Jean Claude Van Damme

Jean Claude Van Damme

American actor, screenwriter and film director


“I took his (Alex Van Damme) name, in fact, from his father because his father
sent me for the first time in Hong Kong to be a picture model. I’m not enough
tall to be a catwalk model, plus too big for that, and we became very good
friends and I took his name as an honor. Because my name, by the way, is too
complicated, it’s Van Veren Berg, so in America it sounds like “Van Varen Berg”
(said with American accent). So Van Damme it’s punchy, short, and clear.” Jean
Claude Van Damme on adopting the name ‘Van Damme’

Belgian native actor, producer, writer and director Jean Claude Van Damme, born
Jean-Claude Camille François Van Varenberg, is best known to many for his
starring roles in action movies highlighting his martial-arts abilities. An
ex-fitness club successful entrepreneur and karate champion, Van Damme was first
launched to stardom as Frank Dux in the low-budget, but blockbuster, smash hit
Bloodsport (1988). He went on to score success with such vehicles as Double
Impact (1991), Universal Soldier (1992), Nowhere to Run (1993), John Woo’s Hard
Target (1993) and was praised for his fine acting in Timecop (1994). Although
his movies have received over $650 million worldwide, giving him a place in the
action movie world with others such as Chuck Norris and Steven Seagal, Van Damme
has suffered from box office disasters with films like The Quest (1996), Double
Team (1997, won a Razzie award), Knock Off (1998), The Order (2001), Derailed
(2002) and In Hell (2003). In a more recent film, Van Damme won the best
attention of his career for his strong portrayal of Edward ‘The Torch’ Garrotte
in the sci-fi thriller Replicant (2001).

Recently starring in the Simon Fellows-directed Second in Command (2006), the
“Muscles from Brussels” is set to play roles in the forthcoming The Hard Corps
(2006), Kumite (2007) and Astérix aux jeux olympiques (2007).

Off screen, Van Damme, whose trademarks is thrilling one and all with his
360-degree ultimate leaping and super flying karate kicks, speaks English,
French, Spanish and German, and can play the piano. In 1998, he publicly stated
that he was a cocaine-addict and underwent his first treatment in late 1996. In
September the next year, Van Damme was arrested for driving under the influence,
which resulted in being placed on three years’ probation and being fined $1200,
as well as attending a 90-day anti-drunk driving program. His private life has
also shared huge notoriety with his five marriages, which included two marriages
to his present wife Gladys Portugues.

“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

Muscles from Brussels

Childhood and Family:

In Berchem-Sainte-Agathe, Brussels, Belgium, Jean-Claude Camille François Van
Varenberg, who would later be famous as Jean-Claude Van Damme (adopted the name
Van Damme from his early mentor), was born on October 18, 1960. He is the son of
a florist father named Eugene Van Varenberg and mother Eliana Van Varenberg.

A self-confessed lean, insightful child who loved classical music and painting,
Van Damme began martial arts at age 11 following his father’s suggestion and
later received his black belt in Shotokan (Japanese-style karate). In his late
teens, the muscular Van Damme, who carried the nickname “Muscles from Brussels,”
even won the European Professional Karate Association’s Middleweight
Championship. In addition to karate, he also began lifting weights as a means to
improve his shape and this led him to being crowned Mr. Belgium bodybuilder.
Dropping out of school at age 16, Van Damme, who also spent five years studying
classical ballet after martial arts, rejected offers to be a dancer for The
Paris Opera. Instead, he concentrated on karate and body-building and found huge
success as a health club entrepreneur of the California Gym in Brussels.
However, he later left the profitable business in favor of acting.

Van Damme has been married five times. He first tied the knot with Maria
Rodriguez in 1978, but they split up in 1984. A year later, he remarried, this
time with Cynthia Derderian, whom he met while the actor was working in her
father’s carpet store.
Unfortunately, the marriage only lasted for one year. Soon after the separation,
he began a new family with bodybuilder/actress Gladys Portugues, with whom he
shares two children, daughter Bianca (born in 1990) and son Kristopher (born in
1987). The couple announced their break up in 1992 after six years of marriage.
On February 3, 1994, he married his forth wife, model Darcy LaPier, but they
divorced on December 19, 1996. The couple has one son named Nicholas (born in
1995). Van Damme re-married his ex-wife, Gladys Portugues, on June 25, 1999.



Starting martial art lessons at age 11, Jean-Claude Van Damme turned
professional after earning his black belt in karate and won the European
Professional Karate Association’s middleweight championship in 1979. After
leaving school, the teen Van Damme began five-years of ballet training that led
to an invitation to join the Paris Opera. However, the prized athlete declined
the offer and decided to focus on karate and body-building. At age 18, former
Mr. Belgium started to manage his own victorious fitness center named The
California Gym in Brussels. Handsome and well-built, Van Damme had his first
screen appearance in the French film Rue Barbare, which was followed by Monaco
Forever (both released in 1984), in which he appeared as ‘Gay Karate Man.’
Though only landing bit parts, it was enough for Van Damme to realize that
acting was his true calling. Wanting to follow his heart, he discarded his
commercial fitness business to give acting a try. After spending several years
in Hong Kong to work in martial art films (where he also briefly worked as a
model), Van Damme headed for Hollywood in 1981 with the ambition of becoming a
movie star.

