Biography of Jean-Claude Van Damme


The future actor was born in 1960 in Belgium in a prosperous family. At first he was a typical "nerd": glasses, painful thinness, and also classes in a ballet school. But at 10, his father gave Jean-Claude to the karate section.

In 1978, Van Damme won bronze at the Amateur European Bodybuilding Championships

The boy turned out to be very talented and at the age of 20 he became the champion of Europe. This was facilitated by great determination and putting all the best in training. Having married, Van Damme opened his own sports club, but he did not like the field of a businessman.

Jean-Claude Van Damme on Mass

In 1981, he moved to Hollywood. He came far from a celebrity: without stopping training in the ring, he lived in a car, worked as a bouncer, until luck finally smiled. Van Damm was given the role of the main character in the film "Do Not Retreat and Do Not Give Up." On the set, Jean-Claude hit everyone with his tricks and almost immediately got the next role in "Bloody Sport". It was 1988, and it was this year that lit his star.

Famous Van Damme Twine

Past and present

The nineties were a time of peak popularity. With him in the title role there were such films:

  • Legionary.
  • Fuse.
  • Universal Soldier.
  • Difficult target.
  • Street fighter and many others.

The actor is still in great shape, as evidenced by Instagram

Unfortunately, the actor was unlucky in his personal life, he survived several divorces. Against this background, the abuse of alcohol and drugs began. But Van Damme managed to stop in time, having undergone a course of treatment in the clinic. In the early 2000s, the popularity of militants began to decline slowly, but the actor he did not start himself and continued to be interested in the theory of martial arts, as well as classical bodybuilding. Van Damme acted as a film producer and battle scene consultant.

Van Damme with colleagues in the gym

His personal life finally bounced back. Now the actor is happily married to Gladys Portuguese. The actor is friends with famous Russians: Vladimir Putin, Ramzan Kadyrov and Fedor Emelianenko.

And to this day, the star keeps himself in shape, regularly doing in the gym. Recently, Jean-Claude Van Damme starred in the autobiographical series, as well as in the films "Lucas", "Black Waters". As a director, he is engaged in the filming of the film “Full of Love”, which is due out in 2019.

Van Damme in his youth

The Van Warenberg family was not rich: parents owned a flower shop, plus my father still worked as an accountant. Warenberg Sr. could not give much to his son, but he did what was in his power.

Van Damme in his youth

Noticing that Van Damme came too often, either with a broken nose or a black eye and was whimpering in his room, he took his son to karate school. Five years came in handy here, given to ballet in early childhood, Van Damme was plastic, already had a good stretch, which distinguished him from the rest of the newcomers. The rest did the stubbornness with which he began to play sports. The guy literally did not get out of the gym, and his efforts were noticed by an experienced coach Claude Getz, who began to deal with him individually.

There were no scientifically based training systems in European karate then, traditional Japanese methods reached enthusiasts rather at a legendary level, and therefore Monsieur Getz improvised more. Three or four times a week, Razika invited Van Damme to classes at his home with a phone call. According to the established rules
the student had to run to the coach’s house, and after the training to run back, too. A run in both directions took about three hours. During the class, the trainer ordered the student to put on protective armor and set a hefty shepherd on him. The beast was well trained and never grabbed by the face, but it could pretty well grab her hand or leg. The student was given the freedom to choose actions - he fought off the shepherd dog as much as he could.

At that glorious time in European countries, martial arts passed the category of exoticism, and many of the rules in them were very arbitrary. In particular, there was practically no division into age and weight categories. Everyone who wanted to fight with everyone, and the very young Van Damme had to compete with men in tournaments much older and harder. This tempered the will and gave him confidence. Maybe in Japan Van Damme would be lost in the crowd of applicants, but in Belgium, where there are not so many karatekas, the stubborn guy quickly turned into a noticeable athlete who was invited to the national team.

Jean-Claude Van Damme

Speaking under the national flag, Jean-Claude Warenberg became the European champion and received a black belt. So his investment in sports began to pay off. A trained body and charming appearance became his starting capital. And the only effective asset for many years to come.

Van damme

At that time, he married Maria Rodriguez, a girl from Venezuela, who was seven years older than him, but had a small fortune. With his wife’s money, he opened his own sports club, bought a good car, dressed up. But the brutal coach Goetz, whose word meant a lot to Van Damme, said that he had reached his ceiling in professional sports, and advised him to try to start a career in cinema, where charming guys with good muscles will always find use. That's just how to enter this world of cinema, the coach could not tell.

