Interviews


Jean-Claude Van Damme


Occupation: Actor
Date of Birth: October 18, 1960
Place of Birth: Berchem-Sainte Agathe, Belgium
Sign: Sun in Libra, Moon in Libra
Relations: Wife (for the second time): Gladys Portugues; ex-wives: Maria Rodriguez, Cynthia Derderian, Gladys Portugues, Darcy LaPier; kids: Kristopher and Bianca (with Portugues), Nicolas (with LaPier)
Education: Dropped out of school at 16

 

JEAN-CLAUDE VAN DAMME, AKA "The Muscles From Brussels," won the European Professional Karate Association's middleweight championship as a teenager, and then took his black belt to the greener pastures of the United States, in 1981. The move wasn't immediately successful. The aspiring actor  known then as Frank Cujo  took English classes while working as a chauffeur, carpet layer, pizza deliverer, trainer, and bouncer, before being reduced to taking roles in Rue Barbare, No Retreat, No Surrender, and other low-budget fare. His martial-arts assets  highlighted by his ability to deliver a kick to an opponent's head during a leaping, 360-degree turn  and his dreamboat good looks led to starring roles in increasingly bloody and increasingly well-budgeted flicks. His violently acrobatic and realistic fight sequences in such cult faves as Bloodsport, Kickboxer, and Universal Soldier (which he rehashed in 1999, with Universal Soldier: The Return) became legendary, and Van Damme was headed for headlining roles in mainstream features.

Like his physical gifts, the actor's attitudes toward women are somewhat distinctive. He once told a reporter, "I'm a little old-fashioned when it comes to women. I like women to be there for me. I like it when they cook  you know, the smell of food in the kitchen. Women just don't cook anymore. I like rabbit stews and horse meat." Past Mrs. Van Dammes include Maria Rodriguez, Cynthia Derderian, and Hawaiian Tropic suntan lotion model Darcy LaPier; he recently remarried his third wife, Gladys Portugues.

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