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Jean-Claude Van Damme Biography

Jean-Claude Van Damme Biography


Jean-Claude Van Damme ('JCVD' aka the 'Muscles from Brussels'), actor, director, producer and screenwriter was born in Brussels, Belgium, on October 18th, 1960 under the name Jean-Claude Van Varenberg.

As a child, he was a shy skinny kid who loved drawing and music, but inspired later by the images of super heroes from comic books, he decided to change his own image when his father took him to the National Karate Centre of Belgium, owned by the famous karate and kickboxing sensei, Claude Goetz.


As a teenager, films starring Kirk Douglas, Steve McQueen and Bruce Lee were usually his favorites! Van Damme says that he got motivated after watching Enter the Dragon; and he wanted to posses the same strength and agility of Lee whom he - despite their different styles of fight forms - admires and respects his spiritual teachings and philosophical views.

In 2011 on a TV show, legendary martial artist and actor Bolo Yeung - who has worked with both Lee & Van Damme (Enter the Dragon, Bloodsport, Double Impact) - classified both actors and martial artists as the best in the business of all time. Watch video.

And because of his incredible determination, Van Damme became in a great shape and gained a great physical strength due to the non-stop training, everyday. He also took ballet classes besides martial arts & bodybuilding in order to gain superior body flexibility.

Van Damme won many karate and kickboxing championships (under the name Van Varenberg) after defeating the most fearsome names in the game, and he also won the bodybuilding title of Mr. Belgium.

Later, after these glorious victories in the world of martial arts and sports, he wanted to push his talent into a new level! That was when he decided that he wants to become an international movie star.

The 80's

First step towards his new dream was when he went to Hong Kong. Impressed by his physique and martial arts skills, movie producers gave him a role in the martial arts movie No Retreat, No Surrender.

Van Damme caught the attention of the martial arts movie fans through this role, as it was the first time they see an agile martial artist with such a muscular bodybuilder shape!

But his real birth as a movie star was when he was offered the leading role in Bloodsport.

The 90's

After the huge worldwide success of Bloodsport, he started doing movies in USA and he went from success to another with films like Lionheart, Double Impact, Universal Soldier, Nowhere to Run, Hard Target, Timecop, Maximum Risk and more...

He became then the world's highest paid martial arts actor.


The late 90's - 2000's witnessed a new type of actor who began to mix action with drama; winning the admiration of both fans and critics for movies like Legionnaire, Replicant, In Hell, Wake of Death, and Until Death.

In 2008, Van Damme thrilled the world by his performance in the movie JCVD. He earned the best critical notices of his career for the movie where he plays 'himself'.

"He deserves not a black belt, but an Oscar."
TIME Magazine

2009-2011 witnessed lots of projects for Van Damme. Highlights: He wrote, directed and stared in Soldiers (aka The Eagle Path). He was back as Luc Deveraux in Universal Solider: Regeneration; followed by Universal Solider: Day of Reckoning (in 3D). He did the voice of Master Croc in the Oscar-nominee and Annie Award Winner feature film, Kung Fu Panda 2. He starred in 2 action movies, Assassination Games and Six Bullets.


2011 was also the year which all action movie fans in the world were anxiously waiting for; where Van Damme joined the cast of The Expendables 2 along with the biggest action star names in the world, such as Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, Dolph Lundgren, Jet Li, Jason Statham and last but not least, the legendary Chuck Norris and many more!

In The Expendables 2, Van Damme plays a character named "Jean Vilain" - the lead villain in the film. This should be the fourth time Van Damme plays a villain role during his acting career, proving his ability as an actor who can change the skin of the macho man type of roles he usually plays.

In 2012 Van Damme did his first dry humor movie, Welcome to the Jungle.

Today, Jean-Claude Van Damme is an all-round actor, doing action, drama and comedy; and yet... still more surprises to come from JCVD.

While still going on with his main passion of filmmaking through the ups and downs of life, Van Damme is also paying attention to humanitarian issues & animal rights and he has a dream of spreading true peace allover the world!

Van Damme is married to fitness expert and former female bodybuilding champion, Gladys Portugues, and he is the proud father of Kristopher [1987]; Bianca [1990] and Nicolas [1995].