Jean-Claude was born Jean-Claude Camille François Van Varenberg, on 18 October 1960, in Berchem-Sainte-Agathe, Brussels, Belgium. He is the son of Eliana and Eugène Van Varenberg, who were an accountant and florist.
He also has a sister Veronique Van Varenberg.
He began martial arts at the age of 10, enrolled by his father in a martial arts school. His styles consist of Karate and Kickboxing. He eventually earned his black belt in karate at 18. He started lifting weights to improve his physique, which eventually led to a Mr. Belgium bodybuilding title.
At the age of 16, he took up ballet, which he studied for five years. According to JC, ballet "is an art, but it's also one of the most difficult
At the age of 10-11, JC joined the Centre National De Karaté (National Center of Karate) under the guidance of Claude Goetz in Belgium. He trained for four years and he earned a spot on the Belgian Team, later training in full-contact with Dominique Valera.
At the age of 15, he started his competitive career in Belgium. From 1976 to 1980, he compiled a record of 44 victories and 4 defeats in tournament and non-tournament semi-contact matches. JC was a member of the Belgium Team when it won the European Championship on 26 December 1979 at La Coupe Francois Persoons Tournament in Brussels.
JC began to create his own scientific way of martial arts, starting ballet at 16 and body building to build martial balance, strength and control.
Jean Claude had two short young marriages in the early 80's, but had soon set his sights on hollywood stardom and emigrated to the United States of America. JC met his next wife to be 'Gladys Portugues' on a photoshoot and were soon married in 1987.
In that same year on May 20th their first child 'Kristopher Julien van Varenberg' (a.k.a. Kris van Damme) was born.
On October 17th 1990, one day before JC's 30th birthday, their daughter 'Bianca Brigitte van Varenberg' (a.k.a. Bianca Bree and Bianca Brigitte van Damme) was born.
In 1992 JC and Gladys sadly parted and were soon divorced. JC went on to marry 'Darcy LaPier' in 1994. Their first son (JC's third child), 'Nicolas van Varenberg' (a.k.a. Nic van Varenberg) was born on October 10th 1995. After the birth of Nic, this marriage soon led to divorce in 1997. After spending a lot of time back with Gladys they soon re-married in 1999 in Belgium and remain happily married to this day.
Kris and Bianca have both appeared in several of their father's movies, with Nic also making his first appearance in a movie with his father in 'Kickboxer Retaliation'.
In 1982, JC and friend Michel Qissi moved to the USA in hope of becoming stars. Both were cast as extra's in 'Breakin'. After a small part in 'Missing In Action', JC was cast in No Retreat, No Surrender as villain, Ivan the Russian. JC worked for director John McTiernan on the 1987 film 'Predator' as an early version of the titular alien which was abandoned.
'Bloodsport', based on the story of Frank Dux was a 1.5 million dollar budget film, which became a box-office hit in 1988. A string of hit movies followed from 'Kickboxer', 'Double Impact', 'Universal Soldier', 'Hard Target', 'Timecop' and 'Sudden Death'.
In 2008 JC played an on screen version of himself in the critically acclaimed film JCVD, which received outstanding reviews. Time Magazine named JC's performance in the film as second best of that year, following only Heath Ledger as The Joker. In 2011 Sylvester Stallone signed JC to play the villain in the 2012 'Expendables 2' movie as Jean-villain.
JC has also appeared in very commercially popluar ad's for Volvo and Coors light from 2011-Present. His 'Epic Split' video reached over 80 million people online, whilst the 'Coors Light' ad's are fan favourites.