Jean-Claude with his first wife Maria Rodriguez

And Van Damme began to act himself. Having learned that in 1980 a film congress will be held in Milan, Van Damme goes to Italy, and in order to get into the environment of film bosses, he fakes a pass to the forum. Having penetrated the coveted community, the young man was handing out his business cards, trying to attract attention. In part, he succeeded - acquaintances appeared, the first proposals arrived. He starred in three low-budget films, in one of which he played the role of a gay. But the young man’s ambitions required more, and he decided to conquer Hollywood.

Having divorced his wife and sold his club, Van Damme went overseas, but there he wasn’t especially waiting for him. Crowds roamed at trained Hollywood studios, and Van Damme also had a noticeable accent: he studied English while watching the Flintstones animated series, and that’s now telling. Having worked as a waiter, a bouncer in a tavern, a sparring partner with famous fighters, he launched a well-established trick, managing to charm a certain Cynthia Derderian, whose daddy owned a construction company, where Jean-Claude worked as a parquet.

Marrying the daughter of the boss, Van Damme, at the expense of the Derderian family, completed English courses. This helped him in 1984 to receive the first Hollywood offers. For two years, he played episodic roles in the films: “Barbarian Street”, “Monaco Forever”, “Break Dance”, “Missing”. At that time, the Hong Kong film business was gaining momentum,
stamped one after another films with scenes tied mainly to the demonstration of martial arts.

In 1986, Van Damme, who took the surname Van Damme in memory of a dead karate friend, got a role in the Hong Kong producer’s film “Don't Retreat and Don't Give Up,” playing the Russian fighter Ivan Krashinsky. The film was a definite success; Van Damme was noticed by Hollywood producers. He was offered to star in the role of an alien aggressor in the action movie Predator.

Jean-Claude Van Damme and Arnold Schwarzenegger on the set of the movie "Universal Soldier"

According to the initial idea, the alien was to be deft and nimble, owning hand-to-hand fighting skills. But already during the filming it turned out that on
Against the textured Arnold Schwarzenegger, who played the savior of human civilization, Jean-Claude looked like an oversight. In addition, the hot-tempered karate fought with one of the stuntmen, and the producer considered it good to replace the Belgian with the tall African-American actor Kevin Hall.

Gladys Portuguese

After two unsuccessful marriages, in 1987, Jean-Claude married the actress and bodybuilder Gladys Portuguese. In the same year, a spouse was born a son, and soon a daughter appeared. When the baby was only three years old, her parents filed for divorce. Looking ahead, it is worth adding that in 1999, after the fourth divorce, Van Damme again played a wedding with his third wife Gladys. Now the couple quarrels often, now and then going to divorce again, but continues to live together, no matter what.

Bianca Brie (Van Warenberg)

Bianca decided to replace the unpronounceable surname with a pseudonym. The girl is 28 years old, she debuted in one film with her father. Recently, she and her brother starred in the aforementioned film " Eagle way "where Jean-Claude Van Damme not only played a major role, but also acted as a screenwriter, director and producer.

Nicholas Van Warenberg

Nicholas is the son of Jean-Claude Van Damme and his fourth wife Darcy Lapierre. Now the guy is 24 years old. He decided to live an ordinary life, far from the film industry. In 2017, Nicholas attracted the attention of journalists with problems with the law. Then in court he received a suspended sentence.

What movies with Jean-Claude Van Damme do you like? Waiting for your comments under the article!


Jean-Claude Van Damme is a Belgian bodybuilder, actor and stuntman. The creative biography of the star has about fifty roles. Numerous action movies brought him popularity. In addition, Jean-Claude owns five martial arts, and also tried his hand as a screenwriter, director, producer, editor and stage director of dozens of films.

Childhood and youth

At birth, the name of the future actor was even longer: Jean-Claude Camille Francois Van Warenberg. He was born on October 18, 1960 in one of 19 communes called Berkem-Saint-Agath, which is part of the Brussels-capital region, into a family of an accountant and a housewife. My father was engaged not only in the reduction of debit and credit, but also owned his own flower shop. Mother led the household and raised her only son. Probably, in early childhood, the mother paid attention to the child much more than the father, since little Jean-Claude grew up a pampered, frail and tearful boy, although now it is difficult to believe in it.

Tall and thin for his age, he wore glasses with thick lenses, was stooped, despite practicing classical choreography, and painful. When the boy was 10 years old, his father took Jean-Claude to the karate section to instill in his son a love of sports and show a healthy spirit of competition. He fell in love with martial arts right away. Under the guidance of trainer Claude Getz, the young man mastered not only the technical skills of karate, but also the psychological training, auto-training and tactical features of hand-to-hand combat.

Martial arts

Serious attitude to training has paid off. Jean-Claude sat on the twine, straightened his posture, gained weight: with a height of 177 cm, the weight of the young man was 85 kg. After 8 years of training, the future star of sports and cinema passed the black belt exam, and after 2 years he won the European Championship among professionals, knocking out an opponent in the 1st round. Full statistics of Van Damme's professional fights are as follows: 22 matches, 20 wins, 13 of them by knockout, and 2 technical losses.

