Van Damme: I love to fight!
Belgian martial artist and movie star Jean Claude Van Damme is best remembered for his work in films like Universal Soldier, Kickboxer, Hard Target and 2008's fascinating film JCVD.
He wasn't around for Sylvester Stallone's first Expendables movie, but Van Damme's aboard the all-star action hero train this time around.
Expendables 2 releases in Indian theatres on August 24, and here's what JCVD had to tell Raja Sen, over email:
The first Expendables movie seemed almost incomplete without you on board. How does this massive reunion of action movie legends feel like? Was the time on sets as glorious for all of you as we fans can only imagine?
To be honest, I kept my distance from the other stars when we were not shooting. I came across as cold and they thought that I didn't talk. I stayed in my trailer. It was necessary because when I looked at these heroes on the set, I needed to look at them like they were nothing when actually they were really my mentors. Well, it worked.
In the movie, you can actually see the hate in some of their eyes. That was the point.
You're not just a part of Expendables 2, but you're the main bad guy, a villain named, well, Villain. What do you think audiences should expect from an antagonist in a film already this explosive and larger-than-life?
I took my negative role very seriously. I play the guy who is selfish, egotistical and only there for the money.
Image: Jean Claude Van Damme
'Expendables is like The Avengers with more testosterone'
Stallone's gone on record to say the highlight of this film will be your showdown with his character. It is an eagerly anticipated action moment, to be sure. What is the dynamic between you two like? Was there any one-upmanship when shooting your big scene together?
I look at Sly and I tell myself, 'oh I don't like that piece of sht.' It's just an expression. At the end we shake hands, but... we need that distance. But I love to fight and Sly knows that. The end scene is kind of like a heavyweight championship fight that you never thought would happen.
You were spectacular in JCVD, and the film showed that you looked at your career with some irony: that you were an actor in on the joke even as you cracked skulls through your bloody filmography. What do you think of a multi-star ensemble 'event' film like The Expendables?
I think it's great. More like 'The Avengers'... but with more testosterone. I mean they (The Avengers) have some good guys there but we did all the fighting ourselves. Especially Sly, he likes to hit. And when you don't use all the cables and green screen, you can see the body and all the veins bulging out.
Image: Jean Claude Van Damme and Sylvester Stallone
Photographs: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images
'I am happy to be a part of Expendables'
There are a lot of famous faces in The Expendables. Which of them were you most thrilled about working with, and why? Was any of them an influence on you and your career?
I always wanted to make a film with one of them, and now I got an opportunity to make a film with all of them!
I was happy to be in this movie because all those guys have a background of action stardom all their lives and they all coming together like this is something unusual.
Finally, if you had the choice to bring in any action superstar -- of all-time, past or present -- alongside you in a big ensemble film like this, who would it be and what makes that person so special to you?
I will bring my twin brother from Double Impact. Because he is better, more handsome and bigger. (I am just joking)
Image: Jean Claude Van Damme in Expendables 2