The Expendables 2: Jean-Claude Van Damme Talks About His Comeback!

Were you always the "Muscles from Brussels"?

I was kind of a geeky kid growing up and physically I was not well gifted. I was very skinny, but very lucky to have had good structure. I wasn’t very flexible either, so I worked hard to get to the way I am today. For me, when you are not gifted physically, then it makes you very determined. Those who are gifted can become, I believe, very lazy in their work ethic. Looking back the adversity helped me become the man that I am. Adversity helps everybody.

You're back in cinemas with The Expendables 2. How was it for you to be part of such a big film?
It was great. It helped me to rediscover, in a sense, a certain studio ambience where everything is well organised and you get time to shoot your big action scenes. Working with Sylvester is just great because he lets you know exactly what he wants from you, he is very precise. When you have that type of cast it was cool to be part of it all.

What was it like to be working some of your old action hero mates?
It was just great. I met some of those guys (Sly, Arnold, Chuck and Bruce) so long ago, it was kind of like a reunion. The last time I saw these guys was so long ago when I was, like, the baby of action stars. Now I am playing the villain in The Expendables 2 - the baby villain!

What was it like to be playing the bad guy for a change?
To be the bad guy in this film was a welcome change. It gave me the opportunity to push the envelope more, in terms of being creative and being crazier. You have the freedom to really experiment to create a great character. Such a big film allowed me to show more acting like in my film JCVD. I was trying to create a non-comical, more serious villain that can be believable. For me it was about being as real as possible. Sly liked that because he takes his work so serious.

How was it for you to be back on the big screen again?
For a while I was at the very top of the film industry, then over a few years and I found myself at the bottom working only on DVD releases. It seemed that people maybe didn’t want to see me anymore on the big screen. Regardless of this, I respect all forms of film and always will. I think that Sly has given me back my passion. Now I feel I am back and because of The Expendables 2, I was able to learn how to love film again.

What was it like to go toe-to-toe with Sylvester Stallone in this film?
Well, what people might not realise is that Sly was 99 kilos for this film, so he was pretty big. In our fight scene he was really going for it, he had a real heaviness in the punches he was throwing. I am not saying Sly was going for real shots, but he likes to make a little contact so it looks as real and natural as possible.

The Expendables 2 is in cinemas on 16 August!

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