Oct. 18, 1960 in Berchem-Sainte Agathe, Belgium

Pravo ime:
Jean-Claude Van Varenberg

"The Muscles from Brussels"

Dropped out at age 16

Omiljeno jelo:
Rabbit stew and horse meat

Mišljenje o sebi:
"I am the Fred Astaire of karate."


Had things turned out differently, audiences may have seen Jean-Claude Van Damme in a tutu instead of a black belt. In his native Belgium, Van Damme studied ballet as a youth and became interested in martial arts after turning down an opportunity to dance with the Paris Opera.
"Ballet is wonderful training for footwork and balance," Van Damme told the San Francisco Examiner. "It complements martial arts quite well." It would definitely help Van Damme, who won the European Karate Association's middleweight championship.
With movie star visions, he eventually changed his name to Frank Cujo and arrived in the United States in 1981 after an unsuccessful stint in Hong Kong.
Newly Americanized, he labored in a succession of odd jobs and acted in many low-budget martial arts films before his first big break. Van Damme was discovered by a movie executive after showing off some martial arts moves outside a Hollywood restaurant and was cast in "Bloodsport," which became a favorite of martial arts film aficiondos.
With his well-received performance in "Bloodsport" and movie star looks, Van Damme was soon courted for more roles in bigger motion pictures. He acted with Dolph Lungren in 1992's "Universal Soldier" and made a cameo in the Arnold Schwarzenegger star fest "Last Action Hero."
Underneath the stardom and Hollywood flash were troubled marriages and drug abuse. He may have been kicking butts on screen but fighting a cocaine addiction proved to be a tougher bout.
The actor described one such ordeal to Entertainment Weekly: "I was in the room, I wrote on the back of a script my problems, my complexes, my fears. I wrote with that coke, like, 80 pages. I wrote and I wrote, and I almost passed out. Then I was in the corner of the room. I was dying. I saw my body on the floor. I felt cold, I felt hot, I felt scared ."
Things have changed drastically for the action film star.
"Now, I'm OK," he told The Sacramento Bee. "I'm training a lot so I can keep in shape. Two to three hours a day. You have to."