BEVERLY HILLS -- Hong Kong director Tsui Hark had his hands full on the action thriller Double Team.
This story of terrorists and counter terrorists that opened yesterday features Jean-Claude Van Damme, Mickey Rourke and basketball superstar Dennis Rodman.
When asked to comment about his stars, Hark explains:"I had one nasty one, one tame one, and one that we were never certain what he'd be like."
Before you start playing the guessing game, Hark was actually talking about the three Bengal tigers he used in the film's climax.
Still, the tiger comparison does hold up when he switches to talking about his three controversial stars.
"Jean-Claude was the most temperamental. I realized there were things going on in his personal life that were impacting on his moods," recalls Hark.
Shortly after the movie wrapped, Van Damme checked himself into drug rehabilitation.
"Jean-Claude is fast, powerful and he has a great physique but he is still too intense. He takes himself too seriously. He must make his characters more flexible and more humorous. That is Jackie Chan's secret."
In one scene shot in Nice, Van Damme was fighting Chinese stunt actor Xin Xin Xiong. Van Damme was not prepared for how realistic the Chinese actors are in their fights.
Xiong's foot connected with Van Damme's mouth, resulting in four stitches to the actor's upper lip.
"Jean Claude had to be rushed to the hospital. We were all terrified. We thought he'd be so angry he wouldn't work with Xin Xin again," admits Hark.
"Jean-Claude was back on set within a few hours eager to begin filming."
Rourke proved to be the most unpredictable of the superstars.
"You never know what Mickey is going to do or when. He's a method actor so he needs to feel the moment before he'll begin acting and he gives you what the moment creates for him," explains Hark.
Rourke had quite a surprise for everyone when it came to filming his fight scene with Van Damme.
"It was the first time Mickey took off his shirt. He'd been working out for months and he'd developed quite an incredible chest that he'd kept hidden. Of course, we had to use it. Mickey knew that and so he had already decided how the final scene should be restaged."
Rodman proved to be the set clown and peacemaker.
"Dennis began imitating Mickey preparing for his scenes. We thought Mickey would be angry, but he thought it was hilarious, so Jean-Claude began to imitate him, too. I knew the ice had been broken when these three strong personalities were laughing and joking amongst themselves."
Hark admits he was apprehensive when he learned Rodman would be making his acting debut on Double Team.
"They were giving me a basketball star for a very important role. I didn't know what I could expect from him so for the first few days I just choreographed him into some action scenes.
"He's very athletic, so he had no problems. I wasn't sure the same would be true when we threw some dialogue at him but he was a natural.
"I think Dennis is going to have a real movie career."
April 5, 1997
Sourced from jam.canoe.ca