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Interview: Justin Hires

On September 18, 1998, New Line Cinema released the martial arts/action-comedy film Rush Hour starring Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan. The film became an instant smash at the box office and went on to earn 250 million dollars worldwide.

The success of the first Rush Hour film led to two more films in the series and a total worldwide gross of almost 900 million dollars for the three films. Rush Hour made instant stars of Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan.

Flash forward to 2015 and CBS making the announcement that they were bringing Rush Hour to the small screen with a series order. This version of Rush Hour will star Jon Foo as Detective Lee and Justin Hires and Detective Carter. The series will premiere mid-season 2016 on CBS.

Justin Hires knows that this is a huge break for his career. Born in St. Petersburg, FL, the up and coming actor/comic has made appearances in films such as Stomp the Yard and 21 Jump Street alongside Jonah Hill & Channing Tatum. On the small screen, he’s appeared on the series Key & Peele and Trip Tank.

Today we sit down with Justin to talk about his new series Rush Hour, what it’s like to step in the role that Chris Tucker made famous and what fans can expect from the series this season.

Pop Culture Principle - Were you a fan of the Rush Hour films before you auditioned for the lead in the TV adaption?

Justin Hires - Absolutely! I grew up watching and studying those films. I’ve always been a huge fan of martial arts and comedy, so Rush Hour was the perfect combination for me.

Pop Culture Principle - What was the audition process the lead in the television series?

Justin Hires - It was a super last minute audition. Originally, I couldn’t audition because I was attached to a pilot at another network, but CBS couldn’t find a “Detective Carter” they were completely satisfied with; so they had one final audition and allowed me to come in. Fortunately, I had a great audition and two call back auditions later- I booked the role!

Pop Culture Principle - For those who aren’t familiar with the Rush Hour films, can you give us a brief synopsis of what the series is about and your character?

Justin Hires - Rush Hour is about the pairing of two unlikely police detectives- who work together to solve cases. “Carter” is the cocky, fast-talking, solve cases by any means necessary one and “Lee” is the stoic, wise, follow the rules by-the-book one. It’s the perfect odd couple and of course, action and comedy ensues.

Pop Culture Principle - With the films being so popular, do you feel any pressure as one of the leads for the show being a success?

Justin Hires - I don’t feel as much pressure as I think people believe I should feel. Chris Tucker is a comedic legend to me. I grew up watching all of his movies, his Def Comedy Jam sets, and seen him live in concert. I’m not going to be better than Chris Tucker. He originated the role and did it perfectly. All I can do is be myself and leave set everyday knowing I did my best. I honestly believe we are capturing great scenes and moments everyday on set and my hope is that I not only make the fans of Rush Hour proud, but Chris Tucker proud as well. So, yeah I feel a ton of pressure lol.

Pop Culture Principle - Obviously, there will be comparisons between your character and Chris Tucker’s Carter. What are your thoughts on that?

Justine Hires - I’m already getting comparisons based off the trailer that was recently released on CBS.com. Bottom line, there are similarities between us- We’re both Black, loud, talk fast, and from the south. Also, he’s been a great comedic influence on my acting.

Ultimately, I am a professional stand-up comedian and I do have my own comedic voice. I believe that the more people watch the show, the more they will see Justin Hires as Detective Carter and eventually the comparisons will die down a tad.

Pop Culture Principle - One of the reasons for the success of the Rush Hour films is the great chemistry between Tucker and Chang. How is the chemistry between you and Jon Foo?

Justin Hires - I think our chemistry is incredible! Foo is a genuine introvert and I’m a genuine extrovert. We’re the perfect ying and yang on and off camera.

Pop Culture Principle - Jackie Chan was known for doing all of his insane stunts and Chris Tucker did a lot of his as well. Will both you and Foo be doing a majority of your own stunts?

Justin Hires - We actually do most of our own stunts! Foo does almost all of his own stunts. I’m just proud to say I have the same stunt man as Kevin Hart. His name is Jaye Paul and he makes sure I look good on camera. You know you’re on the come up, when you have the same stunt double as Kevin Hart- and that’s also how you know I’m short as hell.

Pop Culture Principle - Do you think being a comic help prepare your for this role?

Justin Hires - Without a doubt! I’ve been doing stand-up for a strong 8 years and I’ve been the class clown my entire life- all preparing me for a role of this magnitude. You can’t properly portray this role if you’re not a legitimate comedian.

The level of comedy that’s necessary to bring the “Carter” role to life- can only be done by a stand-up comedian or improv actor. Chris Tucker set the bar so high and only a professional comedian could even come close to what he did. In my humble opinion.

Pop Culture Principle - Knowing that you are a comic, how much improvisation are you allowed or do you have to stick strictly to the script?

Justin Hires - They actually allow me to do a lot of improv. I usually do a take- as exactly scripted and then I’ll do a take when I throw in a joke I thought of. A lot of my improv made it into the pilot episode, so I think the producers feel comfortable with me adding jokes here and there when appropriate.

Pop Culture Principle - What have you enjoyed most about playing Detective Carter?

Justin Hires - I’m just glad I get to be a cool black guy on television. For many years, all the scripts I would read had the Black guy being a nerd, a computer tech, he had 0 other Black friends, etc. However, with Detective Carter- he’s cool, charismatic, but also incredibly goofy at times.

Pop Culture Principle - Do you think the Rush Hour franchise translates well to the small screen?

Justin Hires - I do. I honestly believe the audience will be pleasantly surprised when they watch this show.

Pop Culture Principle - What can fans look forward to with the first season of the series?

Justin Hires - They can look forward to a lot of action, comedy, drama, and heart. We want to give the audience a reason to root and believe in these characters and I think we are accomplishing that everyday on set.

Pop Culture Principle would like to thank Justin Hires for taking the time from his schedule to talk with us. Rush Hour will premiere mid-season 2016 on CBS. If you would like to keep up with all of Justin's latest news, projects and all his social media sites, you can get all that information on his official website here.

**Main photo courtesy of Kevin Thomas Photography**

**Rush Hour photos courtesy of Richard Cartwright/Michael Yarish/CBS**

**Rush Hour photo courtesy of Justin Stephens/Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc**

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