Hollywood star. Asian icon. Martial artist. Those are just some of the things we know Jackie Chan as from his decades long career in the entertainment industry. But according to the mega-star during his first ever Sydney public talk - titled "Jackie Chan in Conversation" - at the Sydney Opera House last weekend, it didn't come easy for him.
Recalling his childhood days when he first moved to Australia, Jackie found the lack of people in Canberra a big contrast to how it was in Hong Kong:
"I came to Australia when I was 13. I think at that time there was only something like 13 million people in the whole country and this is a huge country, it's very little compared to Hong Kong, but there (in Hong Kong) everywhere you go you see people, people, people but in Canberra when I walk out the street at 5pm there is nobody."
Moving to Australia as a young boy was one thing, but not knowing English was another, and Jackie struggled with the language early on:
"My father used to leave me at the shopping mall daily before heading off to work. He would also give me some money to buy food. As I couldn't speak a word of English then, I had a hard time buying food with the money my father had left me.
When people spoke to me in English, I would just nod my head and walk away, because I didn't know how to answer them back. In the end, I would stay hungry for hours and by the time my father came (to pick me), I would be starving. That's when I decided that I could no longer go on (and that) I needed to learn English."
The language barrier would slowly fall down as Jackie's father enrolled him in a government school that offered English lessons, and that was the beginning of where Jackie got his first English name:
"At the school, the teacher asked me what my name was and I said Chan Kong-San, the teacher said nope your name is "Steven", I said okay."
Of course, "Steven" didn't stick and it wasn't until a few years later when Jackie got his current name:
"This man had found me a job at the construction site. The owner of the firm asked him what my name was, and since his name was Jack, my name became Jack as well. This was also the first time I learned how to use the words like cement, and shovel."
"Jack" soon replaced "Steven" but Jackie decided to add the "ie" at the end after a Feng Shui expert told him that it would bring him luck, and as history has demonstrated since, it has worked out quite well for the Hollywood star. Starting as a low-end stuntman, Jackie worked his way up the entertainment ladder and today at the young age of 62, he stresses that his success is a result of his willingness to work hard and to create movies that carry positive messages.
As for what's next for Jackie, he is currently in Sydney filming his newest movie "Bleeding Steel", which is slated to be Australia's most expensive Chinese movie to ever be produced locally, and the first film Jackie has filmed in Australia since "Mr. Nice Guy" 20 years ago.