It may have taken over half a century, more than 200 films, and countless broken bones, but action hero and martial arts superstar Jackie Chan finally has his Oscar.
The Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences first announced that Chan was one of the four “true pioneers and legends in the crafts” that they’d voted to present with Honorary Awards in 2016 back in August. But it wasn’t until the 8th Annual Governors Awards on Saturday, November 12 in Hollywood that the star finally got his hands on his little gold statue.
And, as it turns out, he’s been waiting for that moment for quite some time.
In his acceptance speech, Chan said that he’d first encountered an Oscar 23 years ago at his friend Sylvester Stallone’s home. “I see this little face in his house. I touched it. I kissed it. I smelled it. I believe it still has my finger prints on it,” he said of the award. “Then I told myself ‘I really want one.’”
Chan’s road to the Academy Awards was always going to be harder than that of his more traditionally dramatic counterparts. As Tom Hanks pointed out in his tribute during the ceremony, Chan “has worked mostly in martial arts films and action comedies – two genres that have been, for some reasons, shall we say historically underrepresented at the Oscars.”
Hanks went on to suggest that this was particularly frustrating when it came to an artist with Chan’s scope and talent. “Great acting comes in many different forms. But when you’re an actor, you know it when you see it,” he declared.
Comparing Chan’s dramatic work to John Wayne’s classic Western persona and his comedic chops to Buster Keaton, Hanks said that it was remarkable to find such talent in one human being. And, he went on to point out, neither Wayne nor Keaton had such an extensive collection of bloopers to their name – or quite as many injuries in the name of their art.
Michelle Yeoh, who scored her first big break as an actress and martial artist when she starred in Supercop with Chan, also spoke about the fearlessness inherent in her co-star’s performances – and the danger he can court along the way. “Jackie is a generous performer. He is as generous to his costars as he is to his audience,” she declared before sharing a story about how competitive the two got on the set of Supercop. Every time that she attempted a wild stunt, she confessed, he felt the need to top it. “Until finally Jackie pulled me aside and ‘We have to stop! You roll off the roof of a car, I have to roll off the roof of a building. You jump on the train on a motorcycle, I have to do it out of a helicopter. If this keeps up, I’m going to end up dead!’”
Here’s a taste of that creative rivalry:
Luckily they both survived and were able to give us this touching tribute:
Chris Tucker, who plays Chan’s partner in the beloved Rush Hour series, touched on the financial perks of working with Chan. “You made a lot of people rich, Jackie,” he smiled. But Tucker’s biggest praise was saved for the artistic and personal benefits of teaming up with him. “Working with a living legend was amazing. Every day I couldn’t wait to come on the set to see Jackie Chan,” he said, before joking about his own lateness and how frustrated that made his costar. Before presenting Chan with the award, he also hinted that the long-rumored Rush Hour 4 might still be in the works. “It was an honor working with you, and I can’t wait to work with you again.”
Chan also got to participate in what is, arguably, another unofficial Oscar-winning tradition of sorts at the tail end of his speech: being played off by the orchestra. The star was not deterred, though. He was able to shut down the band in order to give one final – and very important – declaration of gratitude. “Last but not least, a million thanks to all of my fans around the world. You are the reason I continue to make moves, jumping out of windows, kicking and punching, and breaking my bones!”
Here’s his fantastic – or “Chantastic,” to use a word that Tom Hanks coined during his intro – acceptance speech in its entirety:
Reflecting on the event in his blog two days later, Chan thanked everyone who had contributed to the honor – and then went on to reveal that he was already back at work! “Although my Oscars trip has come to an end, I’d like to take this opportunity to say a heartfelt “thank you” to Tom Hanks and Michelle Yeoh for their speeches at the ceremony; thanks to Chris Tucker for presenting me the award; thanks to all the judges; thanks to everyone who witnessed this special moment and also for your well wishes. I’m already back in Beijing and working on the set! To me, the moment I receive any honorary award becomes a moment in the past. In the future, I will continue to strive and do my best, and make more good movies for everyone to enjoy! Once again, big big “thank you” to you all!”
Are you excited about Jackie Chan’s Oscar? What’s your favorite film of his? Let us know in the comments!
“It’s been 56 years since I filmed my first movie when I was six, and I’ve worked on over 200 films to date. I’d like to say a heartfelt thank you to the Oscars for giving me this award of encouragement and recognizing my achievements while I’m still “young”. I’m absolutely honored to be the first Chinese in history to receive this award.” A photo posted by Jackie Chan (@eyeofjackiechan) on