Jean-Claude Van Damme appeared in the second season episode of FRIENDS, one of the most popular shows to grace television. Among several stars who guest appeared on the show, the cast & crew remembered the Bloodsport actor as particularly difficult to work with. In the episode titled The One After The Superbowl, Van Damme played a fictional version of himself.
Van Damme's cameo came along with the appearances of actors like Julia Roberts, Brooke Shields, and Chris Isaak. The actors were cast in this episode as part of a deliberate strategic move by NBC to schedule the popular show in the high-profile post-Super Bowl timeslot and gain maximum ad revenue.
The hour-long episode received mixed reviews. But NBC's strategy worked, as it remains one of the highest-rated Super Bowl lead-out programs and the most-watched FRIENDS episode, thanks to Jean-Claude Van Damme and other cameo appearances in the episode. However, the success didn't necessarily mean all went smoothly on the sets.
Reportedly, Van Damme was four hours late to reach the shooting location. One of the directors of the episode, Michael Lembeck, recalled how the Kickboxer actor arrived on set totally unprepared and arrogant. The Belgian actor was one of the most sought-after action heroes at the time.
The president of NBC Entertainment at that time, Warren Littlefield, even jokingly added that the monkey who played Ross's pet Marcel in the show was easier to work with than Jean-Claude Van Damme.
In the episode, both Rachel and Monica, played by Jennifer Aniston and Courteney Cox respectively, fall for the "actor" Jean-Claude Van Damme, whom they meet on the fictional movie set. As both their characters were trying to get Van Damme's attention, both actresses had an intimate kiss scene with the actor.
During the shoot, Aniston approached director Lembeck to speak with the JCVD actor and to ask him not to use his tongue when kissing her. The director had a talk with the Lionheart actor, however, in the next scene with Courteney Cox, the same thing happened. Cox also came to Lembeck with a similar request, "Lem, can you tell him not to put his tongue in my mouth?"
Kevin Bright, another director on the episode, confirmed this incident, stating, "We asked him several times." It seems like the most sought-after actor was not great to work with, after such behavior with co-stars on set.
FRIENDS is now available for streaming on Peacock.
Source: The Hollywood Reporter