Jean-Claude Van Damme was born on Oct 18 1960 in Sainte-Agathe Berchem in Brussels. His real name is Jean-Claude Van Varenberg. He started martial arts at the age of 11 and started with Shotokan Karate and later studied Taekwon-Do, Kickboxing, and Muay Thai.
His breakthrough movies were “Bloodsport” (1988) and “Kickboxer”. Higher budgeted movies followed like “Cyborg” (1989), “Lionheart” (1990), “Double Impact” (1991) and “Universal Soldier” (1992). He scored his big breakthrough $100 million worldwide hit with “Timecop” (1994).
He made a lot of movies with Hong Kong directors: Ringo Lam (“Maximum Risk”, John Woo (“Hard Target”), “Replicant” and “In Hell” and Tsui Hark (“Double Team” and “Knock Off”). His directing debut was “The Quest” (1996).
Jean-Claude Van Damme and his wonderful Belgian-French accent charmed his way into America using the classic double pronged approach: karate and ridiculous interviews. From his homelessness to the masterpieces he did for Coors Light and Volvo, we give you facts you didn’t know about JCVD.
1. He was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. It might come as a big surprise that our beloved Belgian has a serious mental disorder, one that is most commonly known as the bipolar disorder, originally called manic-depressive illness. He was diagnosed with the disorder in the year 1998, and was placed on sodium valproate, which Van Damme called Simple Salt.
If you have watched the show, you would easily be able to see that at times Van Damme snaps, has a massive mood swing, which was easy to see during one of his emotional speeches where he got mad at her wife for absolutely no reason. Seconds later, he apologized to her wife during the taping, showing exactly how difficult time he can have trying to control the disorder from taking him over. Like Van Damme said, he is not perfect, none of us are, and I can only hope that the medication is helping him, as he seems to be in a great place in his life currently.
2. Back in 1997, Frank Dux, who is the man Jean-Claude Van Damme portrayed in his breakout role in Bloodsport, filed a lawsuit against Van Damme for $50,000. According to Dux, he did co-writing and consultation work on Van Damme’s 1996 film The Quest that he was never paid for, and also accused the actor and martial artist of lying about his fight record. The case was dismissed, however, because Dux reportedly lost any evidence that he had in an earthquake. In 1989, Van Damme was also sued for “wilfully gouging the eye” of an extra on the set of Cyborg for a sword fight scene.
3. He studied classical ballet for 5 years. The amazing splits and spinning helicopter kicks are something we love about our favorite Belgian, who can definitely pull off some amazing moves both on-screen and off-screen. So, how on earth is he able to do all of those things? Was it simply him training a number of martial arts, or did a little something called ballet help him in his extraordinary fighting moves? The answer is yes, as at the age of 16, Jean-Claude Van Damme started taking ballet, which he studied for about five years overall. Not only does he have ballet to thank for his incredible flexibility, but he has tons of respect for the craft: “Ballet is an art, but it’s also one of the most difficult sports. If you can survive a ballet workout, you can survive a workout in any other sport”. So next time you make fun of someone doing ballet, remember that your favorite action hero would whoop your ass for talking sideways about it.