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In No 'Rush' for Six Years, Tucker Returns to Acting
"I asked the director, 'Does this guy speak English? We can't be funny if I can't speak to him,' " he remembers saying. "But he was just feeling me out. So I took that to the movie. That was how it all started."
And how Tucker's most famous line -- "Do you understand the words that are coming out of my mouth?" -- was born.
The actor's inaugural voyage to Africa was in promotion of the first "Rush Hour," when the local media kept urging him to take time to "Go to Soweto. Go see the real people."
There wasn't time that trip, so he returned a few months later and has been returning ever since. Most of his philanthropic work is focused on getting clean water and medical care to children in the poorest parts of the continent.
"These kids are so smart and so happy, and some of them just want a book to read," he said. "And I felt like that was more important. To give, rather than taking all the time."
Tucker said he rejected many projects during the years between "Rush Hour 2" and "Rush Hour 3," which has Chan and him fighting a Chinese crime syndicate in the United States and France.
To warm up for the third "Rush Hour" installment, Tucker went on a 20-city stand-up tour, and he'll resume that circuit in the coming months, this time filming it for a video special.
After that he's set to begin shooting "Mr. President," a movie he helped write and will produce. The comedy puts Tucker in the White House as the country's first black commander in chief.
"I turned down a lot of roles because I didn't feel like they were right for me. And I don't regret it," he said. "I have a long career in front of me."