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Jackie Chan's '80 Days'

With his unique blend of martial arts and physical comedy, Jackie Chan has been called the Charlie Chaplin for a new generation.

In his latest film, a retelling of Jules Verne's classic "Around The World In 80 Days," he plays a mysterious man who helps an English inventor accomplish this massive feat.

"Everybody knows "Around the World in 80 Days," and that's been a great jumping-off point for us to make something like nothing before," says Chan. He visits The Early Show on Wednesday to talk about the film, in which he not only acts, but also serves as co-executive producer.

Along the way, the heroes (London inventor Phileas Fogg, played by Steve Coogan; his valet Passepartout [Chan] and thrill-seeking French artist Monique, played by Cécile De France) face many adventures and obstacles.

And as usual, Chan does all the stunts, which he notes are not easy. "I hurt myself," Chen tells co-anchor Hannah Storm, "But the director doesn't know. He watches the monitor." He says many times he has to do several takes leaving his body quite sore.

"Sometimes, the director is crazy," Chan says. "Sometimes, I really want to put him up (to do the stunts)."

Frank Coraci ("The Wedding Singer" and "The Waterboy") directs. "This is a hilarious movie," says Chan, who shows off his signature comic-action style in several set pieces. "Frank was very open to all the ideas I had for the action scenes. We both like to make people laugh, and I think people are going to laugh when they see this movie. It's a lot of fun."

Chan actually has his own stunt team that he has personally trained and takes them to each movie he does. Chan, who has broken many bones over the years, notes that things in Hollywood are done quite differently from moviemaking in Hong Kong.

He says, "When I'm making a Hollywood film, they so protect me. Whatever I do, 'Wait, wait, wait, let me check first. Let everybody check.' There's a safety captain on the set, ambulance on the set, so many people watching me. In China, in the old days in Hong Kong, we don't care. Rolling, do it, boom, ow! Make sure the camera got the shot. OK, send me to the hospital. It's different."

And it is understandable for Hollywood to want to protect the actor, who, this time gets to work with such stars as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Kathy Bates, and Rob Schneider.

Working with Schwarzenegger was something Chan has always wanted to do.

"I tried to work with him so many times," Chan says, noting that the right script had not come along until now. "He doesn't want to die; he wants to win; I want to win. But the first time we invited him to 'Around The World In 80 Days,' he jump in right away. And when I see him, he's not tough anymore. He says, 'Hi, Jackie, nice to see you, nice working with you.' He was always playing chess in the corner."

Always playing chess?

"Yeah, big giant guy," Chan says. "Then after he became governor, I think: 'Aaah, that's how he trained how to protect friends.' Probably one day, he's president."

As for Chan, he says he has a clothing line, a restaurant and other venues to prepare him for retirement. But at 50, he still plans to continue with his movie career.

"I am different than some other people. I had very good training when I was young. This is why I'm 50 and I can still move a lot of things, still can do a lot of different things," he says.

Fast facts about Jackie Chan:

  • Born in Hong Kong on April 7, 1954, from poor parents who even considered selling him to the British doctor who delivered him.
  • In 1961, he was indentured in a 10-year stint with the Chinese Opera Research Institute, where he learned how to sing, dance, mime, do acrobatics and a variety of martial arts, all under threat of corporal punishment (caning) and food deprivation.
  • In 1962, he began his film career at age 8 in the Cantonese feature "Big and Little Wong Tin Bar." Chan is said to have been in more than 25 films by age 10. He graduated at age 17 and, using the name Chen Yuan Long, found work as a stunt man, martial arts fighter and extra at the Shaw Brothers studios.
  • In 1971, Chan served as the stunt double for the dreaded Mr. Suzuki in "Fist of Fury/The Chinese Connection," receiving a compliment from Bruce Lee. Chan successfully executed what was reportedly the highest fall ever attempted in a Hong Kong film.
  • Today, Chan has surpassed the prematurely deceased Lee to become the biggest box-office draw in Japan and the rest of Asia. He has repeatedly set and broken box-office records with some of the most lavish productions in Asian cinema. Chan is also a sensation as a pop recording star; many of his films feature him singing the themes and performing numbers.
  • In 1983, he became part of the Seven Little Fortunes, a student performance group in which he was associated with Samo Hung and Yuen Biao. The Three Brothers, as they came to call themselves, formed a coordinated action-comedy trio and performed in "Wheels on Meals" (1983) and "Dragons Forever" (1988), both directed by Hung, and the Chan-directed classic "Project A" (1983).
  • Beginning with "The Big Brawl" (1980), Chan also made several attempts to cross over to fame on the American screen with limited success: as part of the large comedy ensembles headed by Burt Reynolds in the two "Cannonball Run" racecar movies (1980, 1983) and as an unlikely New York cop opposite Danny Aiello in "The Protector" (1985).
  • In 1986, Chan gained creative control in his fifth English-language release, "Rumble in the Bronx." The film was No.1 in its opening week.
  • While his next few films stumbled at the box office (i.e., "Mr. Nice Guy" 1998), "Rush Hour" (also 1998) proved to be a crowd pleaser, teaming the martial artist with rising comic actor Chris Tucker and leading to the inevitable sequel (2001's "Rush Hour 2"). The immense popularity of the "Rush Hour" films set the tone for the next stage in Chan's U.S. career. Instead of being called on to carry a picture on his own, he would be teamed with a popular sidekick in action-oriented buddy comedies. The actor's next successful outing was with Owen Wilson in "Shanghai Noon" (2000).
  • In 2002, Chan joined Jennifer Love Hewitt in the action comedy "The Tuxedo." And in 2003, he rejoined Wilson for the sequel "Shanghai Knights" which took the two leads to London for a further dose of slapstick action. That same year, Chan starred in "The Medallion," playing a detective who suffers a fatal accident involving a mysterious medallion and is transformed into an immortal warrior with superhuman powers.
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