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Matthias Schoenaerts Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (3) | Mini Bio (1) | Trade Mark (8) | Trivia (89) | Personal Quotes (40)

Overview (3)

Born in Antwerp, Belgium
Nicknames Zenith
Matti
Height 6' 1½" (1.87 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Matthias Schoenaerts was born on December 8, 1977 in Antwerp, Belgium. His mother, Dominique Wiche, was a costume designer, translator and French teacher, his father is actor Julien Schoenaerts. He made his film debut at the age of 13, alongside his father in the Belgian film Daens (1992), which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Schoenaerts enrolled in film school but was expelled for poor attendance in his second year. By age 21, he was enrolled at the Academy of Dramatic Arts in Antwerp and was acting professionally in small roles on Belgian television and in Belgian film. By the time he graduated in 2003, Schoenaerts was already named one of "Europe's Shooting Stars" by the influential marketing organization, European Film Promotion.

In 2002, he starred in Dorothée Van Den Berghe's directorial debut Meisje (2002), which was also his first feature film since Daens. With his role in Tom Barman's Any Way the Wind Blows (2003), he proved he was Flanders' young actor to watch.

In 2004, Schoenaerts produced and starred in the short film A Message from Outer Space (2004). He also appeared in Ellektra (2004) alongside his father.

In 2006, he had a small role as a member of the Dutch Resistance in Paul Verhoeven's Black Book (2006), and landed his first starring role in the Belgian film Dennis van Rita (2006), playing Dennis, a mentally-challenged man learning to adjust to life after a prison sentence for a rape he may not have committed.

Though Schoenaerts garnered critical praise for his role in "Love Belongs to Everyone", the film that would make him a star in his homeland came in 2008, in Erik Van Looy's Loft (2008), Schoenaerts played Filip, one of a group of married friends who share the rent on a downtown loft as a place to meet their respective mistresses. The dramatic thriller was a smash hit, becoming the top-grossing Flemish film of all time. In the same year, he also starred in the horror film Linkeroever (2008).

In 2009, he worked once again with director Dorothée Van Den Berghe, playing the hippie Raven in My Queen Karo (2009).

In 2010, he played the lead role in Alex Stockman's techno-thriller Pulsar (2010).

In 2011, Schoenaerts starred in Michaël R. Roskam's Rundskop (2011), playing Jacky Vanmarsenille, a cattle farmer who becomes entangled with the underworld of bovine hormones and steroids. Impressed by the script, Schoenaerts committed to star in the film in 2005, and over the five years that it took first-time director Roskam to secure financing, the actor transformed his naturally thin body into that of a steroid abusing brute. His powerful performance in the tragic role won awards at numerous film festivals and propelled "Bullhead" to an Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign Language Film in 2012.

In 2012, Schoenaerts got the lead role opposite Marion Cotillard in Jacques Audiard's Rust and Bone (2012), in the film he played Ali, an ex-boxer who falls in love with Cotillard's character. Like Audiard's previous films, "Rust and Bone" received a breathless reception at the Cannes Film Festival with a ten-minute standing ovation at the end of its screening and was a critical and box office hit in France. Schoenaerts' performance in the film earned him a César Award for Most Promising Actor in 2013.

Schoenaerts also starred in the Belgian short film Death of a Shadow (2012), which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film in 2013 and won the European Film Award for Best European Short.

In 2013, he starred in Blood Ties (2013), after being recommended for the film by his former co-star in "Rust and Bone", Marion Cotillard.

Following his breakthrough in "Rust and Bone", Matthias started a career in Hollywood and landed roles in American and British productions like Saul Dibb's Suite Française (2014), Alan Rickman's A Little Chaos (2014), Michaël R. Roskam's The Drop (2014) and Thomas Vinterberg's Far from the Madding Crowd (2015).

In 2015, Schoenaerts returned to French cinema in Alice Winocour's Maryland (2015), in which he plays an ex-soldier with PTSD. He also played one of the leads of Luca Guadagnino's A Bigger Splash (2015), opposite Tilda Swinton and Ralph Fiennes, and played the art-dealer Hans Axgil in Tom Hooper's The Danish Girl (2015).

