While action icons like Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger have recently gone a bit darker in their quests for more somber and pensive roles, Jean-Claude Van Damme has taken a different (and more comedic) route. That path will culminate in this month's release of Amazon's Jean-Claude Van Johnson, in which JCVD plays a bumbling assassin version of himself. I sat down with the folks behind Van Johnson during the show's recent press junket to ask them about the decision to bring Van Damme on-board, and they explained that the Belgian action star conveys the heart and humility that makes him ideal for the show. Series creator Dave Callaham explained:
Jean-Claude Van Damme has kicked plenty of ass over the years, but the transition into the latter portion of his career has been quite distinct when compared to the other types of actors who would appear in an Expendables movie. The master of the splits has a unique ability to lampoon himself in a way that's ideally-suited for Jean-Claude Van Johnson's particular brand of storytelling, thus making him a clear choice to headline the new Amazon series.
Director Peter Atencio similarly chimed in during our discussion and explained that the heroes Jean-Claude Van Damme typically played in his films like Hard Target and Timecop were a bit more sensitive and pacifistic than his action contemporaries. That allowed them to craft Jean-Claude Van Johnson into a meta-comedy series that could also maintain a sense of heart and compassion for its buffoonish main character. Addressing this balance, Atencio said:
When you put all of that together, you're left with a wholly unique action star who can do self-deprecating comedy and raw drama better than most. Couple that with the ability to deliver swift roundhouse kicks, and you seem to get a one-of-a-kind premise like Jean-Claude Van Johnson.
Jean-Claude Van Damme will don his hilarious and deadly alter ego when Jean-Claude Van Johnson hits Amazon Prime (opens in new tab) on December 15. Elsewhere in the small screen world, you can check out our fall premiere guide and our midseason premiere guide to get more information on the shows debuting over the next few months and listen to the most recent episode of The Cord Cutter Podcast to hear what we have to say about the world of streaming content!
Originally from Connecticut, Conner grew up in San Diego and graduated from Chapman University in 2014. He now lives in Los Angeles working in and around the entertainment industry and can mostly be found binging horror movies and chugging coffee.