Below is a compiled list of the most interesting facts about Jean-Claude Van Damme. Check it out!
Van Damme was born Jean-Claude Camille François Van Varenberg in Berchem-Sainte-Agathe, Brussels, Belgium, to Eliana and Eugène Van Varenberg, an accountant. “The Muscles from Brussels” started martial arts at the age of eleven. His father introduced him to martial arts when he saw his son was physically weak. At the age of 12, Van Damme began his martial arts training at Centre National De Karate (National Center of Karate) under the guidance of Master Claude Goetz in Ixelles, Belgium. Van Damme trained for 4 years and earned a spot on the Belgium Karate Team. He won the European professional karate association’s middleweight championship as a teenager, and also beat the 2nd best karate fighter in the world. His goal was to be number one but got sidetracked when he left his hometown of Brussels. In 1976 at the age of sixteen, Jean-Claude started his Martial Arts fight career.
Interesting Facts about Jean-Claude Van Damme
- Suffered from mood swings and depressions for years, causing him to seek his refuge in martial arts and drugs. Finally, after several attempts at rehab, he visited a neurologist who diagnosed him with rapid cycling bipolar disorder. With appropriate medication, he has managed to stay off drugs ever since, and he has even remarried his former wife Gladys Portugues.
- Was student of Dominique Valera.
- He is an animal rights activist.
- His very brief work on the production of Predator (1987) unexpectedly helped him to become an action star. While working as a waiter, van Damme spotted producer Menahem Golan in his restaurant, and did a roundhouse kick for him without spilling a drop from the bowl of soup he had in his hands. Golan was sufficiently fascinated to invite van Damme on an official audition. During the audition, van Damme did his trademark split while balancing on two chairs, which did not impress Golan. While he dismissed him, a friend who had come along mentioned that van Damme had just done Predator (1987) with Arnold Schwarzenegger. Golan went out to check, and as luck would have it, van Damme’s name had not yet been removed from the cast sheet. Golan decided to offer him the lead role in Bloodsport (1988) which became van Damme’s big break.
- He understands Spanish very well because he had a Spanish nanny when he was a boy. He can’t speak the language properly as he never studied it. On one occasion he had a interview in Chile and all the questions were asked in Spanish, he understood but replied in English.
- In his late teens he opened a gym called California Fitness Center.
- Refused a three-picture deal that would have earned him 12 million dollar per movie, stating that he wanted 20 million, equal to Jim Carrey’s salary at the time.
- Had auditioned & lobbied hard for the role of Batman/Bruce Wayne in Batman (1989).
- His older sister Veronique wrote a book My brother Jean-Claude.
- Van Damme was the original choice to play the title character in Predator (1987) and was part of the production until he was let go. According to Jesse Ventura’s book, Van Damme played the Predator (1987) alien until he was replaced replaced by Kevin Peter Hall.During the movie’s production, Van Damme reportedly was not happy that his face would not be shown on camera and that he would only receive an uncredited special effects role. He was also not comfortable in the original alien suit and passed out due to heat exhaustion.When Stan Winston’s new Predator design came in, Kevin Peter Hall replaced Van Damme in the title role. Supposedly, Van Damme has no regrets on backing out of the Predator project.
- One-time sparring partner of Chuck Norris during the early 80s. Norris eventually cast him in Missing in Action (1984).
- Won a court case filed against him by martial arts legend Frank Dux, who claimed he collaborated with Van Damme on his 1996 directorial debut The Quest (1996), only for Van Damme to deny him any share of the profits. His evidence was lost in an earthquake. Coincidentally, Van Damme played Dux in his debut Bloodsport (1988).
Personal Quotes by Jean-Claude Van Damme
What is a movie star? It is an illusion. It was everything I ever wanted to be, but it became a kind of shell, non? It was what made me famous and got me women. But it wasn’t real.- Jean-Claude Van Damme
Because no matter what you say in life, the truth will always be the truth. You know when someone is telling the truth, you look in the eyes. I have a tendency to believe people.- Jean-Claude Van Damme
My body looks like 30 but my face looks like 50. But I cannot walk bare-chested in the streets. I like to do these movies to challenge myself physically.- Jean-Claude Van Damme
I train, for me, very smartly. I don’t train heavy, I do a lot of isometrics.- Jean-Claude Van Damme
Life is short. I’m 47 years old. I’ve got 10 years to go where I can be the best I can be. I want those 10 years to be precious, not like before, cranking two or three movies a year. I’ve made a ton of movies in my life, but so what?- Jean-Claude Van Damme