He will reteam with Michaël R. Roskam in Racer and the Jailbird (2017) and also with Thomas Vinterberg in Kursk (2018), in which Schoenaerts will play the Captain of a Russian submarine.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Polly_Kat

Trade Mark (8)

Often works with Michaël R. Roskam
Often plays characters with boxing skills
Polyglotism
Often plays characters who are mentally or emotionally unstable (Dennis van Rita (2006), Loft (2008), Rundskop (2011), De Bende van Oss (2011), Blood Ties (2013), The Drop (2014), Maryland (2015), A Bigger Splash (2015))
Often plays soldiers (De smaak van De Keyser (2008), Tunnelrat (2008), Death of a Shadow (2012), Suite Française (2014), Maryland (2015))
Flawless American accent (Blood Ties (2013), The Drop (2014))
His portrayal of sensitive tough guys
Raspy, deep voice

Trivia (89)

His name is pronounced "Ma-tee-us Scone-arts".
Grew up bilingual speaking Flemish/Dutch and French. He's also fluent in English, which he learned by watching American films.
Lives in Antwerp, Belgium.
Is a graffiti artist under the pseudonym "Zenith".
Has appeared in Belgian, Dutch, French, American, British and Italian films, in which he speaks Flemish, Dutch, French, English and German.
Son of actor Julien Schoenaerts and costume designer/translator/French teacher Dominique Wiche.
Was raised both by his mother in Antwerp and his grandmother in Brussels; his mother never married his father, who died in 2006. His mother died in 2016.
Has an older half-brother, Bruno Schoenaerts (born 1953), a lawyer. And two deceased half-sisters, Helga Schoenaerts (1961-1982, suicide) and Sarah Schoenaerts (1955-2014, cancer).
Uncle of Ellen Schoenaerts.
Has a tattoo on his left inner arm, a triangle. This tattoo can be seen in the film A Bigger Splash (2015).
Grew up loving and playing soccer, and also painting especially graffiti. Even went to New York City to collaborate briefly with Bronx group known as Tats Cru.
Was close to becoming a professional soccer player and was on the books of Antwerp team Beerschot AC, but gave up when he was 16. He appears in the documentary De Pleintjes (2014) playing soccer with kids in the same place in Antwerpen-Zuid where he used to play when he was a kid.
Is a fan of Belgian football club FCO Beerschot Wilrijk and of Spanish club FC Barcelona.
Spent a year in film school but was kicked out for poor attendance.
Was director Jan Verheyen's first choice to play Dieter in Alias (2002), but Schoenaerts' drama school refused to give him time off to star in the movie, so the part went to second choice Geert Hunaerts.
2003: Named as one of European films' Shooting Stars by European Film Promotion.
Graduated from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in Antwerp in 2003.
Appeared in two films with his father, Julien Schoenaerts: Daens (1992) and Ellektra (2004), the latter is the only film in which they shared scenes together.
Starred in two films directed by Dorothée Van Den Berghe: Meisje (2002) and My Queen Karo (2009).
His father Julien Schoenaerts was named "the Marlon Brando of Flanders". Since he starred in Rundskop (2011) and Rust and Bone (2012), Matthias has been called "the Belgian Brando".
Starred in two films with Els Dottermans. She played his girlfriend in Meisje (2002) and years later she played his mother in Dennis van Rita (2006).
Appeared in two films with Laura Verlinden: Loft (2008) and Death of a Shadow (2012). They also appeared on the mini-series De smaak van De Keyser (2008), although they didn't share any scene.
Auditioned for a role in David Cronenberg's A Dangerous Method (2011). The audition went well and the casting agents wanted to call him back, however, he had pledged his commitment to Rundskop (2011) and so had to let the opportunity slip.
