By Belinda Goldsmith
CANNES (Reuters) - After countless broken bones and smashed teeth, Jackie Chan has given up doing his own stunts and wants more serious roles but the Kung Fu actor says he will never stop being an action star despite earlier plans to quit big action movies.
At the Cannes film festival to promote his upcoming film "Skiptrace", the Hong Kong actor said at 59 he could no longer do his own stunts as it took so long to recover from any injury.
"I am not a superhero," Chan, in a white polo-necked shirt and Chinese-style jacket, told Reuters on Friday in an interview at a beachfront restaurant on the French Riviera.
"I really want to be like an Asian Robert de Niro who can do all kinds of things - comedy, drama, heavy roles," he said, adding that he would love the chance to play a villain.
Chan, who has starred in more than 150 films in a career spanning more than 40 years, last year said he would retire from big action movies after "Chinese Zodiac 2012", released in December.
It was quite an announcement from an actor who made his name flying across the big screen in hand-to-hand combat and car chases in films like "Rush Hour" and "Police Story".
"I am not young any more ... and I don't want to break my ankle or my arm again," he said, adding that he currently needed a shoulder operation.
His next film is an action movie, "New Police Story 2013", the sixth in the franchise, that had its first public screening last month at a film festival in Beijing where Chan now lives, and will hit theatres later this year.
"Skiptrace" is an action comedy in which he joins forces with rising Chinese actress Fan Bingbing, known from "X-Men: Days of Future Past". The film is due to start shooting in September for release next year.
The story follows a Hong Kong detective who forms an unlikely partnership with an American gambler as they try to track down Hong Kong's most notorious criminal and embark on a wild journey across China.
Chan said he had wanted to write "Skiptrace", a road movie through China, for about 20 years but it was only now that the time was right to make the film as China was now more accessible and well equipped for the film industry.
But he admitted it was another action movie.
"Every action star always wants to say they (will stop) but at the end they have to do it again. Like (Sylvester) Stallone. He never stops. Like me, I will never stop," said Chan.
"But an action star's life is so short. I want to let audiences knows that I am an actor who can fight. I am not an action star who can act."
Chan was one of a crowd of Chinese actors and directors at Cannes for the world's largest film festival where the main competition of 20 films includes "Tian Zhu Ding" ("A Touch of Sin") by director Jia Zhangke. The film received mixed reviews.
A new film by Chinese filmmaker Johnnie To called "Blind Detective" will be screened at a midnight showing on May 19.
(Editing by Robin Pomeroy)