Jackie Chan reveals dark side in memoir

Jackie Chan wrote in his book Never Grow Up that he used to think his wife was after his money.
Jackie Chan wrote in his book Never Grow Up that he used to think his wife was after his money.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Confessions include gambling, drink driving and treating women badly in his younger days

HONG KONG • In the 2006 movie Rob-B-Hood, Jackie Chan warms hearts playing a character who protects a toddler from harm.

But in excerpts from an upcoming memoir Never Grow Up, his fans will likely be shocked to learn that the action star once threw another toddler - his own son, Jaycee - across the room during an argument with his wife, former actress Lin Feng-jiao.

Luckily, Jaycee landed on a sofa and was not hurt.

This darker side of Chan, in contrast to the reliable, solid, upright characters he portrays on screen, also included treating women badly in his younger days.

According to the excerpts published in The Daily Mail, he used to visit prostitutes and drive when he was drunk. Once, he crashed a Porsche in the morning and a Mercedes-Benz later at night.

When Chan, now 64, started a relationship with Lin, he was fearful that she was after his money. He later broke her heart when he had an affair with actress and former Miss Asia, Elaine Ng.

In the book, written in Chinese and translated into English, he blames his behaviour on his insecurities and immaturity. Because he did not focus on his studies, his father sent him away at a young age to a school where he was forced to pick up martial arts, among other activities.

When he started working as a stuntman, he splurged his money on gambling and prostitutes.

He pins his wild lifestyle down to his work as a stuntman. "We all knew that if something went wrong, we wouldn't live to see the sun rise the next day. We had a short-term mentality, which means recklessly spending our money."

He felt inferior even when his career took off in 1978 with movies such as Snake In The Eagle's Shadow and Drunken Master.

There was one year when he chalked up big bills "paying for other people's meals. I gave extravagant gifts too - watches, cars, custom-made leather jackets, cases of expensive wine".

He was not comfortable dating the more polished Teresa Teng, purposely drinking soup straight from the bowl in her presence, instead of using a spoon.

"But it wasn't her fault. She'd done nothing wrong and I'd been horribly unfair to her," Chan recalls of the famous Taiwanese singer who died in 1995.

He married Lin only when she got pregnant in 1981. But he "worked through her whole pregnancy" and did not visit her in California when she was preparing to give birth.

Worse, he writes, he believed his friends when they told him Lin might have got pregnant on purpose, so he "constantly thought of ways to keep my money from her".

Chan, who made US$50 million (S$68.5 million) last year, according to Forbes, is a household name in the United States, with hits such as Rumble In The Bronx (1995) and the Rush Hour franchise.

The actor, who was handed an Oscar for lifetime achievement in 2016, writes that he was surprised when he found out that another action hero, Sylvester Stallone, had a collection of all his films.

Although he believes most people would think that he has done well, he admits that his family does not think so.

"I've not been a good father or a good husband, but I did my duty to my son and his mother."

The book does not mention Etta, his love child with Elaine Ng, an affair that made headlines in 1999.

But he does mention the affair in the book, revealing that he told Lin and Jaycee that "I've made an unforgivable mistake and I don't know how I can explain it, so I won't".

He writes that Lin cried and Jaycee stared at him, but they forgave him.

• Never Grow Up can be ordered from Amazon for US$17.10 (S$23.45). It will be out next Tuesday. The Chinese version, which is already out, is available for US$9.93.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 01, 2018, with the headline 'Jackie Chan reveals dark side in memoir'. Print Edition | Subscribe