Jean-Claude Van Damme was one of the top action actors of the 90s. He came onto the scene in the 80s after transitioning from the world of martial arts to the big screen in movies like No Retreat, No Surrender, and Black Eagle.
By the mid 90s, he was a huge name in Hollywood, and was cast in Street Fighter. The movie was based on the video game of the same name, and they were hoping it would be a huge hit. However, when it came time to film, the director quickly realized that working with Van Damme wasn’t going to be easy.
Steven de Souza directed the movie, and while it’s cliche and cringe-worthy, a lot of people still liked it. But de Souza has opened up about what it was really like filming with Van Damme, and it turns out it wasn’t that great.
It seems as thought there was some kind of agreement where de Souza wasn’t allowed to talk about it, but now he can.
He’s revealed that Van Damme spent the entire shoot “coked out of his mind” to the point where they had to have help brought in to watch him.
“I couldn’t talk about it at the time, but I can now: Jean-Claude was coked out of his mind. The studio had hired a wrangler to take care of him, but unfortunately the wrangler himself was a bad influence.”
His addiction to cocaine was so severe that it’s estimated that he was snorting roughly $10,000 worth of the drug per day. It caused him to miss work regularly.
“Jean-Claude was calling in sick so much I had to keep looking through the script to find something else to film; I couldn’t just sit around for hours waiting for him.”
Not only was he calling in sick, but he even left the country on a trip to Hong Kong.
“On two occasions, the producers allowed him to go to Hong Kong, and both occasions he came back late—on Mondays he just wasn’t there at all.”
He missed a lot of work, but when he was there he was often mad at the director.
“He was an interesting man, but he was extremely hard to work with – there are a lot of stories I can’t share. There was one time he was in the trailer and he was quite pissed. My assistant couldn’t get him out, I couldn’t get him out, so I had to call the producer, Chad Rosen, to get him out.
“Then he came out with a bottle of a champagne. I told him it was against health and safety to have alcohol on set. From that point on, he hated me.”
Even thought Van Damme was a huge problem on set, he wasn’t the only one who was having a hard time. The movie spent the majority of their budget on Van Damme and Raul Julia (the villain) so there wasn’t as much left to train everyone else. It also meant that the rest of the cast didn’t get the same attention.
Roshan Seth had a lot of issues understanding what was going on.
“I didn’t know the character; I didn’t know the video game; I didn’t know what the hell I was doing. I was supposed to be a mad scientist. I thought ‘What sort of science am I supposed to be doing and what am I mad about?’”
Ultimately the movie failed to woo the critics, but it still made $105 million at the box office. The chaos seemed to work for the fans, but I couldn’t imagine working on this set with all of this going on.
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