Chris Tucker Explains How Ben Affleck Lured Him Back From Hollywood Hiatus

Chris Tucker revealed to People this week that Ben Affleck himself pulled the Rush Hour star out of his self-imposed Hollywood exile. Tucker returned to cinemas earlier this year in Affleck’s award-winning Nike biopic, Air. He earned rave reviews for playing Jordan brand VP Howard “H” White in the dramedy, but as Tucker reported, White wasn’t even included in the original script. Affleck, however, gave him free rein to curate the role.

Tucker rose to prominence in the mid-1990s and took on his most well-known role as Detective James Carter in Rush Hour (1998), opposite Jackie Chan. He went on to star in two Rush Hour sequels. Though he took brief roles in Silver Linings Playbook (2012) and Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (2016), Tucker’s renaissance remained elusive before Air.

The actor told People that his time away from screens was out of a desire to find “the right role.” That turned out to be White in Affleck’s film, which chronicles Nike talent scout Sonny Vaccaro’s attempts to woo Michael Jordan to a groundbreaking sponsorship. But surprisingly, Tucker’s character didn’t even exist when the director initially offered him the role.

“[White] wasn’t even in the script,” Tucker revealed. “Ben came to me and said, ‘It’s not really a part there, but you can do whatever you want to do and we’ll write something in there.’”

Luckily for Tucker, he and White have been friends for years. Part of Affleck’s reason for offering him the role had to do with the actor’s unprecedented access to his inspiration. Tucker and White’s relationship aided in the character’s development and ultimately resulted in the actor structuring his sequences in the film.

“Thank God I knew Howard, so I was able to do a lot of research and get a lot of stuff, and I wrote all my parts in that movie,” Tucker told the outlet. “I wrote all six scenes.”

Tucker, who’s currently promoting his Legend stand-up tour, explained that he felt at home writing for his character, and influencing how the other characters interacted with him, due to his extensive experience in improv.

As for his acting career moving forward, Tucker has nothing but good feelings. “I think the best is yet to come,” he said. “Greater work is yet to come, and I’m just excited about the future.”

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