Had to cultivate 27 kilograms of muscle mass to apply himself to the role of Jacky Vanmarsenille in Rundskop (2011), he prepped for the role for two years, committing to a diet of 3000 tins of tuna, several hundred chickens and plenty of oats, rice and pasta combined with an exhaustive weight lifting regimen. In addition, he also studied the Limburgish dialect to ensure he was performing with authenticity, so he wouldn't offend the natives. He also wore a prosthetic nose.
After putting on 27 kilos during two years to play Jacky in Rundskop (2011) and loosing it, he had to gain weight again to play Ali in Rust and Bone (2012). He spent two months boxing, doing MMA training on a daily basis and also doing weightlifting and eating junk food like burgers, ice-cream and pizza in order to gain weight and a little belly, because Jacques Audiard wanted Ali to look strong but not fit, a bit unhealthy because the character is poor, so he doesn't have the means to feed himself properly.
His performance as Jacky Vanmarsenille in Rundskop (2011) and Tom Hardy's performance in Bronson (2008) were Steven Ogg's inspirations to play Trevor Phillips in Grand Theft Auto V (2013). Steven Ogg revealed his inspirations at the New York Comic Con in October 2013. Schoenaerts and Hardy appeared together in the film The Drop (2014) directed by Michaël R. Roskam, who is also Bullhead's director.
Has starred opposite his friend Jeroen Perceval twice: in Injury Time (2010) and Rundskop (2011).
Marion Cotillard revealed that the first and only time that she liked filming sex scenes was in Rust and Bone (2012), on her scenes with Matthias.
First Belgian male actor to win a César award and one of 5 Belgian actors overall to win the award. The others are Natacha Régnier, Cécile De France, Yolande Moreau and Déborah François.
Two films in which he played the lead received Oscar nominations in two consecutive years: Rundskop (2011) was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film in 2012 and Death of a Shadow (2012) was nominated for Best Live Action Short Film in 2013.
Was considered by director José Padilha for the lead role of RoboCop (2014), but he dropped out because he thought that he wasn't prepared for a big movie like that yet. The part went to Joel Kinnaman. There's a scene in Rust and Bone (2012) in which Schoenaerts' character nicknames Marion Cotillard's character "RoboCop". Schoenaerts also worked with Paul Verhoeven, the director of the original RoboCop, in Black Book (2006).
Was originally cast as Leo Woeste in Waste Land (2014) but dropped out. Jérémie Renier was cast instead.
As of 2015, has appeared in three films that have been nominated for an Academy Award: Daens (1992) (Best Foreign Language Film), Rundskop (2011) (Best Foreign Language Film) and Death of a Shadow (2012) (Best Live Action Short Film).
Featured on W Magazine's portfolio of the Best Performances of 2012, for his performance in Rust and Bone (2012) [February 2013].
Played the same character in two different languages (Flemish and English), first in the Belgian film Loft (2008) and years later in the American remake The Loft (2014) - it was also his first English-speaking role.
After starring together in Rust and Bone (2012), Marion Cotillard recommended him for a role in her boyfriend's Guillaume Canet directorial debut in Hollywood: Blood Ties (2013). Canet told that he chose Schoenaerts after hearing Cotillard praising him several times.
Is often compared to Ryan Gosling. During an interview in 2013, Gosling told that Schoenaerts is an incredible actor and that he hopes he get to work with him. Schoenaerts told Vancouver Sun in 2015 that he's interested in doing a project with Gosling, they also have a friend in common, Nico Leunen.
Appeared on the cover of the first issue of French magazine Elle Man. [October 2013].
Filmed four movies in 2013: A Little Chaos (2014), The Drop (2014), Suite Française (2014) and Far from the Madding Crowd (2015).
Turned down the role of Batman in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016). During an interview on the Dutch TV show "24 uur met" in February 2016, Schoenaerts told that he felt he was too young to play Batman in his mid 40's. Schoenaerts was 35 years old when he was offered the role.
