Jean-Claude Van Damme Interview: Part 1
Première: June 1999, no. 267. (French
Interview by Jean-Yves
His last film, "Legionnaire",
did not have a great deal of depth to it, and at 38 years, JCVD does
not have any of the reservations or decencies which makes the
majority of us "civilized" beings. One can choose to make fun about
it. One can also choose not to. And if he sometimes happens to mix
French, English and some brushes, it digs furrows which are not so
often plowed... To such a degree we have made three episodes of them
for our readers.
What is your worst physical pain?
Well, a physical pain is not so
much a pain. It's a pain you forget. I believe that mental pains are
much harder; and if you include spiritual pain... there's none.
Therefore, there is the physical pain (primary), the mental pain
(which we remember, the memories of life): and then there is the
spirit, which has no pain, since the final conclusion of the spirit
Very well. Van Damme, is that your real name?
No. It is Jean-Claude Van Varenberg.
And your second first names?
François. And Camille. It's a
beautiful first name Camille, it's old fashioned, isn't it? It
sounds like a piece of furniture from Provence.
That's true. Other than Van Damme, any other nickname you dream of?
Well, dreams have no relevance
on words... or on names. For me, dreams - and for everyone, even if
people don't know it (and even if they don't know, they know) - a
dream is a feeling, a real feeling that occurs if you want it
Your last dream became a reality?
I don't want to get into
dimensional things, but: I dreamed of being an actor, I became an
actor... And it's great! Mankind's greatest dream is the dream of
creation. We are in life to recreate better than
Do you have an official religion?
[Nicely ironic] What a
beautiful question! There, we see that we have a lot of work to do
on ourselves! An official religion... [He stops then speaks up] IS
THERE A LAW FOR LOVE?
That shows how much we still
have to learn about life! The most beautiful religion one can have,
is to return within ourselves, and to absorb the essence of life, to
absorb ourselves, and to then produce from your own religion:
instinct. And the culmination of instinct, is love! It is important
to learn how to love. To first love ourselves to be able to love
How would you be defined in two words?
To define what?
You, your personality...
In two words... "I am"
Not bad. How much do you have on you?
How much money? Nothing for
now, I am wearing shorts and running shoes. It's the morning. [It is
9 am in L.A.]
What do you do when you're alone in an elevator?
Alone with people, or all alone? Because we're always...
Physically, then, as spiritually, we're all together, right?
Because in an elevator... when
you go up in a elevator... you think. About a lot of things; about
creations, people, souvenirs... So we're never alone spiritually!
But physically, "in the envelope", if I am alone... well... I am
there. And I stay there. Until the doors open... And I start to
walk. I move my envelope. Towards the everyday mission...
What do you have nostalgia about?
I have nostalgia about
childhood. I find that childhood is very, very beautiful. And the
way we raise a child - whether they are male or female - we can
delay his or her process of creation, which I call his or her "good
side". Because we give children many rules; there are good rules but
there are some that are a little... - we'll get back to the word -
"official". And those official rules can really delay what should
become... But it's not that bad, he or she will just have to fight
harder! Not only against himself, against life, but also against
life's official rules, religions and all that... But to get back to
the question and to nostalgia, I had a very beautiful childhood
despite all that... I was raised in the countryside, outside of
Brussels. And I always grew up amongst dogs.
I played a lot with dogs. I
always liked the contact of animals. Why? Because there was a lot of
feelings... Animals don't talk a lot. They "speak" with feeling, but
they don't have a language for our fears. On the other hand, there
is a lot of touching and eye contact, the really sincere things; and
that really helped me grow with animals around me. I have a dog next
to me right now and I stroke it.
What is he called?
Do you have a role model?
Yes! Myself! I am my own role
model because I know my errors, my qualities, my victories and my
defeats. If I spent my time taking another person as a role model,
how do you know that this person can model you along the right
lines? Okay: children (or parents, or whatever), when they see me on
the screen, they can copy! So the best model you can have in life is
yourself! And that is one very, very large work. But a very
beautiful one! We call it "creation anew", "re-creation". Physical
and mental. It is very, very beautiful to have your own self.
