Jean-Claude Van Damme Was Allegedly ‘Coked Out of His Mind’ on the Set of ‘Street Fighter’
For my 14th birthday, my parents took me and a couple friends to the movie theater for the film of my choice. Options based on what was playing in theaters at the time included Dumb and Dumber, the Wesley Snipes vehicle Drop Zone, and the live-action adaptation of Richie Rich. I chose none of them. Instead, I went with Street Fighter, the movie version of the extremely popular video game series about a fighting tournament, starring Jean-Claude Van Damme as one of the tournament’s fighters, Guile. I was a big Street Fighter II fan, and I liked JCVD too. It was the only reasonable choice.
It was also a horrible film, something that was obvious way back then, even to my feeble and easy-to-please 14-year-old mind. Now The Guardian has a lengthy profile about the film and its troubled production that sheds some light on why it turned out the way it did. One big reason, according to director Steven de Souza: Van Damme was “coked out of his mind.”
Here’s his full quote about JCVD’s taste for sweet sweet nose candy:
“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. 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. 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.
Among the other issues de Souza mentions: Spending a hefty portion of the budget on Van Damme and co-star Raul Julia meant very little money left over for the rest of the cast, or to train them properly in martial arts before filming Street Fighter’s action scenes. And Capcom demanded de Souza shoehorn as many Street Fighter fighters as possible, even at the expense of a coherent, logical story.
The full Guardian story is worth a read for these and many other stories. But always remember the next time you watch Street Fighter: Cocaine is a hell of a drug.