NEW YORK — Disappearing acts are cool for magicians, but for celebrities? Not so much. But comedian Chris Tucker isn’t worried about his long absence from the public eye.
The last time we saw Tucker on the big screen, he was playing wisecracking Detective James Carter in 2007’s “Rush Hour 3,” the final film in a franchise that grossed nearly $850 million worldwide.
Instead of doing another movie, Tucker, 38, is returning to his roots with a multicity comedy tour. It was his appearance on Def Comedy Jam in the early ’90s that led to his other indelible role, the loudmouth pothead Smokey in the 1995 film “Friday.”
Tucker talked to Newsday from his home in Atlanta (he splits his time between there and Los Angeles), where he discussed returning to the road, why he no longer curses in his routine and his friendships with Michael Jackson and Charlie Sheen.
Q. What have you been doing these past couple of years?
A. Just chillin’ out and working on a lot of stuff, and now I’m doing the tour. I’m having a ball.
Q. Why did you decide to go back on the road instead of doing another movie?
A. It was something I could do right away, and it’s all me. It’s real stuff, it’s my real life. It gets me ready for the movies. It keeps me sharp, keeps me creative. This was something I needed to do before I jumped back into a big role.
Q. Are we going to see you in a movie soon?
A. Yeah, real soon. We have some stuff, I can’t really talk about it, but we have a few things that I’ve been developing and things we’ve been looking at that we’re getting ready to start filming real soon.
Q. You were in a movie with Charlie Sheen. What did you think about what happened with him?
A. Charlie is a great, great person. I’m glad I got to know the real Charlie Sheen. When I did the movie “Money Talks,” he was really nice to me and really had my back through the whole movie back then.
Q. Would you work with him again?
A. Of course! I love Charlie.
Q. In the early days of your stand-up, you used to do a Michael Jackson impression. Is he still a part of your act?
A. Oh, definitely, definitely. Michael was a good friend of mine, and he was a hero, and I do talk about meeting him in my act.
Q. What was he really like?
A. He was just the nicest person you ever wanted to be around. Big as he was as a superstar, he would treat everybody the same. He definitely treated me nice, with respect. He never, not one time, made me feel like he was bigger than me. He was a like a big brother.
Q. You were on George Lopez recently, and he mentioned that you don’t swear, drink or smoke. Think your fans would be surprised?
A. Yeah, I think they are. I mainly said that because I’m a perfectionist, and early in my career I always wanted to be a better comedian, and I didn’t want my jokes to end with a cussing word.
I’m not perfect with the cussing, but I don’t cuss in my everyday life. I’m glad I did that because it made me a better person, and it made me a better comedian, too.