Comedian Chris Tucker was once the highest-paid actor in the world. But compared to his counterparts that have, or once had the title, Tucker’s career appeared to wane shortly afterward. Chris Tucker starred in huge films such as Friday, Rush Hour, and subsequent sequels at the height of his career. However, many have argued that the actor could have been more significant if he did not refuse specific roles. Fans of Tucker would be astonished to know of some of the other parts Chris Tucker has turned down.
Chris Tucker got his start in Hollywood when he appeared in Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper in 1992. The comedian also wowed fans on Def Comedy Jam. But his role in the 1995 film “Friday” would begin to set things off for Tucker. After starring in Friday, Chris Tucker starred in other major films such as The Fifth Element, Money Talks, and Jackie Brown. However, his hard work would finally lead him to a life-changing role, starring along with Jackie Chan as “Detective James Carter” in Rush Hour.
Fans of the Friday franchise may recall when the sequel, Friday After Next, was announced Chris Tucker would not be returning as the popular character, “Smokey.” The news came because the actor was uncomfortable portraying roles onscreen that went against his Christian values, which was confirmed in a recent tweet by rapper Ice Cube.
Ice Cube, who starred as “Craig” in Friday, shared in response to a fan that they were gearing up to pay Tucker “$10-12 [million] to do Next Friday. However, “religious reasons” barred the actor from returning for the sequel. “He didn’t want to cuss or smoke weed on camera anymore,” tweeted Ice Cube.
Chris Tucker’s religious roots begin very early in his life. The comedian touched on his religious upbringing in his 2015 Netflix standup special where he recalls his strict mother making sure they went to church all the time. After doing Money Talks and Friday, Chris Tucker recommitted his life to the Lord, opting to do jokes and roles that were less lewd in content.
After doing all three of the Rush Hour films, Chris Tucker’s onscreen presence became borderline nonexistent. However, the actor did resurface in 2012 with a supporting role in the critically acclaimed romantic dramedy, Silver Linings Playbook. Moving forward, Tucker’s material was noticeably different, with his language cleaned up. The acclaimed comedian shared with The Georgia Straight that his religious stance “helps” his comedic approach. “I have to talk about other stuff,” said Tucker. He then stated that he welcomes the “challenge” as he now has to “dig deeper” instead of taking an easier route.
Chris Tucker also shared his belief in what sets him apart from other comics. While others may lean on the “raunchy” content, he finds it funnier when the person is more “creative” and innovative in their approach. Following his success in Friday, Chris Tucker only starred in ten other films. Four roles occurred within the last twenty years. In Silver Linings Playbook, Chris Tucker appeared as “Danny McDaniels,” a good friend to the main character. The actor’s final film appearance was the 2016 war drama Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, where he portrayed a film producer named “Albert Brown.”
Although Chris Tucker has played plenty of roles and received many accolades, many of his fans would be appalled in discovering that Next Friday was not the only role he decided against. “Detective Lee Butters” was initially intended for Chris Tucker in Lethal Weapon 4. But, instead, comedian Chris Rock was given the part while Tucker went on to film Rush Hour.
The 2001 film Black Knight that starred Martin Lawrence was also, at first, presented to Chris Tucker. However, the actor turned it down as he found issues with the script. Tucker’s path into drama could have also started as early as 1999 as it was learned that the role of “Willie Beamen” in the LL Cool J-lead film Any Given Sunday was meant for him.
Other films such as The Pink Panther, Tower Heist, and Knight and Day were intended for Chris Tucker. But, perhaps one of the most shocking discoveries is that another major movie that eventually starred Jamie Foxx was initially designed for Chris Tucker. The actor was reportedly given the opportunity to lead in Quentin Tarantino’s Oscar Winning-film, Django Unchained, but also turned that down. Also considered for the starring role were Will Smith and Idris Elba. The movie went on to gross $162 million domestically and its rumored Foxx took home $3 million for the role.