Face of Louis Vuitton Menswear Spring/Summer 2014 campaign.
Was in talks to play the male lead in Tulip Fever (2017), but turned it down and was replaced by Dane DeHaan.
Has worked with Michaël R. Roskam four times. First in the short film The One Thing to Do (2005), then in the features Rundskop (2011), The Drop (2014) and Racer and the Jailbird (2017).
Was originally cast as the male lead in Alive Alone but dropped out. Idris Elba replaced him. He gave the script to Noomi Rapace while they were shooting The Drop (2014).
Was offered the lead role in François Ozon's Une nouvelle amie (2014), but declined due to scheduling conflicts with Far from the Madding Crowd (2015). Romain Duris was cast instead and was nominated for a César award.
Starred in two films that made their world premieres at the 39th Toronto Film Festival in 2014: The Drop (2014) and A Little Chaos (2014), the latter was also the festival's closing-night film. [September 2014].
Was cast for the lead role of Belgica (2016), but dropped out due to scheduling conflicts.
Is a fan of Breaking Bad (2008), The Wire (2002) and The A-Team (1983).
Was set to star in D'Ardennen (2015) but dropped out and was replaced by Kevin Janssens.
Six of his films have been selected for the Toronto Film Festival in four consecutive years: Rust and Bone (2012) in 2012, Blood Ties (2013) in 2013, The Drop (2014) and A Little Chaos (2014) in 2014 and Maryland (2015) and The Danish Girl (2015) in 2015.
Ranked on TC Candler's annual list of "The 100 Most Handsome Faces From Around the World" for four consecutive years. He was ranked #30 in 2016, #21 in 2015, #9 in 2014 and #42 in 2013.
Initially, he didn't want to accept the role of a Nazi officer in Suite Française (2014) because he had moral issues with the character, but he changed his mind after reading the book in which the movie is based and he thought: "if the writer loves the character so much, then I have to allow myself to love him as well".
Played the piano when he was a kid, so he had a little basis for his role in Suite Française (2014), but he wanted to learn how to play for real in the film. Schoenaerts also learned to speak German for his role as German soldier Bruno von Falk.
In 2008, he starred in the Belgian mini-series De smaak van De Keyser (2008), about the Nazi occupation of Belgium. In this mini-series, Schoenaerts plays a Belgian soldier who goes to war and has to leave his girlfriend behind. Years later, he played a German officer who falls in love with a French girl in Suite Française (2014), a movie about the Nazi occupation of France. He also appeared in Black Book (2006) as a member of the Dutch Resistance in World War II.
Was mentioned in a Sony leaked email as a casting option for the role of Vosch in The 5th Wave (2016). He was also mentioned in an untitled super hero film.
Carey Mulligan suggested him for the role of Gabriel Oak in Far from the Madding Crowd (2015) after having seen him in Rust and Bone (2012).
Jacques Audiard e-mailed Matthias and convinced him to read the script of Maryland (2015) that his friend Alice Winocour had written for him. Audiard directed Matthias in Rust and Bone (2012) and the two of them became friends.
Has played a soldier five times: in De smaak van De Keyser (2008) (a Belgian soldier in World War II), Tunnelrat (2008) (an Allied in World War One), Death of a Shadow (2012) (a Belgian soldier in World War One), Suite Française (2014) (a German soldier in World War II) and Maryland (2015) (a French soldier in Afghanistan).
Was named a Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters in France on July 28th, 2015. This distinction is awarded by the French Ministry of Culture to people "who have distinguished themselves by their creativity in the artistic or literary field or the contribution they have made to the influence of the arts and literature in France and in the world".
Starred in four period pieces that were released in 2015: Suite Française (2014), A Little Chaos (2014), Far from the Madding Crowd (2015) and The Danish Girl (2015).
