Don Cheadle just realized his bit character in Rush Hour 2 inspired Kendrick Lamar’s new nickname.
Don Cheadle is the ultimate professional. With around 7,000 acting credits under his belt, he’s bound to forget a role or two, especially one where he wasn’t the lead. But one small character he played 16 years ago has come back to life thanks to Kendrick Lamar.
“Kung Fu Kenny” is a new nickname that Kid Kapri can be hear saying throughout Lamar’s latest album DAMN. Kendrick also dresses the part of “Kung Fu Kenny” in his video for “DNA” that features Cheadle. Kendrick was paying homage to Cheadle’s character in Rush Hour 2, where he portrays a Black man who owned a Chinese restaurant, spoke Chinese and even engaged with Jackie Chan in a fight scene.I haven’t heard it! I didn’t even know that I was the Kung Fu Kenny model. I didn’t know that until the next day. He got that from my character in
But Cheadle didn’t realize this until after the video came out and people started texting him about Kendrick’s Coachella performance. I haven’t heard it! I didn’t even know that I was the Kung Fu Kenny model. I didn’t know that until the next day. He got that from my character in
“I didn’t even know that I was the Kung Fu Kenny model,” he tells Pitchfork. “I didn’t know that until the next day. He got that from my character in Rush Hour 2. He was like, “Duh!” He texted me like, “Dude are you serious? You didn’t know that?” I totally forgot about that. I’ve been working too long, I didn’t even remember that.”
He continues, “When he hit me, before the video, he said, ‘The video, it’s gonna be here, and I’ve got a little surprise for you.’ I was like, Cool.’ So I showed up, I did the thing, then I left, and I did not put it together. Then I went to Coachella and saw him perform, and I saw the video before the thing and still didn’t figure it out. And then I went on Twitter and someone had randomly tweeted, ‘Don Cheadle is the original Kung Fu Kenny.’ I went, ‘Wait a minute, I did play a character named Kenny who did kung fu and spoke Chinese…And I texted Kendrick and was like, ‘Hey man, am I the inspiration for Kung Fu Kenny? Because I’m going to say I am whether I am or not.’ He was like, ‘Fam, that was the surprise. So, surprise!’ Oh sh*t! I feel stupid now…I wonder what he was thinking the whole two days when we were together and I hadn’t said anything about it. He was like, ‘What’s wrong with this dude? Is he senile? Does he hate it? Is he not a fan?’ It was obvious. Now, when you say it, it’s obvious.”
Check out the “DNA” video and Cheadle’s original scene below.