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Fallon Takes 'Taxi' To Hollywood

In the new comedy "Taxi," Jimmy Fallon plays a cop chasing a gang of beautiful Brazilian bank robbers through the streets of New York with the help of a cab driver played by Queen Latifah.

In the film, Belle Williams (Latifah) is a speed demon. Flying through New York in her tricked-out taxi, she's earned a reputation as New York's fastest cabbie. But driving a cab is only a pit stop on the way to her real dream: Belle wants to be a race car champion.

And she's well on her way - until she's derailed by overeager cop Andy Washburn (Fallon), whose undercover skills are as good as his driving skills are bad. He has no driver's license.

To nab the evasive bank robbers, Washburn convinces Belle to team up with him to pursue Vanessa and crew.

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"I stop the vehicle, get in, and she's a great driver. She's like into NASCAR and she loves to race," Fallon told The Early Show co-anchor Hannah Storm.

Belle has carte blanche to drive at any speed and break any law. And so she does, producing numerous wild and hilarious chase scenes.

The car-less cop and speed-demon cabbie - New York's unlikeliest partners - engage in a high-speed game of cat and mouse with the robbers. That is, if Belle and Washburn don't end up killing each other first.

Fallon admits he's a bad driver in real-life, too: "I'm terrible. My parents are from Brooklyn. …They walk everywhere, so my dad taught me how to drive and he's terrible so I'm like second generation terrible."

Fallon met and bonded with Queen Latifah when she hosted "Saturday Night Live" in 2003.

He says their chemistry was so good, it almost got in the way of making "Taxi": "Our director says, 'Let's do the scene again. You're supposed to hate each other. Stop smiling and having a good time.'

"We did one scene where we were parking a car back and forth and smacking the bumpers back and forth. I had so much fun, I was crying."

Does Fallon miss "Saturday Night Live?"

"It's the best show ever in the world. It was my dream to be on it, and sad to leave, but you got to go" move on to new ventures, he told Storm.

PERSONAL FILE: JIMMY FALLON

  • BORN: James Fallon in Brooklyn, New York on September 19, 1974
  • EDUCATION: Attended Saugerties High School in Saugerties, New York (1992).
    Attended College of Saint Rose in Albany, N.Y. Left in spring 1996 to pursue comedy career.
  • BIO: A charming, energetic, tousle-haired young comic actor born in Brooklyn and raised in upstate New York, Jimmy Fallon began his stand-up career at age 17 and first appeared as a featured performer on "Saturday Night Live" a week after his 24th birthday.

    Dropping out of college in 1996, just a semester shy of graduation, Fallon headed to Los Angeles and trained with The Groundlings, the famed improvisational theater company.

    A guest role on the ABC series "Spin City" marked his screen debut in March of 1998, six months before his lifelong dream of starring on "Saturday Night Live," the sketch series that debuted a year after his birth would come true.

    Impressing producer Lorne Michaels in an audition where he impersonated John Travolta and Adam Sandler, Fallon landed a featured spot on "Saturday Night Live". Quickly winning over audiences with his unbridled comic excitement, sharp timing and fresh-faced hipness, the performer was soon a favorite, thanks to his good-natured reworkings of current top pop hits and recurring characters like the rowdy high school-age Bostonian with a demonstrative girlfriend (Rachel Dratch) and video camera always in tow.

    Fallon was promoted to regular cast member beginning in the 1999-2000 season, and also took on co-anchoring duties for the show's "Weekend Update" segment with writer Tina Fey, beginning in 2000.

    That same year, the young actor was rendered almost unrecognizable with a beard and older demeanor in his pleasing feature film debut as joyless band manager Dennis Hope in Cameron Crowe's semi-autobiographical Rock 'N Roll homage "Almost Famous."

    Versatile and appealing, with an irresistible boy-next-door way about him, Fallon became a comic with young heartthrob status. Even when he flubbed lines or shamelessly borrowed from SNL cast members of the past, it seemed endearing.

    After high-profile awards-hosting assignments on MTV, Fallon's acting career continued to grow: he was cast in a crucial role in Woody Allen's "Anything Else" (2003).

  • QUOTE:
    "The people who pop first on this show are the ones who you believe you can see right into their hearts. It was true of Gilda, it was true of John Belushi, and it's true of Jimmy Fallon. You just feel you know them." - "SNL" producer Lorne Michaels on Fallon's appeal, quoted in New York, October 18, 1999.
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