Had two films in the official competition at the 2015 Venice Film Festival: A Bigger Splash (2015) and The Danish Girl (2015).
Two of his films were selected for the 40th Toronto Film Festival in 2015: Maryland (2015) and The Danish Girl (2015).
A Bigger Splash (2015) marks the first time that he played a Belgian character in a non-Belgian and non-French production. The last time that he had played a Belgian character prior to this film was in Rust and Bone (2012). In the meantime, he played American, British, German, French and Danish characters.
He loves to paint, play soccer, boxing and is also a fan of architecture.
Was considered for the role of Batou, the male lead in Ghost in the Shell (2017).
Shares an agent with former co-stars Marion Cotillard, Kate Winslet and Noomi Rapace: Hylda Queally.
His directorial debut, Franky, is a documentary about a one-legged childhood friend of his who became a MMA fighter, Franky van Hove.
Is the co-owner of Hakuna Casting, a Belgian casting agency which stands for diversity and fights against the under-representation of people of color and foreign origin on the screen and wants to bring diversity into commercials, video-clips and films. The agency has collaborated on the casting of films like Black (2015) and Belgica (2016).
Participated on the Zoute Grand Prix in Belgium driving a 1937 BMW 328 Mille Miglia. [October 9, 2015].
Is a childhood friend of Belgian soccer player Radja Nainggolan.They played soccer together at youth levels at Beerschot AC.
Was InStyle Magazine's 'Man of Style' in December 2015.
Starred in 7 films released in 2015: The Loft (2014), Suite Française (2014), A Little Chaos (2014), Far from the Madding Crowd (2015), Maryland (2015), The Danish Girl (2015) and A Bigger Splash (2015).
Attended the London premiere of The Danish Girl (2015) on his 38th birthday. [December 8, 2015].
Had agreed upon playing the role of criminal anarchist Jules Bonnot in Florent-Emilio Siri's unmade 'La bande à Bonnot', but the project was shelved when distributor Pathé withdrew from it for budgetary reasons. His co-star would have been actress Bérénice Bejo.
Slept only two hours at night while shooting Maryland (2015) and ended up in a hospital.
Starred in a 12-minute pilot of a film titled "Theresa Immaculata", directed by Ramón Gieling in 2011. It was about a incestuous relationship between brother and sister in which Sylvia Hoeks (his co-star in De Bende van Oss (2011)) played the sister, Theresa, and Schoenaerts played her brother, Thomas. The film was never made but a 7-minute video of the pilot can be found on Youtube.
The New York Times described him as 'the most versatile beefcake actor of our time' in 2012.
Has Aerophobia (fear of flying).
Was approached for the role of Christian Grey in Fifty Shades of Grey (2015). Schoenaerts told that he fell asleep while reading the script and his agent told him to stay out of it.
Has dubbed in French most of his English-language roles.
Shot 8 films between 2012 and 2015: Blood Ties (2013), A Little Chaos (2014), The Drop (2014), Suite Française (2014), Far from the Madding Crowd (2015), A Bigger Splash (2015), Maryland (2015) and The Danish Girl (2015).
Was the coach of his childhood friend, Carlos Schram, during the last boxing match of his career on May 28, 2016 in Antwerp, Belgium.
Jodie Foster has expressed her desire to work with Schoenaerts during a Q&A at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival.
Spent most of his childhood at a boarding school. Was sent to a boarding school for the first time at 5 years old.
Has played two characters with big scars in their bodies: Bob in Linkeroever (2008) and Paul in A Bigger Splash (2015).
Stated that if he could be anything in the world other than what he is, he would be an architect.
Two short films that he starred in were screened at MoMA's exhibition "The Great War: A Cinematic Legacy" in 2014: Tunnelrat (2008) and Death of a Shadow (2012).

