By Kevin Jagernauth | The Playlist September 6, 2011 at 8:43AM
While everyone getting excited about a possible Eddie Murphy comeback now that he has "Tower Heist" and the Oscar hosting gig coming up (jeez, people, have we already forgotten about “Hong Kong Phooey”?) it looks like another Brett Ratner buddy is making some even bolder steps back into the spotlight.
Chris Tucker, the motormouth who hasn't appeared on the big screen since 2007's "Rush Hour 3," is lining up roles in two films that are a far cry from him trading barbs with Jackie Chan. First up, Variety reveals that the actor is in talks to join David O. Russell's "The Silver Linings Playbook." Based on the book by Matthew Quick, the story centers on Pat Peoples (Bradley Cooper), a former high school teacher who, after being released from a four-year stint in a mental institution, moves back in with his mother; he then seeks to remake himself, finding the titular silver linings in his life. Jennifer Lawrence will take on the part of a depressed neighbour, who after the death of her husband, goes on a wild sexual spree, loses her job and eventually becomes friends with and a love interest for Pat. As for Tucker, he will play Pat's friend who resides in a mental hospital, but breaks out multiple times in order to visit him. O. Russell + Tucker? That will be some kind of interesting chemistry, and we have to say it's a pretty inspired bit of casting.
But wait, that's not all. Tucker is looking to exercise his funny bones some more in "Neighborhood Watch." The film, which stars Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill and Rosemarie DeWitt, tells the story of a suburban watchdog group that uncovers an alien invasion plot. Tucker is eyeing the role of Jamarcus, a divorcee who hopes that by joining the watch group he can get out of the house a little more often. Again, another nice role for an actor who has for too long been straight-jacketed in to the tepid "Rush Hour" franchise (though truthfully, it also made Tucker a shitload of cash, so who's complaining).
So while these roles are not "Django Unchained," they are frankly more logical choices for the actor that will allow him to play right to his fanbase while still stretching his wings a little bit. It should be mentioned that Tucker pocketed a ridiculous $25 million for "Rush Hour 3," but those days of Hollywood dropping big money on a single actor before a frame has been shot are long gone. We reckon Tucker's upfront salary has been slashed but he'll likely get a good back-end reward on both if they do well (which they should). Both films are gearing up to shoot this fall.