Jean-Claude Van Damme Interview: Part 2
Première: July 1999, no. 268.
For what would you fight?
Aaah! Of course. I have a
really big mission! But I do not want to make any mistake explaning
it. Wait... Well, I would fight for a thing which is very, very
significant in the world... in the universe... And it is very
simple! It's the truth! Because even if we lie to ourselves - if we
brag like you say in France, we come to the screen, and we put on
make-up, and the hair, the suit, etc. That's all good, we have a
nice image. "Oh he's so beautiful! He even smells like a
Truthfully, between what I say and what I do,
there are always underlying thoughts, good or bad thoughts. But the
truth? You cannot escape from it! For ourselves. And there, I really
tried with all my heart to give the best answer I could!
Incidentally, is there a truth you would
like to restore about yourself?
No! [very rapidly] Because in
truth, the truth, does not have a truth! Ha! Gotta get
The cycle... The cycle of
cosmos in life... it is a big wheel. Which is comprised of things,
moments, and feelings... and the truth; is that we must find our own
truth. My own truth? How do you want me to tell you like that? If
you would have spoken to me five years ago, or three years ago, or
six months ago! Or yesterday... or tomorrow... If you would have
spoken to me like that then, I could not have answered you like
this. And thanks to my own truth (of which I do not yet have the
answer), I can speak to you in a more sophisticated way. One year
ago, I would have spoken to you about my muscles. Of how much I eat
in the morning, how beautiful I am, and how strong I am, that I am
the best... But in truth, there is no best! In truth, there is for
each their own.
What has happened during this last year?
A lot of things! We call it
"the cycle of life". But wait! There are two kinds of lives... I
hope that's not too strong, but what I'm about to say is is very
deep: there are two lives. The first one is ours: between you and
me, the telephone, the conversation, Première magazine, the movie
"Legionnaire" - which is very beautiful, I respect it, but that's a
reality we created, we live in a reality that we created and that I
call "illusion".And then,
there is death; and death does not exist. Death is the second
dimension; the true dimension of life, it is the universe! And
that's where we return, either in the same envelope, or in something
other in which we want to come back and [calms down suddenly]... we
progress. Progress on the truth. And I know that even if you don't
understand what I say, you understand it.
You see what I mean? There is a
There is a kind of "I see what
he means, I am there, but..." Because we seek! I seek, you seek! And
when you're done talking with me, when you put down the phone - and
I'm not trying to end it here - you will say to yourself: "I would
never have thought that the karate guy could speak like that." Why?
That's a miracle of life: we're all sensitive, we're all capable to
give warmth, one another, because of the truth. And a lot of this
has to do with love! Because we're all looking for love and
friendship. Love, friendship, that's a great thing. There are no
borders. Right now, I'm working on a huge script with... That will
take me, I don't know, one, two, three, four, five years, six
And I work on a guy who... But
I don't want to talk about that now... I still have many things to
do. But it's going to be great.
Without going into details, are you
writing this script yourself?
Yes, yes. I MUST write it
myself because I'm discovering myself in it! It's
Do you have a devise?
What's a devise? Sorry, I'm a
little illiterate for that.
A motto, a phrase that you'd like on your tomb...
Not at all. Besides, I am
eternal! Ha! As I told you: we all come back! So, to write on my
tomb... It's okay! Because I can return to visit with another body,
another envelope, or myself, pff... It's okay! To write on a tomb or
to leave memories, that shows that human beings can be... sad. And
sadness; that's a quality! If we lose someone close to us, we cry!
We show them that we really had feelings for him or her, which is
okay! But in truth, he or she is always there! Because if my father
dies, and if your father died, or if he did not die yet - let God
protect him! - or if people close to you died: every time you think
of them, they're there! In your heart. So if you really want to
remember... your parrot, your dog, your chick.... [he gets excited]
even a car [he calms down], it is there. You can remember
everything. When you want, where you want. Then, my motto is always:
"recreate ourselves." We need to recreate ourselves... to
recreate... a better you. And that's very hard! And, and, and,
and... it's very easy at the same time.
What made you laugh recently?
