Jean-Claude Van Damme is back, and he’s coming to Amazon. In a slew of firsts, the action hero is making his television debut, and he’s foregoing all the major networks in favor of Amazon’s streaming service. As originally reported by The Hollywood Reporter, the famous Belgian is going to star in an original scripted comedy for Amazon, aptly titled Jean-Claude Van Johnson.
The project will bring Van Damme back together with Dave Callaham of The Expendables‘ , who will not only be writing the script, but also serving as an executive producer (along with big names like Ridley Scott and David Zucker). While the show has been under discussion since 2014, production isn’t slated to start until mid-May in Los Angeles.
Jean-Claude Van Johnson will be somehow epitomize the notion of art imitating reality — Van Damme will be playing (a version of) himself in an almost Birdman-esque plot. As The Hollywood Reporter notes, the actor will portray “a famous actor and martial-arts pro who comes out of retirement to resume his alter-ego: an undercover private contractor by the name of Jean-Claude Van Johnson.” Best of all, perhaps, Van Damme’s character will star in a new version of Huckleberry Finn, because what good is television without having a movie inside it?
This is by no means the first time the actor has actually parodied himself, to some extent. Back in 2008, he starred in the critically acclaimed French movie JCVD, featuring a relatively famous monologue in which Van Damme (or rather, his character) discusses the very relevant issues of fame and addiction.
While this show won’t be too great of a departure from Van Damme’s normal acting repertoire (his last few films have included The Expendables 2, Universal Soldier, Sudden Death, and voice roles in the Kung Fu Panda series), this will be the first time Van Damme is trying to small screen. And who knows — maybe Amazon will be able to revive his career.