Jean-Claude Van Johnson director Peter Atencio talks working with Van Damme, says the real JCVD “is a character” and “He’s everything you want him to be”

Jean-Claude Van Johnson director Peter Atencio talks working with Van Damme, says the real JCVD “is a character” and “He’s everything you want him to be”

The Muscles from Brussels made his name by standing out among the pack of action stars. His personality is equally as unique according to Atencio.

If you grew up in the 80s and 90s and watched action movies, you knew your musclemen. You had your Schwarzeneggers and Stallones. You had your Lundgrens and Van Dammes. Right out of the gate, when Jean-Claude Van Damme graced the big screen, he was magnetic. For one, he had the name people will endlessly make “DAMN!” puns with. For another, he was a likable and charming actor. And for everything, he had the muscles, the looks, and the moves. Van Damme would find his calling to be reflective later in his career. He would play a Muay Thai teacher in the Kickboxer remake, Kickboxer: Vengeance, when he was the student in the original. And he would also play meta versions of himself in projects such as JCVD and Prime Video’s Jean-Claude Van Johnson.

The director of Jean-Claude Van Johnson, Peter Atencio, recently spoke with to promote his new project, The Afterparty, which will be premiering its second season on AppleTV+. Atencio proclaimed, “Oh my Gosh, yeah. He’s a character. He’s just kind of everything you would want him to be. He really is that strange and that amazing, and he’s in  just incredible shape but also he’s just out there. There was one day in particular I’ll never forget. Doing that show for him, it was such a surreal experience because Dave was taking things from his real life and his real past and mixing it with this narrative. It was like half wish fulfillment, half brutal self-reflection. One day he came up to me on set, and he was dead serious, and he just grabbed me by the shoulders and was like, ‘Peter, be honest with me, there is no show. This is an intervention, yes?’ And I was like, ‘I hate to break it to you, Jean-Claude, but there is definitely a show that we’re making. This is not just a therapy session for you.’ But he had emotional breakthroughs on that show. It was a wild experience but he was a lot of fun to work with. He’s totally worth meeting.”

On the flip side, Atencio bluntly added, “He is completely insane and weird.” However, the director was not saying to condemn as he painted a full picture. “But also he’s the real deal. He lives a life, he gets in his Bentley convertible with like three dogs in the back and goes to Gold’s Gym every say and works out. He’s super committed, and everywhere you go with him, people come up to him and they’re like, ‘You’re my hero. You’re the reason I did this,’ or ‘You changed my life.’ And he’s incredibly gracious. Nobody loves their fans more than him. He’s really a sweet person. I think for somebody to have all that adoration and still make it through and still be a genuinely decent person, that’s pretty admirable.”

Jean-Claude Van Johnson is available to stream on Prime Video and The Afterparty is streaming its second season on AppleTV+.

Originally published at

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