Personal Quotes (40)

[on Rundskop (2011)] We all get damned in our lives, and there are ripple effects. One thing can determine a life, and it's hard to overcome that if the event is really traumatic. Your life is completely condemned by it.
[on being a Hollywood man of the moment, with a string of movies on the docket - The New York Times, 2013] It's been exciting, but at some point it drives me nuts. I haven't been here [in Antwerp] a lot this year. Next year I want to do two projects and not more. Four or five a year starts feeling like a grab-the-money-and-run show.
[re family history] It's complicated. But when I was playing soccer, everything was fine.
I boxed a little when I was a teenager in Belgium, but I was pretty bad. I got punched a lot. For Rust and Bone (2012), I hit the boxing gym for five months on a daily basis. I just wanted to be believable. Yes, I did break my nose-but that's from something else. A friend kicked me in the face when we were teenagers. Twenty years later, I'm making a documentary about him-which proves that friendship can last forever.
[on being considered for the lead role in RoboCop (2014)] They [Belgian magazine Focus Knack] blew it out of proportion. In the sense that, they were interested, but to me, it didn't feel like the right thing to do at that specific time. I thought it was too big, I thought I needed something else, to get more confidence, and not jump into this huge budget thing. But yes, they blew it out of proportion, I wasn't really happy with that. It feels disrespectful to José Padilha, who's a great director.
I like to play underdogs and antiheroes. I don't like to play classical heroes.
[on Jacques Audiard] I don't know if he's crazy. Maybe all the other ones are crazy for not being like him. He wants to film truth, he doesn't want to film acting. Acting for him isn't about tricks and vanity; it's about being simple and authentic and sincere. He's the first true actor's director I've ever worked with.
[on the first time he saw Marion Cotillard on the set of Rust and Bone (2012)] I saw Marion before the rehearsal, she was in a wheelchair, she looked totally depressed and I thought ... 'It's not going to work out very well with Marion' and I thought 'What do I do? Should I talk to her?' It wasn't until we started rehearsing that I realized she was totally in Stéphanie's world already. She'd actually become Stéphanie. It made me really scared. She is an exceptional actress and she does everything to her utmost ability. Jacques Audiard is always highly demanding, very sensitive, highly intelligent and he enables us to expand and develop and move into areas that we might never have thought of, so I was very very happy to be in this film with Marion, to work with Jacques, it was overwhelming. It was a tremendous gift.
[on choosing screen projects] It's a combination of elements. Of course it starts with the screenplay and part of the creative team around it. It's an energy thing. If someone were to ask me to picture myself spending two weeks on a deserted island with this person, if the answer is 'yes' then I'm going to go. If we run out of conversation in thirty minutes, then why the fuck would you make a film with that person?
I hate it when people try to make you look like a pretty boy, I really don't like that. I always try to make myself look like shit when I do a role.
[on speaking three languages] It's part of our education [in Belgium]. And then, later on, I don't know. When we see American films, for instance, we have subtitles. We don't dub them, so you grow up with all these American films. So I probably picked up a lot from that as well.
I'm attracted to people with flaws. I like people that are imperfect-the anti-heroes. I don't believe in heroes. I think people can do heroic stuff, but I don't think people are heroes. I like ambiguous characters that you can hate at the same time, mostly for the same reason you like them.
I like good cinema, whether it's small independent cinema or a huge project. For me it's all about, is it going to blow people's minds, in a creative way, in an emotional way. That's the experience we're sharing with an audience when we go to a movie theater.
I don't want to be pinned down as just a physical actor. I understand that people may think I am, since Rundskop (2011) and Rust and Bone (2012) popped up one year after another, but that's a coincidence. I've done a lot of different stuff.
I think language, for me, it frees me as an actor. I don't know, playing in another language gives me a lot of energy. It's freeing. It's liberating. And it offers you the opportunity to work in France and in the States as well so that's exciting because I think language, that's a sad thing. The National Academy of Dramatic Arts, we don't even learn French or English and that's the only thing I think we're missing in our dramatic education.
[on Gabriel Oak] I was fascinated by the absolute selflessness and sincerity and loyalty of that guy.
[on Graffiti] I've been doing it ever since I was 13, 14. As a kid, I had a lot of books about painters; I was totally absorbed and obsessed. It has a meditative effect on me because it doesn't involve so many people.
I'm also an animal. I can also be a beast. I know about sex.
[on being directed by Alan Rickman in A Little Chaos (2014)] He is one of a kind actor and beautiful person. It's the first time I have been directed by an actor and that's quite something. You're being directed by an actor you appreciate and you know you will listen. I will listen and I will believe you and you have to be your own, and find it. He's the sweetest man.
[on Marion Cotillard] She's not an angel, actually, she's a Goddess. She's an extremely devoted, passionate actress, true artist. I had a tremendous experience working with her, she's very generous and talented.
[on the healing power of art - 2015 Venice Film Festival] I think, without sounding too knowledgeable, that beauty can save us and art is a search for beauty on many levels.
Love is that indestructible conviction where in the end, love can conquer everything. And it's really, really, really true.
[on the Shakespearean role that he would like to play - Irish Independent, November 2012] I guess Hamlet probably. I fell in love ever since the first time I read Hamlet, which is almost 20 years ago. I don't know if it's the most challenging, but it's just a very touching and interesting part.
