At first sight, Jean Claude Van Damme is hardly the muscle-flexing guy you’ve always known him to be. The Hollywood actor, who is known for action blockbusters such as Bloodsport, Double Impact, Universal Soldier, is in fact humble, humane and a self-confessed romantic.
Jean, who was in the Capital to promote former tennis player-turned-Hollywood filmmaker Ashok Amritaj’s autobiography, said, “My favourite Bollywood film is Devdas. I really love that film. I really like watching romantic films.” Jean further spoke about how actor Shah Rukh Khan met him during an awards function in Macau earlier this year. “He came up to me and we had a great time talking with each other. He said to me that if I ever want him to act in a film, he’ll be there. Of course, I understand that he is busy, but that’s what he said to me,” he shared.
The 52-year-old further added that his Bollywood knowledge is not just restricted to one film. “There are so many talented actors in the industry; I don’t know all of their names, but my favourites include Amitabh Bachchan and Salman Khan, apart from Shah Rukh Khan. I think they are all brilliant actors.”
The Double Impact star also gave an insight into his friendship with Amritraj, and his love for Indian food. “Ashok and I have been friends for a long time now. When we used to meet back in the 80s, we talked about everything but movies. We are great friends and that’s what’s most important. I told him about my family and he talked about his. At his home, I had those delicious curries and great food. I really love Indian food,” Jean said, adding that he had already finished four cups of ‘Indian tea’ in the morning.
Jean, who is fondly called ‘Muscles from Brussels’, explained how it is unusual for audiences to see action heroes well in their 50s and 60s still performing stunts. “It looks very unusual, you know. I am fit, because of all the years of training in karate and kickboxing. So to see a 50-year-old actor stronger than a 29-year-old, it’s different and very interesting!”
Meet Van Damme
Name: Jean-Claude Camille François Van Varenberg
Born: 18 October 1960
Profession: Belgian martial artist, actor and director best known for his martial arts action films
Style: Karate, Kickboxing
Years active: 1976–1982 (martial arts), 1984–present
Known for: Bloodsport (1988), Kickboxer (1989), Universal Soldier (1992), Hard Target (1993), Street Fighter (1994), Timecop (1994), Sudden Death (1995), JCVD (2008) and The Expendables 2 (2012)