Just like many other struggling actors, Van Damme found difficulties securing
work during his early years in America. Knowing no languages other than Flemish
and French, he took such odds jobs as limo and taxi driver, carpet installer,
pizza delivery man and bouncer while learning English and attempting to break
into the American scene. His efforts finally flourished when the muscular actor
landed his first major role, opposite Kurt McKinney, in Corey Yuen’s No Retreat,
No Surrender (1986), playing Ivan Krushensky, the Russian rival to an American
karate student.

His career gained real momentum in 1988 when producer Menahem Golan, who was
quickly impressed by Van Damme’s martial art skills after he demonstrated his
prowess outside a Beverly Hills restaurant, recruited Van Damme to star as Frank
Dux in the action/sport-themed film Bloodsport. Produced with a low budget, the
film was a surprise hit, earning a significant $35 million. As for Van Damme,
though he failed to amaze film critics and was nominated for the Golden
Raspberry‘s “Worst New Star of the Year,” the film proved to be his Hollywood
calling card.

Van Damme’s career took off following the success of Bloodsport. Next up, he
starred in the films Black Eagle (1988), the futuristic Cyborg (1989), the
prison-set Death Warrant (1990), and made his writing debut in Kickboxer (1989)
and Lionheart (1990), where he also starred. He was further put into the
Hollywood mainstream with such noteworthy projects as Double Impact (1991, also
marked his debut as a producer), Universal Soldier (1992), Nowhere to Run (1993)
and John Woo’s Hard Target (1993). In 1994, Van Damme delivered his best work as
Max Walker in the Peter Hyams-directed Timecop, opposite Mia Sara, Ron Silve and
Bruce McGill.

He continued making a name for himself as an action hero star although most of
his films were box office bombs. After Street Fighter (1994) and Sudden Death
(1995), Van Damme made his directorial debut and starred in The Quest (1996,
opposite Roger Moore), but he had to deal with failure as the action-thriller
film was a box office disappointment. The same year, he teamed with director
Ringo Lamb to play the dual role of twins in Maximum Risk, while in the
following year, he was seen in the moderately budget action Double Team (1997)
for director Tsui Hark (failed to meet production costs once released). Things
continued to get worse as Van Damme was garnered a 1988 Razzie for Worst Screen
Couple (shared with costar and former NBA player Dennis Rodman) for his inferior
performance in the film. He then rejoined Tsui Hark for the 1998 box office flop
Knock Off before starring in the war film Legionnaire (1998) and reprising his
Luc Deveraux role for the sequel Universal Soldier: The Return (1999).

Despite his high-profile career dimming by the late ‘90s, Van Damme proved he
was back in the saddle again with his opening film in the new millennium, the
sci-fi thriller Replicant (2001). For his fine starring turn as Edward ‘The
Torch’ Garrotte, Van Damme took home the best reviews of his career. It was
followed by the direct-to-video released The Order (2001), Derailed (2002) and
In Hell (2003). In 2004, Van Damme appeared in the French production comedy film
Narco (2004) and starred with Simon Yam in the action-adventure Wake of Death
(2004). He was also seen making his TV debut in an episode of NBC’s “Las Vegas”
(2004), wherein he was cast as himself.

Most recently, the Double Team star was cast to star with Julie Cox and William
Tapley in the action/thriller Second in Command (2006), helmed by Simon Fellows,
and will soon headline the action movie The Hard Corps (2006). In 2007, he can
add Kumite (also serves as a director) and the family film Astérix aux jeux
olympiques, which will feature England football superstar David Beckham, to his
long acting resume.


Razzie: Worst Screen Couple, shared with Dennis Rodman, Double Team,
European Professional Karate Association’s Middleweight Championship,
When I was 24, I was full of life. I was that ham who wanted to be famous, a movie star, all that stuff. I think it's cool. But it was not what I was searching for, really. It was more a delusion.More Jean Claude Van Damme quotes [03/12/2018 02:03:32]
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?More Jean Claude Van Damme quotes [03/12/2018 02:03:32]
I like structure - like driving: go past the school on the street, stay on the right side, no hitting the car, go in right, you'll see a big church, stop and take a left, and you'll have it. By doing this I'm giving a structure of life, a path of light, and showing what happens between me and me, which is something very beautiful.More Jean Claude Van Damme quotes [03/12/2018 02:03:32]
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.More Jean Claude Van Damme quotes [03/12/2018 02:03:32]
In an action film you act in the action. If it's a dramatic film you act in the drama.More Jean Claude Van Damme quotes [09/14/2011 04:09:23]

Quotes of the month

Eugene Ryabyi Love is a feeling that can even turn the Snow Queen into a melting snowflake. [11/22/2020 07:11:32] More

Aleõandr Kargin Credit is the same sex - first pleasure, then payback. [11/06/2020 10:11:42] More

Eugene Ryabyi Love is boundless trust and devotion, and jealousy is constant control, phone calls and correspondence in instant messengers. [11/11/2020 10:11:59] More

Khabib Nurmagomedov I am not interested in any special names, I am interested in an opponent who will bring me closer to the title. [11/04/2020 02:11:11] More

Mihail Turovskiy When the muses are silent, the wives of the artists speak. [11/27/2020 01:11:49] More