I watched endless films as a child - everything you could think of, from Ken Loach to David Lynch - but I never saw a career in acting coming. At a certain point people started telling me to go to America but I was never interested in hanging out in Hollywood. I never chased anything. Everything came naturally.
[he dismisses any notion of being typecast as a brooding, muscle-bound anti-hero] It's a matter of making good choices with the roles you pick. Of course, every once in a while some-thing comes my way that requires a certain physicality, but most of the time the parts are pretty diverse. I'm happy that people don't just think of me as some big, physical guy. They know I can act, too.
I've been loving film ever since I was a teenager, so I was always interested in film or storytelling or the cinematography or the acting. All of the aspects that are part of movie-making interested me. It always spoke to me. There's so many ways to transcend energy through cinema.
[on if he's prepared to overtake Jean-Claude Van Damme as Belgium's most famous actor] I've never understood the fame aspect of it all. I want to enjoy what I do and that's all. And c'mon, you can't get bigger than Jean-Claude Van Damme.
[on the actors or directors that he'd like to work with - Indiewiere, April 2015] I don't remember the director [Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris], but I loved, for example, "Little Miss Sunshine." I loved "Nebraska" by Alexander Payne. Beautiful film. At the same time, I'd love to work with Will Ferrell. Just to be on set and watch him, and lie on the floor and crack up all the time. So yeah, I'm open. I did a comedy ["De President"], like, four years ago. I played a sidekick with a friend of mine. We played two sidekicks. Bulgarian gypsy types. That was fun. But I must say that I tend towards... the comedy should be really good, because otherwise I get bored after two days. I like to act a fool, but after two days I'm like, "Okay, I'm done with this. Now give me the meaty stuff.
[The Sunday Times, UK - April 2015] It's important for me to have my people around. And there are not so many - it's not like I have a billion friends. If you have a billion friends, you need to ask yourself some questions, because something is definitely wrong.
True love is considering the person we love, considering what that person needs and how you can contribute to that. It's not about, "How can I get that person to do what I want?" That's not love. That's egotistical nonsense.
[on if he could be anything in the world other than what he is, what would it be? - Interview magazine, May 2015] I think an architect. I don't know why, exactly. I don't have the mathematical structure for that, but I love architecture.
[The Sunday Times, UK - April 2015] My biggest ambition is to live fully. I really, really wanna get to the depth of life, in the purest sense of the word.
[InStyle, December 2015] I see no reason to live in Los Angeles, except for the weather. In Antwerp I live five minutes away from the house I grew up in. I'm still close with my friends, so being in this city gives me a place to rest, rejuvenate, and load up my batteries. I play a lot of sports here, like soccer and boxing. I paint. I read mostly philosophical works and sociological studies on modern-day societies.
[InStyle, December 2015] Reading makes me think more about how humankind is portrayed on film. I have a casting company called Hakuna that I acquired this August. Its focus is casting people of color. I hardly ever see people from different backgrounds onscreen. Flanders is actually more diverse than New York City. Yet so few of those people even dream of an acting career because it seems to impossible to imagine. That's what we're trying to change.
I think the baddies are more interesting than the heroes. Why does everyone talk about the villains in Batman? It's because they are more fun to play, and you can see that onscreen. It's not just that I want to be an antagonist. It's that I look for stories that are ambiguous in nature and for characters who are complicated. People use the characters they see on TV and in movies to test their own values. So, as an artist, I wonder, What can I do to make the audience think differently about what good is, what bad is, who a man is, and who a woman is.
Yes, I am a romantic, but not in the way of candlelit dinners. It's more that I treat things in a sensitive way. I believe loyalty is the nicest gift you can give anyone. It's worth more than a poem, a song or any other type of art.
[on playing tough characters] In appearance they might seem tough, but to me it's a fractured being. I like it when people label these people 'tough guys', because what I try to create or translate to the screen is the opposite. I like to break down that perception, so by the end of the film, those who have a notion or a judgment really care for the character, and see the soul instead of the package that they used to label.
[De Morgen, February 2016] I'm not insensitive to female beauty. But I don't have to explain that certain beauties have the effect of a sleeping pill after 10 minutes. Because, of course, I meet people, who try to make me understand hysterically that I need them. People who like to stick to me. I can rather quickly distinguish the vampire from the butterflies. And furthermore I am better alone that badly accompanied.
[on his ideal woman] I need someone with a real passion for life; a person who's on a quest for truthfulness. I find that incredibly attractive. They also need to be pretty independent, like a cat. If I could be any animal, I'd be a cat. They don't rely on anyone. In a relationship you have to trust each other - becoming dependent on one another isn't healthy. Also, cats don't 'have' to do anything - how great is that?
[on the person who helped his self-acceptance] My mother. She was always there for me, especially at the times I needed her most. She showed me how important I was to her and gave me those important feelings of self-worth. It's so important to love yourself. Life is a roller coaster and it's easy to lose your balance.

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