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The untold truth of Jackie Chan

Born Chan Kong-sang in 1954, the man known to the world as actor/director/death-and-logic-defying stuntman Jackie Chan is one of the biggest movie stars in world history and the first to truly bridge the gap between Hong Kong action cinema and big-budget American blockbusters. From Drunken Master and Police Story to Rumble in the Bronx and Rush Hour, Chan has been making movies for more than 40 years. Now past the age of 60, he's still putting his life on the line to thrill audiences. Here are some things you probably didn't know about the amazing Jackie Chan.

He had a difficult gestation (and infancy)

Jackie Chan was born in April 1954, but he was supposed to be born in January 1954 — he hung out in his mother's womb for a full 12 months before a British doctor had to surgically remove him. At the time of his forced birth, he weighed a ridiculous 12 pounds. His mother nicknamed him Pao-Pao, or "cannonball." Nevertheless, that kind of medical procedure is expensive, and Chan's parents couldn't afford it; they tried to sell their baby to the doctor who delivered him. The doctor said no. According to Chan's memoir, his parents gathered the money from their friends and needed a decade to pay them all back.

He was in two movies with Bruce Lee

When Jackie Chan was 7 years old, his father took a job as head cook at the American embassy in Australia but couldn't bring Jackie. So the boy was enrolled and boarded at the China Drama Academy, where he was taught acting and singing in preparation for a career in the Peking Opera. It was there that Chan lived and trained for the next ten years, eventually forming an acrobatic troupe with some classmates called the Seven Little Fortunes. Upon leaving school, Chan used the group to gain his first roles in Hong Kong movies. He and the Seven Little Fortunes were extras and stuntmen in Enter the Dragon and Fists of Fury, two of the most famous and popular movies ever made by Bruce Lee. Chan even got to spar on-camera with the screen legend.

He was in a softcore porno movie

There are two things from the 1970s called All in the Family that today's children should probably avoid. One is a pedantic 1970s sitcom about political issues, and the other is a Hong Kong-made 1975 sex comedy starring Jackie Chan. While it was a long-standing urban legend that Chan made a "porno movie" early in his career, Chan addressed the rumor in 2006. It's not technically a pornographic film and the actors don't have actual sex, but there are a lot of sex scenes and Chan appears nude. It's the kind of thing that would be seen on Cinemax late at night.

So why did he do it? For the reason most actors make porn, softcore or otherwise: for the money. "I had to do anything I could to make a living 31 years ago, but I don't think it's a big deal. Even Marlon Brando used to be exposed in his movies," Chan said. All in the Family is also notable for being the only movie Chan ever starred in that doesn't include a stunt sequence.

He has a complicated relationship with voice acting

While a star in Asia since the 1970s, Jackie Chan wasn't a mainstream star in the U.S. until the release of Rumble in the Bronx in 1996. Before that, he helped bring American movies to Asia: he provided the Mandarin language voice acting of the Beast for the Chinese dub of Beauty and the Beast. Chan has since done voice work in the English-language releases of other major animated movies (such as Master Monkey in the Kung Fu Panda movies). One place he didn't lend his voice: the cartoon series Jackie Chan Adventures. While appearing in live-action bumpers for the show, the cartoon version of Jackie Chan is voiced by James Sie (who also took over as Master Monkey in the TV series spinoff of Kung Fu Panda). Oddly enough, the character of Jade Chan, Jackie's fictional niece on the series, was voiced by Stacie Chan, Jackie Chan's real-life niece.

He's gotten hurt a whole bunch

After starring in dozens of martial arts and action movies in which he's done his own stunts, Jackie Chan has sustained a number of injuries. So much so that in 2013, his movie Raising Dragon was promoted with a poster that consisted of an image of Chan's body with arrows pointing to all of his injured body parts. Among the injuries Chan has suffered in the pursuit of art and entertainment:

On Drunken Master, he damaged a bone behind his eyebrow, and it nearly blinded him.

He dislocated his right shoulder on City Hunter.

Chan fell out of a tree while filming The Armour of God and suffered a skull fracture, a bone cave-in behind the ear, and bleeding into his brain. During surgery, bone chips were removed from his head.

He broke his breastbone on Armour of God II.

During the filming of The Accidental Spy, he broke his tailbone and was temporarily paralyzed.

He's broken his nose four separate times: while making Young Master, Project A, Miracles, and Mr. Nice Guy.

He was supposed to be in a movie set at the World Trade Center

Around the time of the 9/11 terror attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001, Jackie Chan was in pre-production for an action comedy called Nosebleed. His character was a humble window washer at the WTC who foils an international terror plot to blow up the Statue of Liberty. The project was quickly canceled in the wake of 9/11.

He's generous (but not to his son)

Jackie Chan's a movie star, which means he's rich. He's amassed a fortune of more than $350 million. In addition to earning salary and box office percentages from his films, he's owned a chain of movie theaters and a Segway dealership. And when he dies, a lot of that is going to charity.

But his son, Jaycee Chan (pictured above), stands to inherit exactly none of that. In 2011, Chan publicly mentioned that he won't leave his fortune behind to his son, remarking, "If he is capable, he can make his own money. If he is not, then he will just be wasting my money." Jackie also admitted that he beat Jaycee once when he was a child and said he was not a "model father."

He supports communism

And while Jackie Chan has earned hundreds of millions of dollars, he's still very loyal to his home nation of China's political system of communism. That means the state controls most everything, and Chan is fine with that, to the point where he's spoken out against the American way of life on more than one occasion. In 2013, he said (translated from Mandarin): "The New China. The real success has been made in the past dozen of years. Our country's president also admits they have the corruption problem, and some other stuff, but we are making progress. What I can see is our country continuously making progress and learning. If you talk about corruption, the entire world, the United States, has no corruption? [It's] the most corrupt in the world."

In 2009, he talked about the dangers of too much freedom in China-controlled Taiwan. "I don't know whether it is better to have freedom or to have no freedom. With too much freedom, it can get very chaotic. It could end up like in Taiwan. Chinese people need to be controlled; otherwise, they will do whatever they want."

He required hundreds of takes of one scene

Directors may require a lot of takes to get a scene the way they want it — Stanley Kubrick required Shelley Duvall to film one scene in The Shining 127 times, for example. By that logic, the most exacting director that Jackie Chan has ever worked with is ... himself. While directing and starring in the 1982 movie Dragon Lord, a sequence in which characters play "jianzi" (a Chinese sport similar to hacky sack, but with a weighted, badminton-style shuttlecock) just didn't look right to director Chan. It's been reported that the scene took 2,900 takes, but it probably didn't take that many. The book Kung Fu Masters places the number over 190, and other estimates come in at over 1,000. Either way, Chan was dedicated to the shot.

He can train fish to do tricks

Everybody needs a hobby to provide a cathartic break from the rigors of work. And if your job is jumping off buildings and doing other acrobatic stunts that have broken a good number of your bones, that hobby should be both mellow and mind-oriented, as opposed to physical. For Jackie Chan, that hobby is training fish, particularly koi and catfish. In 2007, he posted this video on his official website, in which he demonstrates how he taught a fish to roll over for a belly rub.