From top-notch acting to excellent Karate skills and kickboxing techniques, Jean-Claude Van Damme is one of the entertainment industry’s biggest stars. He is famous for films such as Kickboxer (1989), Nowhere to Run (1993), Street Fighter (1994), and Sudden Death (1995). Here, we discuss some kickass facts about Jean-Claude Van Damme to make your day.

1. He Is Famous for Refusing a $12 million Per Picture Deal

Timecop (1994) is one of Van Damme’s biggest films. Because of its tremendous success, the star was offered a 3 picture deal, each costing $12 million. Surprisingly, he turned the offer down, demanding $20 million as Jim Carrey was paid. Sadly, his career started plummeting from there, and the legendary actor has since admitted that “he acted like an idiot.”

2. Mortal Kombat Was to Be Based on Jean-Claude Van Damme’s Exploits

When the original Mortal Kombat video game was conceived in 1992, the developers first chose to use Van Damme’s likeness, sound, and fighting techniques. However, the actor could not commit since he had signed another deal with the Sega Genesis platform, bringing about a conflict of interest.

Eventually, the creators brought in another character, Jonny Cage, who was modeled and inspired by Van Damme.

3. Van Damme Sold His Gym in Brussels to Move to the United States

Before moving to the United States in 1980, Van Damme owned a Gym in Brussels, Belgium. The facility catered for everything, including dancing, aerobics, bodybuilding, and karate. Van Damme designed special training programs for people, making about $15,000 per month from the gym.

Although the facility had only been in place for roughly a year and had promising prospects, Van Damme sold it and moved to the United States to try his hand at acting. The actor revealed that his father wasn’t happy about the move.

4. He Once Worked As a Bouncer at a Chuck Norris’ Bar

When Van Damme arrived in the United States, he started by working as an extra in the film Breakin’ (1984). Obviously, this wasn’t enough to sustain his needs. He soon struck a friendship with Chuck Norris, another action martial arts film star, who employed him as a bouncer at his Woody’s Wharf bar. Before becoming a star, Van Damme’s other odd jobs included being a private karate instructor and a limousine driver.

5. Van Damme Once Had a Feud with His Former Bodyguard and Stuntman

Chuck Zito was Van Damme’s bodyguard and stuntman for the longest time. However, a feud between the two arose when Zito started dating Van Damme’s estranged wife, Darcy LaPier. According to sources, Van Damme had assaulted her, which didn’t please Chuck Zito.

Their feud reached a boiling point when Van Damme made disparaging remarks about Zito to a club bouncer. The news somehow got to Zito, who looked for Van Damme and struck him multiple times. Van Damme later strongly refuted the claims and even challenged Zito to a fight.

6. There Is a Van Damme Statue in Anderlecht, Belgium

To honor Van Damme’s exploits in the filmmaking industry, a statue of the actor was unveiled in Anderlecht, Belgium, in 2012. About 2,000 fans were present during the unveiling, with the then Wallonia-Brussels’ culture minister, Fadila Laanan, being the chief guest. The monument features a pose from the movie Kickboxer.

In 2019, another Van Damme statue was mounted in a village in Qabala, Azerbaijan. The actor appreciated the gesture through his Facebook account.

7. Bloodsport Was Van Damme’s Breakout Film

Bloodsport (1988) is a film directed by Newt Arnold. It is about Captain Frank Dux (played by Van Damme), a U.S. Army captain who replaces Shingo, Tanaka’s deceased son, as a fighter in the illegal martial arts tournament hosted in Hong Kong. With a budget of 1.5 million U.S. dollars, the movie did well at the box office. More importantly, it introduced the world to Jean-Claude Van Damme.

8. Van Damme Understands Spanish But Can Hardly Speak It

Growing up, Van Damme had a Spanish nanny from whom he learnt much of the language. Being a Belgian himself, Spanish didn’t come naturally to him. Given that he hasn’t been to any Spanish class, Van Damme understands the language but can barely speak it. At one time, he had an interview in Chile where all the questions were asked in Spanish. He understood them and replied in English.

9. He Was Born Jean-Claude Camille Francois Van Varenberg

Jean Claude Van Damme was born on October 18, 1960. His given name was Jean-Claude Camille Francois Van Varenberg. He adopted the stage name “Van Damme” from his friend’s father – he considered it short, clear, and punchy.

10. Van Damme Filmed the Viral “Epic Split” Commercial in One Take

Besides acting, Van Damme is famous for his “epic split” commercial involving two Volvo semi-trucks. The video went viral on YouTube, with many enthusiasts saying the legendary actor cemented his place as one of the best with it. The commercial was shot in one take.

11. He Was Once Nominated for the Worst New Star Award

Following his performances in the Bloodsport film, Van Damme was nominated for a Golden Raspberry Award for the Worst New Star category. He was beaten to it by Mac and Me’s Ronald McDonald.

12. Van Damme Once Challenged Steven Seagal to a Fight

Steven Seagal and Van Damme ruled the action film industry at the peak of their powers. They were heavyweight names known to produce blockbusters. However, the pair’s relationship wasn’t exactly great.

At one point, Seagal mentioned that he could beat Van Damme. So, when the two met at Sylvester Stallone’s house, Van Damme challenged Steven Seagal to make true of his words. According to Sylvester Stallone, Seagal avoided Van Damme, and the challenge never happened.

13. He Studied Ballet for 5 Years

From the many achievements we recognize Jean-Claude Van Damme for, it’s easy to forget that he took ballet and studied it for five years when he was 16. According to the legendary actor, ballet isn’t as easy as it may look; it is an art and one of the most challenging sports. He says anyone who can survive a ballet workout can thrive in any other sport’s exercises.

14. He Is a Body Building Champion

Although Van Damme is famous for his kickboxing abilities and martial arts, he is also a bodybuilder who once won the Mr. Belgium Bodybuilding Title. After earning a black belt in karate at 18 and a 2nd dan black belt, he focused on weight lifting to improve his physique. This set him on the path to the bodybuilding title.

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Last Update: March 6, 2024