Q&A: Alain Moussi talks “KICKBOXER: VENGEANCE”!Movies/TV,News Amy Seidman
Here at FANGORIA, we pride ourselves on giving readers the very latest and greatest on all things horror, but if you may, please indulge our mutual fandom for the action-packed cinema that created icons out of Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan and Jean Claude Van Damme. Seasoned martial artist and stuntman Alain Moussi took that love one step and countless hours of practice further, and now, Moussi is in the big shoes that once belonged to JCVD in KICKBOXER: VENGEANCE.
This reboot of KICKBOXER stars Moussi in Jean Claude Van Damme’s infamous role as Kurt Sloane, while Jean Claude Van Damme fills the role of Master Durand. Add in that the rest of the cast is rounded out by fighting greats like George St. Pierre and Dave Bautista alongside the final appearance of respected stuntman Darren Shahlavi, and you don’t need more convincing that KICKBOXER: VENGEANCE is a hard-hitting action film not to be missed. FANGORIA spoke to Moussi prior to filming; here is what he has to say about stunt work, martial arts, Jean Claude Van Damme and THAT dance scene in KICKBOXER.
FANGORIA: At what age and why did you decide to get into martial arts?
ALAIN MOUSSI: When I first got started seriously was when I was 10 years old. I got interested because my parents tried me out for it first when I was 7 years old, but I didn’t connect with it right away. My mom started training instead, and then when I started watching Van Damme movies, that’s when I really got interested. It’s funny because I had a friend who would talk about BLOODSPORT all the time and I never understood what BLOODSPORT was. When he finally showed me and I thought “ Wow, it’s just amazing,” and right away ,I wanted to go back and start training. With my mom training in the Jiu-Jitsu school, I got started right away and never looked back.
FANGORIA: You’re both an actor and a stuntman. What skills would you suggest aspiring stuntmen learn?
MOUSSI: Wow, there is so much. Martial arts, as a base, was great for me, especially Jiu-Jitsu because of the throwing and the falling, which I have been doing since I was a kid. When you are doing stunts, a big part of your job is just taking a beating since you are falling down all the time. So, I find having the ability to fall without hurting yourself is something very important.
There is also an understanding that stunt work is acting; you are in-character all the time and getting the reactions that you need is a part of the acting. The better you are at doing that, the more realistic it looks on screen and the more you can sell the action. So knowing how to fall, how to react properly, have a certain acting ability and then all the skills come together. You also have the acrobatics and the martial arts fighting skills, which are good skills to have in general. A lot of people get specialized in horseback riding as well, and you also have all the mechanical stuff such as motorcycle and cars.
Some stunt men are very well rounded as “generalists”, so they are good at a lot of things which works really well because they can get hired for lots of things. Then the others are “specialists”; In my case, I came in as a specialist in martial arts and fighting and falling so at the times when I was hired it was for fights and big falls, and it’s been quite interesting. I never got to get into the mechanical side. I think that everything has its merit and it’s important to look at what the meat and potatoes is in the business which is mostly shows and movies with people getting shot, falling, getting hit or getting into a fight. If you can do that, it’s a great base, and then you can add more skills as you move along in your career.
FANGORIA: Why is there this stigma that stunt people can’t act?
MOUSSI: A lot of stunt people don’t necessarily take the time to train in acting the way they train with any other skill they have; it always comes down to training. Having watched a lot of actors-and also having trained in acting myself-I didn’t know how hard it would be, but it is hard. It requires training as it is an art. Some martial artists will spend thousands and thousands of hours training for years and years to get really good. But then you look at acting and you think, “Yeah, just put me in front of a camera and I’ll act,” but it’s not like that. That’s like saying, “Put me in a UFC fight, as I have done a one day workshop and… let’s fight!” It doesn’t work that way so I think that, like anything that is a skill, you have to train, whether you are a natural or not you have got to work at it, and if you don’t, well, then it doesn’t even get good for a stuntman.
I think that this generation is changing a bit though because a lot of stunt people I know are all taking acting classes because it does improve your stunt performance tremendously. I find people are paying attention to that but it wasn’t like that so much before, when you would look at stunt people, and someone said, “Well, let’s get this stunt guy to act,” and they said, “Well, they’re not good, ’cause that is not what they are trained at doing.” But today, that is why there is a category called “Stunt Actor” as these are people who are recognized in our community as also having trained in acting…and often. I know a bunch of guys who constantly called for any kind of Stunt Actor roles because they have trained in acting, they are very physical as they have trained in stunts, and they can blend the two together very nicely.
FANGORIA: Is KICKBOXER: VENGEANCE the first time we will see you as an action film leading man as opposed to a stunt double?
MOUSSI: As the main lead, yes. A few years ago, I was cast in a movie called WINGS OF THE DRAGON, but something in the film didn’t work later on and so we had to stop production. That was the first time I was put in that position and I loved it; I thought it was amazing. It was a great experience for me which is why I was so looking forward to doing KICKBOXER: VENGEANCE. The first day I came on set, I was so scared; I didn’t have a huge thing to do but obviously I was acting in a big film with very little acting experience. So I got the jitters the first time around and after that first day, it just got smoother and smoother as it got along. After that experience, I knew I had to do this. This is exactly what I have to do and be doing all the time. So now here we are, all these years later and I’m in KICKBOXER: VENGEANCE.
FANGORIA: So your thousands upon thousands of hours training started when you were 10, watching Jean Claude Van Damme movies and now you are starring in the reboot of KICKBOXER in his shoes. So how does that feel?
MOUSSI: It’s kind of surreal…actually, it’s completely surreal! I always wanted to be in that position but I never expected it to be that movie, or a remake of a Van Damme movie since he was my hero as a kid. So, to be in those shoes, it’s amazing. I feel really fortunate to be there and I hope to honor the film and the fans. It’s going be a very cool film with lots of awesome action. It’s funny because right before I went to L.A. to meet with producers and to do an audition piece for the role, I had been working with Van Damme the week before. That’s when I met him for the first time on a set in Vancouver. I was going right from Vancouver to LA to showcase for KICKBOXER: VENGEANCE. It was funny how that just happened to be and he was very nice; we got along really well and later on he called me back to work with him some more. Then, I happened to do the showcase for KICKBOXER: VENGEANCE and everything worked out and, I got the role!
It feels incredible to walk in those shoes and be able to be in a film I loved so much growing up, and not be in it as a stunt double but as the lead. When I got signed on to KICKBOXER: VENGEANCE, the producer said, “Alain, you are going to need a stunt double.” I know that sounds crazy but at the end of the day it all comes down to insurance purposes. If I sprain my ankle and the next day there is fighting that has to be done, the fighting has to be done. That being said, I won’t use him unless it’s absolutely necessary. My abilities as a stunt double is one of the reasons the producers wanted me, but it would be stupid for a production to be put in jeopardy because of something like that.
FANGORIA: Where will it be shot?
MOUSSI: In Louisiana and also in Thailand.
FANGORIA: The original was shot in Thailand, right?
MOUSSI: That’s right.
FANGORIA: How is your dancing? There is a great dance scene in the original KICKBOXER; will you be needing a dance double for that?
MOUSSI: [laughs] Oh boy, I don’t even know what to say about that!
KICKBOXER: VENGEANCE will have its premiere at the Fantasia Film Festival on July 14th.