Shaina Feinberg is a writer and performer who lives in Brooklyn. She has contributed to This American Life and works with the comedian Dave Hill. She is a lifelong New Yorker. From time to time she writes open letters to people about the thoughts in her brain.
Dear Jackie Chan,
I hope this finds you well. I am sure you’ve seen the news on Twitter about Kim Jong Il. But if you haven’t, you might want to sit down. Kim Jong Il is dead. He died of an “apparent” heart attack on Saturday, KOREA TIME. I am sorry to have to be the one to break this to you, but now you know.
You’re probably wondering what Kim Jong Il’s death has to do with you, so let me cut to the chase. Are you still sitting down? It might be a good idea for you to stay seated while reading this letter. For health and safety reasons, that is. So, here’s the big idea: A movie, starring you as Kim Jong Il. First off, I want to make it 100% clear to you that I am fully aware that you are a Chinese man and he is–or was–of the Korean persuasion. However, I don’t think that should matter one bit when it comes to moviemaking. I mean, you’re an actor after all. And what do actors do? They act! You’ve played a cop before and a cowboy–remember that hilarious movie with you and Owen Wilson?–and I happen to know for a fact (I’ve read my fair share of the internet, Jackie) that you are not actually a cop or a cowboy in real life. So, why should it matter whether you’re Chinese or Korean. And let’s be honest here–you guys do have a passing resemblance. I wouldn’t be writing to you if I couldn’t already imagine you in those sunglasses and khaki outfits. [As a side note, I’d like to mention that I do find you to be a more attractive man than Mr. Il, not to mention more charming and obviously in much better shape.]
Now let me get real for a minute here, I am a huge fan of yours. I’ve been following your work since the first Rush Hour. I’m what you would call an early Jackie Chan adapter. I’m not one of those assholes who had to wait for you to make multiple movies with Chris Tucker in order to give you props. I saw the greatness in you right away. And, while I do count myself among one of your biggest fans, I also have a bit of tough love for you. Brace yourself because here it comes: Jackie, I think you could stand to branch out a bit. And I think, honestly, that this is a perfect opportunity for you to do just that. Playing Kim Jong Il would give you the chance to really act. It would be your Precious moment. You wouldn’t just be scampering around, jumping off of things and running up the sides of buildings (see below). I mean, of course you would still totally be doing all of that as Kim Jong Il, but there would also be some substance to this movie. There’d be moments where you’d really pull at the heartstrings–I’m imagining some kind of unrequited love between a young Kim Jong Il and a pretty foreign lady reporter he kidnapped. You know, something that will explain Kim Jong Il’s hatred of anything not North Korean, and obsession with the western media. I also totally see some scary acting moments when you, as Mr. Il, arrange for a bunch of fucked up shit to happen to innocent people. Can’t you just see it already? You, in a khaki outfit and shades, in a room full of Cold War era buttons and computer screens? Shouting out orders and then maybe stonily looking off. Obviously, we’d have to play around with it and try out a few different things.
Jackie! Admit it! You want an Oscar. Who doesn’t? And do you really think you’ll get an Oscar for all of your gymnastics? No. It’s gymnastics + serious acting that will land you that Oscar. Think about it. Just think about it. Of course, we will have to find the perfect sidekick for you. Someone unexpected would be best. So that rules out the following: Owen Wilson, the Rock, Seann William Scott and Vince Vaughn. For a moment I was thinking Bruce Willis, but on second thought I’m thinking nope. For reasons that I don’t think need to be spelled out here I am also going to nix Kim Kardashian. But I don’t want to immediately rule out Justin Bieber. You guys would look pretty darn cute next to each other. Oh boy, I’m already cracking up just thinking about the two of you being tied up, your mouths duct taped, just hopping around and trying to figure out how to get loose. HA!
In sum: Jackie, let’s just do this already!
I so totally await your positive (hope, hope) reply to my letter.
All my love,
P.S. Full disclosure: I’ve also sent this same request to Russell Crowe.