Jean-Claude Van Damme might not be as famous as some other action film actors, like Arnold Schwarzenegger or Chuck Norris. Still, this martial artist from Belgium has starred in dozens of films, using his amazing flexibility and strength to show off in fight scenes. As of today, he has acted in a total of 64 films, and he’s even directed and written a few films and TV episodes of his own! This famous actor has garnered a cult following over the years, but even the most die-hard Jean-Claude Van Damme fans aren’t aware of everything he’s done.
In today’s video, we’re going to take a look at nine of the shocking things that Jean-Claude Van Damme has done throughout his journey to becoming a famous film star. Make sure you stick around until the very end, where we’ll reveal the violent method he used to earn his first lead role! And don’t forget to like this video and subscribe to Facts Verse for more.
When asked about your favorite action movie actor you might not immediately think about Jean-Claude Van Damme. After all it’s hard to compete against 1980s actors like Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger. But Jean-Claude Van Damme is still an amazing actor who starred in countless action films. He was born in Brussels, Belgium in 1960 and his talent in a variety of martial arts eventually earned him the clever name “the muscles from brussels”. He’s acted in 64 films so far but the actor is showing no signs of slowing down. He still plans on acting in more films in the future. After his first starring role in the 1988 film Bloodsport, Jean-Claude Van Damme only increased in popularity and he’s well known around the world today. However this actor and martial artist has done several surprising things in his past nine of which we’re going to cover today. Make sure you stick around until the very end of the video where we’ll reveal the violent method Jean-Claude Van Damme used to earn his big break as an actor. Facts Verse presents Jean-Claude Van Damme got his start by kicking a producer. Before we get started click the like button if you’re a fan of Jean-Claude Van Damme and to see more videos like this make sure you subscribe to the channel and click the notification bell.
1. His Skill Isn’t Just From Martial Arts
Jean-Claude Van Damme’s martial art history is impressive. He’s excelled in four different kinds of martial arts including karate, kickboxing, muay thai and taekwondo. However if you’ve ever watched a Jean-Claude Van Damme film you’ll notice there’s a certain amount of grace involved with all his movements. When Jean-Claude Van Damme was young he didn’t look anything like the muscled, handsome man in the 80s action films. In fact the actor described himself as a nerd when he was young. As a result his father encouraged him to take karate lessons when he was just 10 years old. But that wasn’t all he started to learn. For five years Van Damme also took ballet lessons which he started when he was 16. Most people don’t realize just how intense ballet is. It’s a highly competitive form of dance that requires immense amounts of skill, grace and strength. In a 1993 interview with the chicago tribune, Jean-Claude said I was always attracted to ballet because of the dexterity, the stretching, the grace and the fact that you’re able to control without showing any pain on your face. I mixed the grace and the movement with the power of karate. It’s been a big help in my movies sadly many ballet dancers are scorned for their art form because it isn’t considered as skillful as contact sports like football. The truth is however ballet is just as difficult if not more so than many of the popular sports today. Jean-Claude Van Damme explained it helped him get to where he is today.
2. Jean-Claude Van Damme Wasn’t His Original Name
Many famous people have changed their names before entering a life of fame. Marilyn Monroe for example was born Norma Jean Mortensen. A lot of aspiring actors and singers feel their names aren’t snappy enough to look good on a movie marquee and as a result they end up legally changing it. Jean-Claude Van Damme was born with the name Jean-Claude Camille Van Varenberg. However he thought it was a bit of a mouthful and he was probably right. At first he acted under the stage name Frank Cujo, but for some reason it just didn’t seem to cut it. Eventually he decided that the name Jean-Claude Van Damme suited him best. It was punchy but still retained some of the elegance of his birth name.
3. He Used To Bounce For Chuck Norris
For a time Jean-Claude Van Damme found success through a gym he owned in Brussels. He also worked on bodybuilding and modeled occasionally. Even more surprising he also took after his florist father and made money selling flowers at restaurants. After making money through his flowers Jean-Claude Van Damme was able to open up his gym by securing a loan from there he was able to slowly save up money until he had enough to move to the United States. After all despite his success as a model, bodybuilder and gym owner he aspired to be an actor. From a young age Van Damme simply couldn’t chase the dream out of his head. When he was 22 years old he moved to America with his close friend Michael Keasey. Both young men wanted to become actors together and they moved to Hollywood to pursue their dream careers. Jean-Claude was able to find a few small roles and his first film in America was in 1984 entitled Monaco Forever. After spending some time around Hollywood, Jean-Claude ended up making friends with the famous Chuck Norris. The actor respected his physical abilities enough to hire him as a bouncer. At his bar Woody’s Wharf, Van Damme worked well as a bouncer, but he admitted in a 2019 interview he was happy he never had to fight anyone. If you were surprised to learn that jJean-Claude Van Damme was friends with Chuck Norris before he became a famous actor himself, click the like button.
