together.

Jackie Chan thought Rush Hour was terrible

The original 1998 "Rush Hour" pairs fast-talking American L.A.P.D. detective James Carter (Tucker) with Hong Kong Inspector Lee (Chan) to find a Chinese diplomat's kidnapped daughter. Much of the comedy is communication-based, making the frenetically-paced Tucker a perfect choice opposite Chan, for whom English is a second language.

But the movie almost didn't happen. According to Yahoo!, Chan had given up on breaking into the American film market after two decades, but his manager urged him to try one more time. Chan said:

"Nobody knew who this little Chinese guy was that spoke no English. I was disappointed and thought, 'No more American market.'"

Then "Rush Hour" came along, where Chan's speaking style would be integrated into the movie as part of the "East meets West" buddy cop humor. Chan agreed to make the film, but he didn't see the appeal in the humor, even calling it a terrible movie. After first seeing "Rush Hour" Chan said, "The English, I'm not good. Chris Tucker's English, I don't understand. Terrible movie!"

And while a lot of the miscommunication was scripted, the pair struggled to get on the same page from the moment they met.

'Who is this Black man talking to me?'

Though the duo's chemistry is obvious from the moment they meet onscreen, it didn't always feel like a sure thing. According to the New York Post, Tucker had his doubts when he first met Chan. Tucker said:

"I knew who Jackie was, I've always been a big fan, so I was telling him what we could do to make the movie good and stuff, and he was looking at me like, 'Who is this Black man talking to me?' I thought he didn't know English 'cause he didn't say one word. I said, 'This man's not talking, how we gonna do this movie?'"

In a rebuttal that sounds like a line of dialogue from one of the "Rush Hour" films, Chan claimed he's not the only one to blame for the miscommunication between the two actors. Chan said:

"My English is not that good, but he speaks very terrible English, too. He talk to me and I say to my manager, 'What happened? Is my English getting worse?' But my manager [said] he don't understand him, either."

Chan admitted to not liking Tucker at first because he would improvise on the set. But after filming three movies together, the pair have become friends off-screen. Chan even credits their cultural differences for much of the organic humor between them. In retrospect, the story behind the pair's initial meeting adds even more humor to that already hilarious scene where they meet onscreen for the first time.

With those box office returns and the ongoing whispers about a fourth movie still ongoing well over a decade after "Rush Hour 3," it seems audiences everywhere understood what "Rush Hour" was talking about, even if it didn't start out that way for its stars.