This topic was raised over at the forums recently by user MBison. Kris Van Damme, he needs to follow in his father’s footsteps and become an action star. That’s not his chosen career direction though, instead he’s taken the route of trying to become a thespian, trying to be the next Pacino instead of the next Van Damme. Since we’re talking about the name Van Damme, he has even dropped it as a surname. Technically we should be calling him Kris Van Varenberg, as that’s what his legal name is. Supposedly, he wanted to ditch the Van Damme monicker so that he could make it in the industry as his own man, supposedly free of the martial arts stigma. That’s the wrong thing to do.
It’s not that he’s not a bad ‘actor’, in fact he’s easily already better than his father in that regard. But that doesn’t matter. The problem is two-fold. In this day and age, it doesn’t matter how good you are as an actor, being a great actor doesn’t necessarily mean you’re destined to go straight to the top. The old maxim holds true, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Take Joseph Gordon Levitt, that man is an awful actor and exceptionally wooden. And yet he’s one of the biggest names in Hollywood, they’re even letting that plank of wood direct his own movies now. Second, assuming things were played straight in Hollywood, there are already too many ‘good’ actors. In short, the industry is over saturated with good actors and boring shits masquerading as good actors. It’s too hard to break into.
Since the odds are stacked against Kris Van Varenberg becoming a great thespian, he must use other tools that he has at his disposal. For those not aware, Kris has been training in martial arts for many years. What else would you expect from the son of Van Damme? The likes of Leonardo DiCaprio and Will Smith may have hegemony over certain avenues – the former can’t act and worse, the latter can, but one thing these types of people can’t produce naturally is a helicopter kick. That kind of thing can’t be faked. Kris’ skill set is one acquired over many years, so he must play to his strengths and dazzle people in other ways by kicking all kids of ass. It worked for his old man, who even got a great dramatic role (eventually) in JCVD (2008) out of it. He has to play the game and kick in the door first, so to speak. What he’s doing now isn’t working.
He should start by changing his name back to Van Damme, as a statement of intent at least. It didn’t hurt Brandon Lee, did it? He was the son of Bruce Lee, but being the son of a man who was bigger than Van Damme senior didn’t stop him on his way to potentially becoming the next big thing in the 1990’s. At present, nobody knows he exists basically. He could change that. KVD has a lot going for him: young, owner of a famous name, great physical agility and a superior actor to his father with a vastly superior attitude.
He just needs to come full circle and realise what he is.