4. One Of His Performances Was Rated Best By Time Magazine In 2008
Nobody doubts Jean-Claude Van Damme’s physical acting skills. He’s renowned for his excellent record in kickboxing and he’s also amazing at karate, taekwondo and muay thai. However many action film stars are more sought after for their physical skills rather than their acting skills. After all most people watch a jean-claude van damme film to watch some wicked fight scenes and a few explosions. You don’t usually tune into an action film for impressive acting. Because of this Jean-Claude isn’t usually compared to amazing actors like Samuel L Jackson or Meryl Streep in 2008. However Van Damme played himself in the film jcvd. While the film still contains many action elements it’s quite different from van damme’s usual style. The film is more emotionally impactful and it covers his struggle with self-worth. Van Damme’s performance was so raw and captivating that time magazine referred to it as one of the best performances of the year. In one part of the film Jean-Claude shows off his chops in a six-minute monologue where he bares his soul to the viewers. After a performance like that it’s unlikely anyone will doubt his skills as an actor anytime soon.
5. He Once Aimed A Papaya At A Producer’s Head
After his first starring role in the 1988 film Bloodsport, Jean-claude was suddenly swarmed with roles. He appeared in films three successive years after. In 1989 he starred in Kickboxer, in 1990 he acted in Lionheart and finally in 1991 he starred in Double Impact where he played a pair of twins. In Double Impact however Van Damme revealed the production didn’t go quite as smoothly as his past films. Partway through the filming process Van Damme learned his agent was deep in discussion with the producers of the film and he was trying to convince them that actor Dolph Lundgren would be a better choice as the starring role. This was enough to upset Van Damme considerably, but the final straw came later. One day Van Damme learned that a producer was trying to drain the funds of Double Impact so he could redirect them to a different film. Stone Cold was another action film that starred the NFL player Brian Bosworth and it was being produced at the same time. Van Damme however would not stand for anyone diverting funds from his film and he became extremely upset when he learned what was happening. He picked up a nearby papaya and threw it at the offending producer. Van Damme later recounted he was grateful the producer ducked and the papaya instead hit the wall behind him.
6. He Tried To Challenge Steven Segal To A Fight
In 1997 famous action film actor Sylvester Stallone threw a party at his house in Miami. Stallone invited Jean-Claude as well as another action film actor Steven Seagal. During the party Van Damme brought up an old wound. Apparently Steven Seagal had once boasted he would be able to beat Van Damme in a fight while Van Damme is known for his prowess in the martial arts, he might have forgotten that Steven Segal was good enough at karate to open up a dojo in Japan. Still Van Damme’s pride was hurt at the comment and he challenged Segal to a fight in Sylvester Stallone’s backyard. While Van Damme waited for Segal to follow up on his claim, the actor avoided any conflict and there was no fight. Van Damme was still hungry for blood however and he managed to find Steven Seagal at a nightclub at a later date. The moment Segal saw him, he left as quickly as possible. We may never know how the fight would have turned out but it seems Segal was having second thoughts about his earlier claim.
7. He’s Well Aware His Film Titles Can Get Old
A running joke about Jean-Claude Van Damme films is that most of the titles include some variant of the word dead. This may not be particularly surprising, considering how action-packed all his films are. Still the titles can get a little repetitive after a while. Even for the most die-hard of Van Damme fans. Thankfully Van Damme himself is in on the joke in a 2017 interview. He laughed about how generic his film titles can get and he began to list off film titles that had the word death or dead in them. Don’t believe us here are just a few of the films Jean-Claude Van Damme has acted in that contain some variant of the word dead- Death Warrant, Sudden Death, Wake of Death, Until Death and We Die Young. Even if Van Damme is acting in a film whose title doesn’t contain the word dead, the theme is usually in the same vein. Most of the film titles are gruesome or violent, such as Kill em all, Six Bullets and In Hell. If you see any Jean-Claude Van Damme film the title will let you know right away what genre it is.
8. There Are Two Statues Created In His Honor
Jean-Claude Van Damme has been an inspiration for inspiring actors and martial artists for many years. And his work in film is renowned throughout the world. He’s beloved by millions of fans and to show him just how much they appreciate his work they built not just one but two statues in his honor. The first statue was unveiled in 2012 in his home city of Brussels. It was built in the front of the Westland shopping center Van Damme attended the unveiling with both his mother and father at his side. If you look at any picture of the actor beside the statue you can tell it means a lot to him. The second statue built for van damme is located in Azerbaijan. It was built in a small village called Van Damme and the statue was mostly built to recognize the name similarity between the village and the famous actor. This statue built by Azad Aliyev depicts Van Damme posing in his iconic splits between two tree stumps. Van Damme was thrilled by the artist’s hard work which has resulted in him being immortalized in bronze.
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