Born as Jean-Claude Camille Francois Van Varenberg, Jean Claude van Damme is a Belgian actor and retired martial artist. He got famous thanks to parts in martial arts action movies. Jean Claude van Damme dominated the late 1980s and early 1990s. He is one of the three successful martial arts actors, including Schwarzenegger and Stallone. But how much is Jean Claude van Damme net worth?
Well, unlike the other two martial arts actors, Jean Claude van Damme didn’t make the jump into more serious movies. That is why his net worth is relatively smaller compared to the other two. As of June 2020, Jean Claude van Damme net worth is more than $40 million.
Born in Brussels, Belgium in 1960, he started practicing martial arts at the age of 10. His father enrolled him in a Shotokan Karate school. This moment was a huge turning point for his career. Shotokan Karate influenced his fighting style and career. At the age of 18, he earned his black belt in karate. After that, he took up practicing Taekwondo and Muay Thai.
Fun fact: at the age of 16, he studied ballet. And he did it for five years. At the age of 12, he joined the National Center of Karate. After four years, he earned a spot on the Belgian Karate team. He started his competitive karate career at the age of 15. From 1976 to 1980, Jean Claude had 44 victories and 4 defeats in tournament and non-tournament matches.
Van Damme was also part of the Belgian Karate team that won the European Karate Championship in December 1979. From 1977 to 1982, he moved to a full-contact career. During this span, he recorded 18 victories and 1 defeat. Then, he retired in 1982.
At the age of 22, he moved to America with a friend to pursue a career in Hollywood. Fun fact: he was already a millionaire when he moved to America. Before moving to America, Jean Claude van Damme launched a chain of private gyms in his home country.
He got his first chance in the movie Breakin. He was cast as an extra. But his breakout role was Bloodsport in 1988. He followed it up with movies like Kickboxer, Death Warrant, Lionheart Double Impact, and more. Van Damme joined the lineup of action stars like Chuck Norris, Charles Bronson, and others.
His 1992 movie Universal Soldier earned $102 million worldwide. For that time, it was a huge success. At this point, he signed with a Columbia Records for a three-movie deal. During the 1990s, Van Damme had a successful run with Street Fighter, Timecop, Sudden Death, Maximum Risk, Double Team, and Nowhere to Run.
In total, Jean-Claude appeared in more than 50 movies. Besides acting in movies, he guest-starred in Friends and directed a couple of movies. His directing credits include The Quest, Full Love, and more.
Despite his success, Van Damme also won a couple of negative awards. For example, he won Golden Raspberry for Worst Screen Couple for Double Team with Dennis Rodman. Fun fact: He won a Bollywood Movie award for International Action Super Star in 2004.
Van Damme spent most of the 2000s in a hiatus. Then, he returned to Hollywood in the 2010s. First, he got a part in the Kung Fu Panda franchise, voicing the Master Croc.
And then, he got cast as the main villain in the Expendables 2. There, he starred alongside actors like Chuck Norris, Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Bruce Willis, and other action stars.
And here is another fun story of Jean Claude van Damme. The idea of the original Mortal Kombat game was to base it on Van Damme and his character. The creators, Ed Boon and John Tobias wanted to star Van Damme as himself in the game. But the deal fell through because he had another game deal for the Sega Genesis Platform. Yet, they still found a way to include him. The character Johnny Cage is Van Damme.
Earnings and income
Let’s start with his early success. He earned just $25,000 for the movie that put him on the scene, Bloodsport. Then, he earned $75,000 for the next few movies, including Kickboxer and Death Warrant.
It wasn’t until the 1990s that his salary went up. At this point, Jean-Claude was a star. So, he commanded a salary of $600,000 for the Double Impact movie. Then, he earned $1.5 million for Universal Soldier. His career-high in the 1990s was $8 million for Street Fighter.
From the 1990s, he earned around $40 million in base salaries alone. But his biggest box office success came later in life. His highest-earning movie is The Expendables 2. It earned more than $315 million.
Kung Fu Panda 2 earned $189 million at the box office, while the third sequel earned $151 million. Some of his early success at the box office include Street Fighter and Timecop. The former earned $74 million, while the latter earned $100 million.
Van Damme, along with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone is part of the trinity of uber-masculine actors. They dominated the action movie scene. But unlike these two, he never learned to adapt his screen presence to the more nuance movies of today. And that is why his bank account is not as big. For comparison, Jean Claude van Damme net worth is more than $40 million. Arnold and Sylvester have a net worth of $400 million each.
During his successful run in the mid-1990s, Van Damme had an expensive cocaine habit. He had to enter a drug rehab program. At the time, he spent more than $10,000 on cocaine per week. Thankfully, he got over it.
So far, he got married five times to four different women. Jean-Claude has three children. In 2012, he bought a brand new spec mansion in Marina Del Rey for $6 million. And then he sold it in 2016 for $7.25 million.
In 2012, the city of Anderlecht, Belgium, unveiled a statue of the actor. The artwork depicts a younger incarnation of the actor in a fighting pose. He said the statue represents the dream of a Brussels kid and shows that if you believe in something, it can come true.