If you’re wondering why you haven’t seen Chris Tucker, star of nineties blockbusters like “Jackie Brown” and the “Rush Hour” action franchise, on the big screen lately, Ice Cube may have just offered an explanation.
The rapper said on Twitter Wednesday that he offered Tucker a huge payday to reprise the role of Smokey in a sequel to the hit 1995 comedy, “Friday,” but the comedian passed for the sake of his religious convictions. “We were ready to pay Chris Tucker $10-12m to do ‘Next Friday’ but he turned us down for religious reasons. He didn’t want to cuss or smoke weed on camera anymore,” Ice Cube said.
According to a YouTube documentary on the channel Comedy Hype and Tucker’s own stand-up sets, the one-time highest-paid actor in the world was raised in a Pentecostal household, and his parents regularly took him to church. He wandered away from the faith once his comedy career took off, but when he moved back to Atlanta in the late nineties, he became a born-again Christian. Various reports hold that at that point he became much more selective about the roles he accepted. Among the films he is rumored to have turned down — “Any Given Sunday” and “Lethal Weapon 4.”
In a 2014 interview with the Canadian newspaper, Straight, he revealed that his faith led him to return to his first professional love, stand-up comedy, though his act is different now than it was in his early days.
“Being a Christian helps me in comedy. I have to talk about other stuff,” he said, adding, “Normally, most comics talk about stuff that’s easy—maybe cussing or saying something raunchy. I have to dig deeper to find something that’s still funny and not raunchy. It’s harder. I like the challenge.”
Tucker’s faith has also led him to buck the typical left-wing talking points of his industry. In 2018, he told Piers Morgan on “Good Morning Britain” that he wanted then-President Donald Trump to do a “good job” and that he regularly prayed for him.
Social media users generally seemed impressed with Tucker’s decision to forgo continued stardom in order to stand by his convictions, with Forbes contributor Brian Mazique replying, “RESPECT.” Pop-culture pundit Kinsey Schofield joked: “I wish I had that kind of discipline. I love Jesus but I could buy a lot of lipo with that kind of money.” And sports reporter Jason Jones said, “Crazy thing is I thought folks knew this already.”
A few people made jokes about Tucker being named during Ghislaine Maxwell’s trial as someone who once flew on financier Jeffrey Epstein’s private jet, but it should be noted that the actor was apparently accompanying Epstein on a humanitarian aid trip to Africa. There have been no allegations or evidence that Tucker participated in any of the sexual activities that resulted in scandals and charges for other Epstein associates.
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