It’s safe to say that Jean-Claude Van Damme has experienced some drama in his life because he is an action movie icon.
The 63-year-old Belgian native, known as the Muscles from Brussels, talked to The Mirror about his breakthrough in acting, his roadblocks along the way, and his path to working with an Irish whiskey company to develop Old Oak. The Hollywood star talked in-depth about everything, including his unsuccessful encounter with Jackie Chan, his hotel room training with Arnold Schwarzenegger, and his relationship with Chuck Norris. After a significant argument, JCVD also acknowledged losing it with the producer and “almost taking his head off.”
In an effort to break into the acting industry, Jean-Claude admitted he left his hometown with very little English vocabulary and began by taking us back to his late teens.
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On his father’s advice, he traveled to Milan to distribute business cards at a then-prestigious event and to show off his photo shoots to potential film producers. He described how, at the age of 17, the man first quit his gym and left. He claims that the epic black-and-white photo of him splitting two cars while holding a gun is his favorite. Such acrobatic shots were what piqued Kirk Douglas and Jackie Chan’s interest.
However, despite his initial interest and a failed trip to Hong Kong to see Chan, Jean-Claude quickly lost hope in life. As he became “lost” with “nowhere to sleep,” the excitement of arriving in the US quickly subsided. His lack of language skills made this situation even more difficult.
However, after receiving an invitation to Enter the Dragon star Bob Wall’s home, things started to change for him. Bob urged Chuck Norris to meet Jean-Claude and train with him because he had “never seen legs like this” before. Following this introduction, Chuck and Jean-Claude started their early-morning training sessions. The wannabe star traveled for two hours and spent the night in his car outside Chuck’s home.
As a result of his training, he occasionally sparred with “wackos” and other times with world champions like Joe Jackson. After Chuck starred him in the Philippines-filmed Missing in Action, his relationship with Chuck caused him to leave the film business. Years after the 1984 release of the movie, he produced Bloodsport, which is arguably his best-known work.
A shot of his bare backside, which enthralled the audience, was one of the iconic scenes that came from that movie. Directors urged him to expose more for the enraged viewers as the scene followed him around the industry. He responded, “In Bloodsport, they show my buttocks,” in response to such a request. I responded, “Okay, fine,” after the sexy shot and the subsequent shot from a different director asking if we could see your behind. The following film was identical.
Along with his enormous leg kicks, he added that this theme kept coming up in movie after movie and sort of became his signature.
With the exception of his rear end, JCVD was a big shot by 2021 and was cast as the antagonist on The Expendables 2. He still talked about his encounter with “scary” Sylvester Stallone about a scene he thought was “too much” despite his enormous reputation. He decided to try to explain this to Sly, who was also the film’s director. He admitted that he initially tried to sweeten the deal by telling him that the Rocky star was his biggest fan, demonstrating how everyone is terrified of him.
He said, “I go to his trailer.” “Sly frightened everyone. He is the emperor of the set, so he is afraid. He is skilled at commanding a guy because he has produced so many films. I visit him but am unable to locate the note I previously wrote for him. I leave because I don’t want to bother you, Mr. Stallone.
Sly quickly invited Jean-Claude inside and inquired about his needs as he frantically looked for the note. JCVD cautiously shared his thoughts on the final scene. Sly simply instructed him to choreograph the entire shot himself and return to him, much to his surprise. Jean-Claude continued to laugh as he acted out the part Sly had asked him to do before leaving: “Hey Kid, stick to the script!”
He had other encounters with the powerful; in fact, they weren’t the only ones. Jean-Claude acknowledged that this wasn’t always the case, despite the fact that his Sly meeting was somewhat successful. He once talked about how, after spotting red, he launched a “humongous papaya” at the producer who was attempting to trim the hit movie’s budget.
In reference to the contentious debate over Double Impact from 1991, JCVD explained how the producer had tried to reduce the film’s budget after losing money elsewhere. I don’t know why, but I just took this enormous papaya and threw it at him when he said, “The budget needed cutting,” rather than speaking politely. I’d likely face millions of lawsuits today. But I gave him a papaya. The papaya splat, and he dove just in time.
Oh, thank God he didn’t get hit, the speaker continued with a chuckle. However, he simply got to his feet, said “okay,” and walked out of the room. His biggest box office receipt was when he never inquired about taking money away once more.
Then Jean-Claude made a joke about how, before jibing, at least he didn’t have his brand-new whiskey bottle in hand. He is proud of the whiskey, as evidenced by the full outfit he is wearing for the conversation. Both three- and five-year whiskeys from the Old Oak brand are currently sold.
In other parts of the conversation, Jean-Claude wished to make it clear that he was not at all “ashamed” of his Friends cameo and insisted that recent chats had simply picked up on a mistake in his comments. In 1996, he made an appearance on the well-known sitcom, and recent rumors about his emotions circulated. He explained it as simple miscommunication, though, and insisted that I correct him if he misinterpreted his English-French translations during our call.
I didn’t feel embarrassed. He responded, “I was SHY with Jennifer, Aniston. Cox said, “I was SHY with Courteney.” I was SHY when they arrived to kiss me. I was ashamed, according to every magazine. With those two incredible women, how can I possibly feel ashamed?
Following the introduction of Old Oak whiskey, Jean-Claude Van Damme spoke with the Mirror.
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