[He laughs, then becomes
serious] What made me laugh recently is myself! How I have taken
life so seriously! When we become irritated and we yell, it's
ridiculous! But I believe it's all good, it's a good laugh! It's a
laughter of health, a laughter of progression.
Jean-Claude Van Damme Interview: Part 3
Première: August 1999, no. 269.
Now, I have two very concrete questions, it's...
Very concrete! [He laughs
frankly] You're a cool dude! By the way, there's nothing concrete.
You know why they're concrete? I'll tell you why they're concrete
even before you tell me your questions! Because we created a reality
and, in our reality, we invented time: the 24 hours, the 365 days
Which is good! That way, we
know that when I go across my living room and I walk from my chimney
to the window, it will take ten seconds. But in truth, for a bird,
it will take a second! And for oxygen, it takes zero
So we create a time for
ourselves, which is good! That way, we know what goes on. We create
concrete things to protect ourselves. A house is concrete, the
bricks are concrete. If I'm married to this woman for life, I'll
have a concrete life. If my friend tells me he'll never betray me,
it's a concrete friendship. But in truth, what right... do we have
to put ourselves in another envelope, and make it obey laws that we
would like to be the way we want? You see? But in truth, the
concrete things, yes, they're concrete if we believe them to be
concrete! Go ahead, ask me the question!
What do you always have in your refrigerator?
Ha, ha, ha! That's concrete for
my stomach! I always have non-fat milk; very, very cold milk, frozen
because when I'm hungry, I like to eat cereals. What else do I
have... Lots of things... Oh yeah: I always have ground meat, but
Turkey, because I like to cook
it with onions at night; I cook it with tomatoes, onions, garlic and
that gives good bologna pasta.
Yeah! That sounds good!
So you want something from my
refrigerator that's concrete and not concrete at the same
Water. Water, that's something
concrete but not concrete. [On a melodious tone] Because water...
can nourish me, but water... can also carry me. Because water... has
magic laws. Water can hold cargo ships in the sea, thousands of tons
of steel... Water has many dimensions.
What car do you have?
Mercedes. And why? I'll tell
you... First, I like solid cars; second, it's very beautiful, and
third, it never dies on me. That, you're right, it's concrete; I
take it to the garage every six months.
What would you like to be said about you?
Listen well... [A little
hesitant] I can't put myself in others and force them to say what I
would like them to say! What I would like people to say about me...
That's a very very good question... It's the best! It's very simple
but very complicated. And in truth... it's simple if it's simple...
That's the secret! Listen, listen to your question! It's one of most
important to find out what an actor wants. There are many actors -
and I'm getting to the answer - ninety percent of them are actors
because they have an insecurity or self-love problem. I was in there
too. And I tell you honestly, you know what?
[Calm and focus] I really don't
give a fuck what people say about me anymore... BUT NOT what people
think of me... Because to "say" something is very easy. Good, OK,
this question is great, I'll take a little to answer it, if I'm
boring you, go ahead and tell me.
Not at all.
OK. [Very quickly] Between
saying and thinking... OK, here's what happens. [Calming down] You
have a wife, children, and you know that you have a right to be with
her because... she was faithful to you in the best and worst moments
of your life, OK?
You walk in the street, and a
woman comes out, another woman. Who's great, who's beautiful, who's
great. And you want, you WANT to tell to the whole world, including
yourself. "She's so beautiful! I feel something very very beautiful
with her!"... [Silence, then sorry] But you can't say it. If you say
it, it'll raise hell in your household. So, between what we say and
what we think, there's a great difference. So, what I would like is
for people to think about what they're gonna say. I don't want them
to say things about me. Between thinking and saying, there's a world
of difference. And they are very near. [He hums] A person is called
"God", and the other is called "human being". And we're are both
equal at the same level... but "God" would like us to THINK the
truth about us and not what we say... You know what I mean? It's a
paradigm... Well, I've never done an interview like this! I don't
I hope it wasn't unpleasant?
It was great! You felt a
sincerity in me - I feel it, you can tell me what you want - I felt
that there was a very very beautiful connection and that you are a
great guy! It was a moment. There was no time during the interview,
I don't know how long it lasted, but there was a moment between us
and to put it to paper... it's excellent!! You know why? We will
help a lot of people, OK?