Alain Moussi is a Lebanese/Canadian actor and stuntman. After working on several films, including X-Men: Days of Future Past and White House Down, he scored his big break opposite childhood hero Jean-Claude Van Damme in the Kickboxer reboot. Alain took the time to chat with STARBURST about martial arts training, doing the splits, and dancing.
STARBURST: Alain, there is only one way to start this interview we’re afraid; of all the training you did for Kickboxer: Vengeance, how much did you have to work on the famous Jean-Claude Van Damme dance?
Alain Moussi: (Laughs) I think that, just like a lot of people who loved Kickboxer as kids, I’ve been practicing that dance since I was 10 years old. I had it perfected by the time I was 12! It was the last day of shooting, they turned the music on and we did it in one take. It was so cool.
So after all that practice, how did you come to be involved in the project?
I met the writer and producer Dimitri Logothetis in 2011 on a film and we ended up doing a showcase with the team for all the fights. After that I auditioned for a role, and that was it. I’d wanted to get into acting, and had done some workshops, but didn’t expect it then. Two years later Dimitri called me to say he was going to reboot Kickboxer and asked me to do another showcase, so I did. Ted Field (producer) was there and so I screen tested and that was it.
You’ve clearly trained hard throughout your career, but was there any special training you needed to do for this film?
It wasn’t so much about the training itself, as learning how to put it all together. There weren’t so many new moves, just a couple I’d been working on and ones I really wanted in. Mostly it was about sharpening my skills as I knew it was going to be a tight schedule and I would only be able to learn the choreography on set. It was like “learn it and perform, learn it and perform” every day. That was the challenge – no rehearsal. So I needed to be sharp and conditioned in order to learn really fast and get through these 12-hour shooting days. I also hired an acting coach so I could spend time each day working on that. I still do that; giving myself acting workouts.
It must have been daunting going on set with Dave Bautista, Georges St. Pierre and of course Jean-Claude Van Damme, but was it reassuring that they had all come from an athletic background and not an acting one like yourself?
Absolutely, it was so helpful. They were all so nice too. Like, with Dave, I had this expectation that he would be a cool guy, and he is, but it’s the work ethic you notice. These guys all set out to work harder than the next guy and work at acting the same way they work at wrestling, or body-building or whatever. I like observing these guys, take in any advice, and if there’s anything I can steal I will, and use for myself (laughs).
Will fans of the old series be able to relate to this new version?
We pay homage to some films, but mainly the original Kickboxer. I mean, the splits obviously, you got to have the splits (laughs)! There’s a little wink to what Jean-Claude made famous, but then we tap into what’s happening today. It’s great, though, that Jean-Claude is in the film as a main character and not just a cameo. There’s this whole generation who haven’t seen him, which is really interesting.
You shot Kickboxer: Vengeance 2 years ago now, but have already wrapped on a sequel. Was there a confidence when you were making it that it was going well which prompted the follow up?
When I was told we were going to make the second right away I was surprised. Dimitri was prepping another film at the time, but when we showed the rough cut to some investors they were really interested and gave the go ahead. This gave us real confidence so we just got on with it. I was excited that people were responding well to the film and I couldn’t wait to get started. What’s exciting now is that we’re not rebooting anymore, but are able to do something entirely new. This new film is a follow up to what we did in Vengeance which is really cool.
We have to ask about your fellow cast members on the next film: Christopher Lambert which is cool, Mike Tyson which is good, and Brazilian footballer Ronaldinho, who we understand is actually playing a character called Ronaldo.
(Laughs) I don’t know if we actually say his name in the film but that is funny.
What it seems to say, though, is that there’s a fun element to these new films that is missing in many other fighting or action films today.
And that’s what you’ll see in Kickboxer: Retaliation. Ronaldinho wasn’t brought in because he’s an actor, or even wants to be one. He’s there because he can do what he does for real. Mike Tyson is Mike Tyson and Ronaldinho is Ronaldinho. He’s one of the best soccer players in the world and already has a huge audience. For me, and the writers and directors, it comes down to using these guys and what their known for, and put it on screen in a fun way that makes sense. His scene is awesome!
You genuinely sound like you’re enjoying what you’re doing now. How much has your life changed with these films?
I always wanted to be making films one way or another. I love performing, but really it’s just the process. I get to be on screen with these great people and work with a great crew. How has it changed my life? I get to make more movies and that’s all I really want. Doing Kickboxer: Vengeance confirmed for me that this is really what I want to do.
Alain, thank you for your time today.
Thank you, appreciate it.
Kickboxer: Vengeance is out now in select UK cinemas and also available on VOD.