When Jean-Claude Van Damme tried to jump the fence of his idol Sylvester Stallone’s home

Living under the illusion that all the action stars of the past were first friends is very wrong, and the story of Jean-Claude Van Damme and Sylvester Stallone proves it.

The two actors ended up in a joint film only in 2012. The tape is “The Expendables 2” (The Expendables 2) – a sequel to the film in which Sly, as a screenwriter and producer, tried to collect as many of the faces of the 80’s action as possible cinema.

Van Damme didn’t find a place in the cast until the second film, and the reason he wasn’t in the first varies depending on who you ask.

But, as the words of the Belgian martial artist make clear, even on the set of the sequel, not everything was flowers and roses between him and his older colleague.

“When I don’t like something, I just say it,” says Van Damme.

In an interview with Netflix Film Club, the Belgian said that he did not agree with a fight scene in “Invincibles 2”. The script calls for him to throw a chain at a flying helicopter, climb it, and then fight in the cabin of the machine, which will crash.

“We have three days to shoot this scene? How are you going to do it?” Van Damme asked Stallone, who also co-wrote the action. “OK, then you choreograph the damn scene,” Sly snapped.

Van Damme decided to explain his arguments in a letter that he would personally deliver to his colleague. He jokingly says it was along the lines of, “Dear Mr. Stallone, I love your movies. I’m a big fan. I believe the final fight should be man against man.” He notes that he always addresses Sly as “Mr. Stallone” on set.

The Belgian puts the letter in his back pocket and walks towards his colleague’s caravan. When he is invited in, he feels his pocket and realizes that he has lost the letter. Still, he decides to improvise.

He sits down across from Sly and starts praising him for having “big hands” and that as a youngster he imitated some of the punches that Stallone does in the ring as boxer Rocky.

“You’re like George Foreman, I’m like Muhammad Ali,” he continued with the praise and said that viewers would like to see the two action legends have a 1-on-1 on-screen battle.

According to Van Damme, this convinced Stallone, and eventually the film featured a fight between the villain Villan (a play on the word “villain” in English), played by the Belgian, and Barney Ross, the leader of the “Invincibles”, played by Sly.

Photo: Getty Images

Van Damme was invited to participate in the first “Invincibles”, but the versions of why he did not accept are different.

It takes a long time to get to that point.

In fact, Van Damme has said that when he was unknown and trying to break into Hollywood, one of his idols was Stallone, who was 14 years older.

Sly made his own big-screen breakthrough back in 1976 with the hit boxing drama Rocky, which he wrote and starred in, and then established himself as a star with the war drama Rambo (1982).

“Rocky, Rambo were my heroes,” Van Damme explains in an interview with Yahoo Entertainment.

So one day he ended up near Stallone’s home in Pacific Palisades, a neighborhood of Los Angeles. He saw Stallone’s first wife, Sasha Chak, riding by on a bicycle. A friend of his, with whom they were together, urged him to check if the actor was at home and to meet him.

The friend made a step with his hands for Jean-Claude to step on top and jump over the fence of Stallone’s home. Then Chuck saw them and immediately called the police.

“They immediately came. But I told them, ‘I’m a big fan. I just want to do karate with Stallone.’ They heard the accent, they saw in my eyes that I was innocent,” Van Damme says of how they let him go.

The next time his paths and those of his idol cross is with a woman. When asked if he would tell this story, Jean-Claude declines with a smile.

“No, there’s no need. It’s derogatory,” he says.

Years go by. Van Damme managed to break into Hollywood with the film “Blood Sport” (1988), and then accumulated a number of actions in his filmography. However, this is not how it turns out in a movie with Stallone.

At the beginning of the new century, Sly has a new idea – to bring together on the screen his colleagues who dominated the action genre in the 80s and 90s, along with some newer faces like Jason Statham. The result was the movie “The Expendables”, which started a whole series.

Van Damme is actually among the actors who were invited to star in this first film. He told Yahoo in 2019 that when he got a call from Stallone with an offer for the role, he was busy developing his own action movie and tried to convince Sly to take part in the project.

It doesn’t get any results.

S "The Invincibles" Stallone managed to bring together on one screen action legends who have never acted together.Photo: Getty Images

With The Invincibles, Stallone was able to bring together on one screen action legends who have never played together.

Even around the release of “The Invincibles”, however, other versions are heard about why Jean-Claude is not in the film. Basically, each of the two actors looks for the problem in the other.

The Belgian told Total Film in 2009 that he was offered a role in the first “Invincibles”, but Stallone only focused on money and action.

“But I asked him what the theme was going to be, what the story was going to be. He said, ‘You’re going to make a lot of money’. I don’t want to hear that, I want to hear something about my character. He couldn’t tell me what it was going to be.” , explains Van Dam at the time.

He said Stallone tried to win him over with, “You know, the fights are going to be good,” but still didn’t say what the character Van Damme would be playing. And so the martial arts master refused to participate.

To the British “Sunday Times” Stallone tells another version.

“I wanted to pit Jean Claude against Jet Li, but he (a.k.a. Van Damme) didn’t want to lose to Jet. He didn’t think it was cool. But that’s what it would be cool for: to have Jean Claude beat by the other guy. Hey, they could have a rematch,” explains Sly.

A story that is perhaps a bit exaggerated

“The Invincibles” comes out, becomes a box office hit and a sequel is inevitable. It turns out that a friend of Van Damme – a businessman who was involved in liquefied gas in Ukraine – managed to arrange things. The businessman had a meeting with the film crew, called Jean-Claude and gave the phone to Stallone.

The Belgian, as he himself said in 2019, apologized for the previous conversation and everything was fine. Sly even had a proposal.

“He asked me, ‘Do you want to be in the next one?’ and I said, ‘Yeah, but I want to play a villain, a bad boy,'” Van Damme recalled.

This leads to his appearance in “The Invincibles 2” and his first role alongside the idol of his youth, whose fence decades earlier he tried to jump in an attempt to meet him.

The actor has a lot to teach his daughters about success and relationships


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