Jon Foo Previews the Action-Packed Rush Hour TV Show: 'We Smashed a Lot of Things'

Marisa Roffman
Rush Hour Premiere
Cliff Lipson/CBS

CBS is looking to tap into the buddy-cop world with a familiar franchise: Rush Hour.

The comedy-action procedural borrows some DNA from the feature film franchise—the main characters are still named Carter and Lee (played by Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan, respectively, in the films), but on TV they're played by Justin Hires and Jon Foo. The pilot showcases a few similarities between the movies and show, but it sets the characters off on their own path as they try to navigate their new partnership.

We spoke with Foo about stepping into the Rush Hour world, and the crazy-amazing stunts the show pulls off.

How familiar were you with the Rush Hour franchise before the show?
I've seen all the movies. Very familiar, especially with Jackie Chan. Chris Tucker is an incredible comedian. These are people I look up to, so it's a great opportunity.

What kind of pressure does it put on you as an actor when another actor has played the same role?
Really, I just focus on the job. I don't really think about what Jackie Chan might have done in the role…I try to create something original.

What can you share about what people can expect from the series?
It's about crime-fighting in Los Angeles, basically. It's an hour-long procedural; action-comedy. Trying to solve crimes, and doing it in really strange, weird ways. But always saving the day at the end of the show.

How is Detective Lee fitting in?
Lee is like from another planet—it's like an alien has dropped in. Everyone in the police force is slightly confused about what he's doing. But he's a great detective, because he's very focused; very disciplined from martial arts. He's a really fun character to play.

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Richard Cartwright/CBS

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What is his partnership with Carter like?
It's two different worlds colliding. Both of them want to be solo, but forced to be a team. It's a buddy-cop situation.

How does the partnership evolve over the course of the season?
It's functionally dysfunctional in that we solve the crimes. Sometimes it's a lead that Carter has found, and sometimes it's from the paperwork that Lee has been doing. They both take different angles, and each one overlaps. I think the characters grew by the end of the show, for sure.

Did you do anything special with Justin to get your chemistry right?
I had to have a lot of understanding. We brought the comedy out. I brought the comedy out in my understanding, and I think Justin brought the comedy out in his wild ambition. It created quite an interesting dynamic.

What crazy cases are in store in Season 1?
We've got stolen goods, we have drug labs at the playhouse, we have the Disney Concert Hall being hijacked, the chief of police being held. We have a lot of Los Angeles, all of Santa Monica, all of these locations. We did a homage to the Chateau with some corruptness going on beneath the shiny exterior. There's a lot of crimes to be solved.

You're also an expert in martial arts. What kind of crazy stunts have you had the chance to do this season?
Well, the best thing is when it's in a really interesting location. We did one fight scene in the Korean spa, so that had jacuzzis going off, people flying off the walls, slipping over. That was a crazy fight scene.

The one on the Disney Concert Hall, on the main stage, we were fighting with instruments. So we were swinging around instruments, smashing cellos on stage. Having a laugh, but some really cool action scenes.

Rush Hour

Neil Jacobs/CBS

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Did you have to do anything special for a stunt like fighting with instruments?
We'd take out the backs of the instruments and replace them, and use that to create the effects. A lot of the equipment was very expensive, so we did take care, quite a bit. But we smashed a lot of things during the creation of this show.

Was there anything new you had to do on the series?
A lot of the times it was new things, but the same skill sets. For one of the episodes, there was a car that's gone off into a parking garage, so Lee decides to run up a crane, and jump off on the top floor to head him off, because he does wild things like that. I never ran up a crane before, so on "action," it's just look straight ahead and run up the crane. So a lot of things were first time things, because the writers get very creative: hanging off the top of a sail boat in Marina del Ray. You just end up doing crazy things.

Now that you've completed your first season of TV, what was the biggest takeaway/lesson from the experience?
TV is all about collaboration and also about individual expression as well. It's that balance of working with and giving as well. It's a very collaborative thing. We're on set basically 14 hours a day, every day. The better a team can work together, the faster we go.

Rush Hour premieres tonight at 10/9c on CBS.