It is interesting that Van Damme owns not only karate, but also four more martial arts: the American version of kickboxing, Thai boxing called Muay Thai, Chinese kung fu martial art and Korean martial taekwondo.

Despite the fact that in his early youth, Jean-Claude opened his own sports club called California, where he taught karate, aerobics and bodybuilding, he was irresistibly attracted to the world of cinema. Therefore, having forgotten about a promising business that brought the bodybuilder a fairly stable financial position, he takes risks.

A young man sells a gym, cunningly gets into a film festival using a fake membership card, and gets useful contacts from the world of cinema. After that, he goes to conquer the United States of America.


At first, the circumstances were against the future actor. Preliminary arrangements with actress Jacqueline Bisset turned out to be empty promises, and Van Damme had to literally make his way to the cinematic Olympus. For 4 years, the young man unsuccessfully phoned film studios, offering his candidacy for participation in the filming.

Jean-Claude Van Damme (frame from the movie "Bloody Sport)

As the actor later recalled in an interview, he looked for expensive cars in the parking lots in front of the movie studios and fastened his photos with the phone to their windows. In parallel, Van Damme earned money as a driver, a fighter in the shadow underground rings and even a bouncer in the club of Chuck Norris.

The film debut took place in 1986 in the film “Do Not Retreat and Do Not Give Up,” where the actor plays the Russian fighter Ivan Krashinsky. Then for the first time the famous pseudonym Van Damme sounded. Jean-Claude had to change the real surname Van Warenberg, as it was difficult to pronounce to English-speaking people.

The success came to the actor after the famous film "Blood Sport", which allowed the production center to recoup the costs of filming 30 times. The fans of the young performer were especially impressed by his signature kicks from the U-turn, acrobatic turntables and a soft accent, which gave the blue-eyed brunette a special charm. One of the brightest works of the Belgian of this period was the main role in the debut film of Asian director John Wu, "The Difficult Target."

Jean-Claude Van Damme (frame from the movie "The Difficult Target")

Subsequent films, such as Kickboxer, AWOL, Double Strike, Universal Soldier, Nowhere to Run, only reinforced the artist’s popularity. His fees were estimated in multi-million payments, and the name fell on a par with the names of the stars who at that time were at the zenith of fame - Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The actor’s popularity reached a peak: Van Damme became the prototype of the character of the computer game "Mortal Kombat", and guys around the world ran to record in the karate section. Despite this, the highlight of the galaxy of militants was a fragment of the film “Kickboxer”, in which Jean-Claude does not fight, but performs a dance.

It is curious that since the actor could not completely get rid of the French accent, often the characters of Van Damme have just French names and roots - Luke Devereaux, Chris Dubois, Chance Boudreau, Lyon Gauthier, Alain Lefebvre, Philip Savage, Jean Vilen.

Jean-Claude Van Damme (frame from the movie "Kickboxer")

In 1992, 1993 and 1994, Van Damme was nominated for the MTV Movie Awards in the "Most Desired Man" category.

In the mid and late 90s, the demand for Jean-Claude Van Damme declines due to the fall in popularity in martial arts based fighters. Films such as Legionnaire and Colony, where Mickey Rourke played together with the Belgian, did not bring him much success, despite good scenarios and an improved actor's play.

Van Damme owes his triumphant return to the film "J. K.V.D. ”, which was released in 2008. The play of the artist impressed the audience and critics so much that the publication of Time, the image of the Belgian, recreated on the screen, was named the second most successful after the Joker Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight. In the wake of new popularity, the actor starred in a series of sequels: "Universal Soldier - 3: Renaissance", "Universal Soldier - 4", "The Expendables-2" and other films.

Jean-Claude Van Damme (frame from the movie "Universal Soldier")

In 2012, Jean-Claude Van Damme appeared in the Russian film "Rzhevsky against Napoleon." In the Russian comedy, the Belgian got a small role, almost a cameo. Van Damme played a foreign guest. The artist is experimenting with forms, so a year later, in his asset, work appears in the Volvo advertising campaign.He was captured in the video, where he presented the "most epic twine" between two moving trucks. On YouTube, the clip has collected over 86 million views.

Then the actor returned to the usual action movie genre and played the main roles in the films Six Bullets, Close Enemies and Pound of Flesh. In 2014, Van Damme appeared in the action comedy Welcome to the Jungle. In January 2016, the martial arts cartoon “Kung Fu Panda - 3” was released, in which Van Damme voiced the master Crock.

