JCVD (2008) Poster



In the opening intro scene, Jean-Claude Van Damme's comment about not being able to film in one shot was his own ad-lib, partly in response to Mabrouk El Mechri actually wanting to shoot the scene in one shot.
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The whole scene in the taxi is completely improvised. Mabrouk El Mechri told Jean-Claude Van Damme to just be nice to the driver no matter what she said.
According to Mabrouk El Mechri in a Q&A at the Toronto International Film Festival, about 70% of the film was scripted and the other 30% was improvised by the actors.
Mabrouk El Mechri and Jean-Claude Van Damme had an agreement that the latter couldn't yell 'cut' to end a scene (as Van Damme has done on many of his other films).
Mabrouk El Mechri agreed to rewrite the script on the condition he could meet Jean-Claude Van Damme first before starting the draft, so he wouldn't waste six months on something that Van Damme would veto.
Jean-Claude Van Damme actually has a son, but it was changed in the movie to a daughter for legal reasons. Mabrouk El Mechri claims the daughter's name, Gloria, came to him because he was listening to the Van Morrison song of the same name.
The opening intro scene was filmed at the end of the shoot for insurance reasons. It was rehearsed over an entire night and shot in 4 or 5 takes.
The concept for the film originated when the producer had an agreement with Jean-Claude Van Damme to play himself in a movie. In the original screenplay Van Damme was portrayed more as a clown. Mabrouk El Mechri was brought on to rewrite, and was subsequently asked to direct.
Mabrouk El Mechri didn't write much dialog for Van Damme, as he did not want Van Damme to be limited by the words, as he has 'his own music'.


The trivia item below may give away important plot points.

Jean-Claude Van Damme made Mabrouk El Mechri swear not to tell anyone about the content of the six minute monologue he delivers straight to the camera. So El Mechri booked off 2 hours in the 5th week of shooting, and called it the X scene. He had a big black curtain set up, as Van Damme is a shy person, and El Mechri didn't want him to make eye contact with anyone before or during the scene. When Van Damme talks about not wanting to die in the post office, that was the cue for the crew to bring him back into the post office by lowering the crane. There was a red light next to the camera to indicate when the camera was running empty of film.

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