week I sat down in Vegas with Brett Ratner as he was doing a cameo on X3 writer Zak Penn’s new improv poker comedy, The Grand. I ended up talking with Ratner for well over an hour, and the conversation is funny, fascinating and revealing. You have to talk to a guy for a long time for him to get his guard down enough to be real, and I think I got to that place with Ratner. It’s going to surprise a lot of people – I don’t know if it’ll change any minds about him, but it’ll certainly make you rethink him.

One of the topics we covered was Rush Hour 3, which starts shooting in 8 weeks and is set in France. Ratner ended up dropping some news about the casting of that film – including the fact that legendary director Roman Polanski will be in it.

“Hopefully Polanski’s going to act in Rush Hour 3, so I created a part for him,” said Ratner. “I was just having lunch with him, and I said, ‘Oh my God, you have to be in Rush Hour!’ We’re shooting in Paris, so it’s perfect.”

I asked him if it would be intimidating directing the guy who directed Nicholson in Chinatown. “He treats me as an equal, he loves my movies, he’s a fan. If I was directing Harry Knowles from Aint It Cool News I wouldn’t feel very comfortable – he would be looking at me sideways the whole time. But Polanksi gives me respect and admiration and love, so I’m fearless.”

Ratner also revealed another actor, but kept his lead French actress a secret. “I’m using Yvan Attel, who directed My Wife is an Actress, which is a fucking brilliant French movie that Spielberg has the remake rights to. He was in Munich too. I haven’t told anybody who’s in the movie yet – there’s another brilliant French actress who I can’t say yet, but I’m going after her. It’s going to be a great cast.”

Humongous basketball player Yao Ming’s involvement has been on the record – if not officially sealed – for a while now. He told me how he saw Yao Ming’s scene working. “[E]very scene in [my] movie comes from another film. I don’t want to give everything away but this dream scene I want to do is inspired by when Kareem Abdul-Jabar fought Bruce Lee [in Game of Death]. I want to have the reverse – I want Chris Tucker to fight Yao Ming. As a child I saw Bruce Lee fighting this giant, and I was like, ‘Oh my God!’”

This is just the beginning of what we talked about – come back Monday for Ratner’s theories on what happened to Superman Returns, why some people don’t like him, his relationship with Harry Knowles, his remake of The Killing of a Chinese Bookie, and much more!