First steps to the cinema

However, cinema attracted the guy more. He wanted to become an actor and, penniless, he went to conquer Hollywood: he just had a dream, and he aspired to it.

At first he lived in a car, worked as a courier, a bouncer in the restaurant of Chuck Norris’s wife, as a waiter, gave karate lessons, worked in a carpet factory, counted a penny, but he was ready for a lot of things. His success in himself, in his strength and, of course, luck helped him to succeed.

Before Jean-Claude starred in his first serious film, Bloody Sport, there were only episodes in such films as The Woman Between the Dog and the Wolf, Monaco Forever, Break Dance, Do Not Retreat, and To not give up". It was then that Jean-Claude Camille Francois Van Warenberg and became Jean-Claude Van Damme. The young ambitious artist helped Chuck Norris, assisted in several films.

First luck

And already in 1988 there was the first serious film in which Van Damme got the main role - "Bloody Sport". He fully fit the description of the hero: excellent command of martial arts, sat on the splits and was in excellent physical shape. He told the producer of the film the famous Menachem Golan: “I have no money and no special talent. But please give me that role. ”

It was as if he felt that this was his chance to get to the top of the Hollywood Olympus, because after a resounding success on Van Damme the roles fell: Cyborg (1989), Kickboxer (1989), Death Warrant (1990) and " Double strike ”(1991). Soon, the actor became an idol for young men around the world: they enrolled in the martial arts section to be like their hero.

In the early 1990s, work began in higher-grossing films and higher fees: “Universal Soldier” (1992), “Difficult Target” (1993), “Nowhere to Run” (1993), “Time Patrol” (1994). He was a superstar and was a serious competitor to Schwarzenegger and Stallone in action films.

But then there was a series of failures in the cinema and scandals with reporters: he broke paparazzi cameras, used drugs, fought and drove cars while intoxicated.
Jean-Claude himself admitted that these 5-6 years were very difficult for him.

In 2003, the action movie "In Hell" was released, which, according to the actor himself, became his best acting work, but this work did not have much success with the audience.

In the 2000s, the artist continues to act in the films "J. K.V. D. "," Universal Soldier "3 and 4."

In 2018, the films Kickboxer Returns were released, where he played with Christopher Lambert, Ronaldinho, Mike Tyson and Black Water, where he starred with his son Christopher Van Warenberg, Dolph Lundgren and Patrick Kilpatrick. Let's see if the actor will be able to revive his former success.

Personal life

Jean-Claude Van Damme was married five times. But finally, he found the woman of his dreams - Gladys. This is the woman of his whole life and the mother of his children: Christopher's son and daughter of Bianchi. The actor was married to Gladys twice.

“She is a real woman. Beside her, I feel like a ship sailing into a quiet, calm harbor. I feel harmony in my soul. “Gladys simply has no flaws, she does not smoke, does not drink, she will never say a bad word about anyone.”

The actor also has a son Nicholas from a previous marriage with actress Darcy LaPierre.


1979 - “A Woman Between a Dog and a Wolf”
1984 - Monaco Forever
1984 - Break Dance
1986 - Do Not Retreat or Surrender
1988 - Bloody Sport, Black Eagle
1989 - Cyborg, Kickboxer
1990 - Volunteer, Death Warrant
1991 - Double Strike
1992 - Universal Soldier
1993 - The Last Movie Hero, Nowhere to Run, Difficult Target
1994 - “Patrol of Time”, “Street Fighter”
1995 - Sudden Death
1996 - Friends, In Search of Adventure, Maximum Risk
1997 - The Colony
1998 - "The Fuse", "Legionnaire"
1999 - Universal Soldier 2: Return, Inferno
2001 - "Replicant", "Secret of the Order"
2002 - Downhill
2003 - In Hell
2004 Las Vegas, Awakening of Death, Gluck
2006 - “Second in command”, “Strong defense”, “Exam”
2007 - "To Death"
2008 - “Special Assignment”, “J. K.V. D.
2009 - Robotsyp
2010 - Universal Soldier 3: Rebirth
2011 - “Kung Fu Panda 2”, “Killer Games”, “Glorious Town”
2012 - “Rzhevsky vs. Napoleon”, “Eyes of the Dragon”, “The Expendables 2”, “Six Bullets”, “Universal Soldier 4”, “Invasion from the outside”
2013 - Close Enemies
2014 - Welcome to the Jungle, Heat
2015 - “Pound of Flesh”, “Pancake Man”
2016 - Kickboxer: Retribution, Kung Fu Panda 3
2016—2017 - “Jean-Claude Van Johnson”
2017 - “Kill them all”
2018 - Kickboxer Returns, Black Waters, Lucas


Watch the video: JEAN CLAUDE VAN DAMME BIOGRAPHY (March 2020).