47 Facts About Van Damme


Jean-Claude Camille Francois Van Varenberg, known professionally as Jean-Claude Van Damme, is a Belgian actor, martial artist, filmmaker, and fight choreographer.

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Van Damme became a popular action film star and followed up with Cyborg, Kickboxer, Lionheart, Death Warrant, Double Impact, Universal Soldier, Nowhere to Run, Hard Target, Timecop, Street Fighter, Sudden Death, The Quest, Maximum Risk, etc.

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Van Damme was born Jean-Claude Camille Francois Van Varenberg, on 18 October 1960, in Berchem-Sainte-Agathe, Brussels, Belgium, the son of Eliana and Eugene Van Varenberg, who was an accountant and florist.

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Van Damme's father is from Brussels and bilingual, and his mother is Flemish.

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Van Damme began martial arts at the age of ten, enrolled by his father in a Shotokan karate school.

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Van Damme started lifting weights to improve his physique, which eventually led to a Mr Belgium bodybuilding title.

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At the age of 12, Van Damme joined the Centre National de Karate under the guidance of Claude Goetz in Belgium.

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Van Damme trained for four years and he earned a spot on the Belgian Karate Team; he later trained in full-contact karate and kickboxing with Dominique Valera.

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From 1976 to 1980, Van Damme compiled a record of 44 victories and 4 defeats in tournament and non-tournament semi-contact matches.

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Van Damme was a member of the Belgium Karate Team when it won the European Karate Championship on 26 December 1979 at La Coupe Francois Persoons Karate Tournament in Brussels.

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Van Damme placed second at the Challenge Coupe des Espoirs Karate Tournament.

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At the 3-day tournament, Van Damme defeated 25 opponents before losing in the finals to teammate Angelo Spataro.

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On 8 March 1980, in Brussels, Belgium, Van Damme competed against his former teammate Patrick Teugels at the Forest National Arena on the undercard of the Dan Macaruso-Dominique Valera Professional Karate Association Light-Heavyweight World Championship bout.

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Van Damme began his full-contact career in 1977, when Claude Goetz promoted the first ever full-contact karate tournament in Belgium.

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In 1980, Van Damme caught the attention of Professional Karate Magazine publisher and editor Mike Anderson and multiple European champion Geert Lemmens.

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Van Damme was set to star in No Retreat, No Surrender 2, but backed out.

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Van Damme worked for director John McTiernan for the film Predator as an early version of the titular alien, before being removed and replaced by Kevin Peter Hall.

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Van Damme did not appear in any of the film's four sequels, though he did return as a different character in the reboot series.

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In 1990 Van Damme starred in Death Warrant, the first script credit for David S Goyer.

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In 1992, Van Damme starred in one of the biggest blockbusters of the year in the sci-fi action picture Universal Soldier directed by Roland Emmerich for Carolco.

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Van Damme was considered to play Simon Phoenix in Demolition Man and was briefly considered for the role of Michael Cheritto in Heat.

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In 1993 Van Damme made a cameo in Last Action Hero, and starred in Nowhere To Run.

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Also that year, Van Damme starred in Street Fighter, written and directed by Steven E de Souza for Universal and based on the video game.

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Van Damme plays a French Canadian-born firefighter with the Pittsburgh Fire Bureau who suffered a personal crisis after he was unable to save a young girl from a house fire.

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Van Damme starred in Maximum Risk, the first American film directed by Ringo Lam, and their first collaboration.

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Van Damme plays an American working overseas in Magnitogorsk, Russia.

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That same year, Van Damme employed his dancing training in the music video for Bob Sinclar's "Kiss My Eyes".

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Van Damme returned to the mainstream with the limited theatrical release of the 2008 film JCVD, which received positive reviews.

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Van Damme then reprised his role as Luc Deveraux alongside Dolph Lundgren in the 2009 film Universal Soldier: Regeneration, directed by John Hyams.

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In 2011, Van Damme voiced Master Croc in the computer animation film Kung Fu Panda 2.

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Also that year, Van Damme starred in his own reality TV show Behind Closed Doors.

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Since 2009, Van Damme has been planning to make a comeback to fight former boxing Olympic gold-medalist Somluck Kamsing.

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Also that year, Van Damme was seen as part of Kam Sing's ring crew when Kam Sing fought against Jomhod Kiatadisak.

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Van Damme appeared in commercials for Coors Light beer, showing him on a snow-covered mountain wearing a sleeveless denim jacket, and for the washing powder Dash.

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On 21 October 2012, Van Damme was honored with a life-size statue of himself in his hometown of Brussels.

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On 13 November 2013, Volvo Trucks released an advertisement on YouTube that shows Van Damme doing the splits while perched with each of his feet on the outer rearview mirrors of one semi-trailer truck and one box truck moving backwards, which Van Damme describes in the commercial as "the most epic of splits".

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In 2022, Van Damme voiced the character Jean-Clawed in the computer animation film Minions: The Rise of Gru.

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In 2019, a Van Damme monument was mounted in the Vandam village of Qabala, Azerbaijan, due to the similarity of the village name and Van Damme's name.

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In 1997, Frank Dux, the martial artist whom Van Damme portrayed in Bloodsport, filed a lawsuit against Van Damme for $50,000 for co-writing and consultation work Dux did on the 1996 film The Quest.

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On 6 February 1998, the New York Daily News reported that Van Damme had been punched the previous night by Chuck Zito at the Scores strip club in Manhattan, New York.

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Van Damme was deeply affected by his depiction in the media and the frequent derisive use of his interviews in comedy shows in the early 2000s, becoming increasingly reluctant to grant new interviews in French.

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Van Damme later explained that he was trying to communicate bits of his hard-earned wisdom to young uneducated people dreaming of success, like he used to be himself, and had to struggle with the time constraints of TV, with his difficulties reacquainting with the French language, and with the effects of jet lag, often resulting in a clumsy, haphazard delivery.

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In January 2017, Van Damme featured in an Ultra Tune television advert which was part of a controversial series of ads.

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Two women were confronted in a car park by a gang of youths in a threatening manner, Van Damme appears to defend them and then the mood lightens and they take pictures with the star.

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In October 2020, Van Damme rescued a three-month-old chihuahua, saving her from euthanasia after a legal tussle between Norway and Bulgaria.

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Van Damme was arrested for driving under the influence in 1999.

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Van Damme has been married five times to four different women.

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