Our Man In Cannes With Van Damme
17 May, 2008
Poor Simon Pegg. The UK star of Shaun Of The Dead and Hot Fuzz is in Cannes to launch his new film, and here I am asking him about martial arts movie legend Jean Claude Van Damme.
It must be pretty weird. But then Cannes is mighty strange.
In the space of a few hours I've chatted to Pegg, here to promote How To Lose Friends And Alienate People, the movie based on journalist Toby Young's best selling book.
And then I'm on to Van Damme, who is launching his comeback movie JCVD, which, as the acronym suggests, has him playing a version of himself.
Of course I'm more interested in finding out what they know about each other.
So I prepare some highly intelligent questions to dazzle them with. Seconds out, Pegg versus Van Damme, round one.
So does Simon like Van Damme? "I have consumed his work." And what's his favourite? "Probably Timecop".
Things aren't so good the other way round. Is Jean Claude a closet Pegg fan?
"No sorry." He says he can't think who it is: "Maybe if I saw the face."
Still, I won't let that get in my way of getting the two of them to square off. I try to get the two of them to hit me, so I can compare and decide who is the strongest. So who's up for a punch?
"No, I'll hurt you" offers a very thoughtful Simon, "I've got a great punch".
He offers up a light tap of my arm. I don't think that's his best shot. But not bad.
Jean Claude is the same. He merely taps my arm. Is that all the Muscles from Brussels has? It was a bit soft. "Ahh, but in two hours you will fall down," he explains, "learn from the master".
And so what about the famous high kick?
Can Pegg pull off the trademark Van Damme move? "You're joking," he says, "the man can do the splits on a work top".
Jean Claude is up for the challenge though.
Moving us off the beach to a more stable surface, he limbers up and throws a perfect high kick, his feet brushing centimetres from my face. Any closer and that would have hurt, and I might have missed the Indiana Jones premiere tomorrow.
Like I said, Cannes sure is a mighty strange place.
Jean-Claude Van Damme