Jackie Chan‘s new book, Never Grow Up, features a very personal section about a “serious mistake” he made in 1999.
That was the year that Chan had an affair with Elaine Ng, resulting in a daughter, although he was married to Joan Lin. Chan wed the Taiwanese actress in 1982.
“When the news broke about an affair I’d had that resulted in a love child, the media frenzy was like a bomb going off,” Chan said. “I wanted to phone Joan, but didn’t know what to say. I wouldn’t be able to explain this. It wasn’t a mistake I could fix by saying, ‘I’m sorry.’”
Chan, now 64, acknowledged that he “screwed up royally” and thought he and Lin would have to get a divorce. But his wife surprised him with her response when he called her from a faraway location just after the story broke. She was calm when he asked her if she’d seen the newspapers.
“You don’t need to explain,” she told him. “I don’t want you to hurt her, and I don’t want her to hurt us. If you need me or our son to show up and stand by your side, we’ll do that. I know you must be feeling awful now. Don’t worry about me, I’m fine. You go deal with this.”
He began crying and, when the call was over, he had a chat with his reflection in the mirror.
“You’re a real bastard,” Chan told himself. “All these years, you were so careful to close yourself off from her, and she’s completely open with you.”
He had a realization.
“I’d behaved abominably, and I’d let her down badly. I had to turn this around.”
Chan went home a couple of days later and called the family’s first ever meeting, during which he apologized both to his wife and his son, Jaycee, who’s now 36, for his “unforgivable mistake.”
“That short meeting was the only time the three of us talked about the subject (although I was the only one doing any talking),” he wrote. “It was never mentioned again.”
The next day, Chan wrote, he changed his will to leave everything to Lin.
“When I started to empathize with her, I came to respect her more and more. She is a strong woman, stronger than I am in so many ways.”
In April, People reported that the international star’s estranged daughter, Etta Ng, now a teenager, is homeless and living under a bridge with her wife.
“He is not my dad,” she told Britain’s The Express. “I have no feelings for him. He is my biological father but he is not in my life.”