SALT LAKE CITY — Jackie Chan is well-known for his acrobatic fight scenes and ability to use just about anything in his path as a weapon.
But here’s some lesser-known facts about the film star: He’s been using the same bar of soap for eight months. He wears out the soles of his shoes. And he can spend a large chunk of time in a public restroom, using the excess paper towels people have thrown away to clean his surroundings.
“Sometimes my colleagues say, ‘What’s Jackie doing in the bathroom? He never comes out,'” Chan joked at a press event Thursday afternoon at the Leonardo Museum. “I just use the useless paper to clean all the things. I really want to use one paper. It’s so easy, (in) the small detail, you can save a lot of things.”
That resourcefulness is the heart of Chan’s art exhibit, “Jackie Chan: Green Hero,” which has its U.S. premiere at the Leonardo Saturday, Jan. 26. Throughout his career, Chan said he’s been astonished by the waste created and left on his film sets. So as he came across leftover materials like old camera equipment and film, he would store it in his loft. Thanks to artists he’s met over the years, Chan commissioned and now has an exhibit displaying those very materials — transformed into a series of imaginative sculptures.
One sculpture was created using light cases from movies and discarded electric bicycles to form an octopus. Another uses disposable paper cups to create a hand prototype based on Chan’s hand.
During the press event, Chan spoke as part of a panel alongside Utah environmental watchdogs Arden Pope III, a BYU professor of economics; Julie Kilgore, president of Wasatch Environmental; David Bywater, CEO of Vivint Solar; Andy Noorda, chairman and co-founder of Wholistic Research & Education Foundation; and Shane McKenna, the inventor, founder and CTO of Ascending Harvest.
Opening the panel discussion, moderator and Nobel prize winner Mario Capecchi offered his own thoughts about the environment.
“Global warming is real. It’s caused by man, and the science behind that statement cannot be disputed," Capecchi said. "… Since we caused it, we have to solve it. We have to use our ingenuity to curb this problem. We’ve already seen the devastation that has occurred — floods unprecedented, wildfires, forest fires all over the country — and this will continue and increase. And the further we wait, the more devastating the cost will be both to humans as well as the world economy. It’s a world problem. We all have to participate.”
Chan, who spoke of his impoverished upbringing, shared how he has long participated in this effort and wants to use his position as a celebrity to inspire people to be more responsible when it comes to the environment — something he displayed at the Thursday press event while working with students from Mountain View Elementary School, the No. 1 recycling school in Salt Lake School District, on an interactive art project using recycled materials.
“How do you use the things you don’t want anymore? It’s about time to show the world I've been doing this a long time,” he said, noting that his busy film schedule has made it difficult to promote his passion. “Whatever I can do I put in the movie, like (in) ‘Karate Kid,’ I tell Jaden Smith: ‘Switch, turn off, turn on. The water, turn on, turn off.' I try through my movies to teach the children, to teach the people to save the world because the world give us so much. … I know there’s so many children (who) learn from me, so (it’s) very important through my movies how I act, how I talk. I just try the best I can (to show) how we can save the world. (But) I’m Jackie; I’m not the superman.”
"Jackie Chan: Green Hero" opens to the public Jan. 26 at noon. For tickets and more information, click here.