In the early 1990s, Street Fighter II was the hottest video game in the world, which of course meant that a Street Fighter movie had to be made to capitalize on the popularity of the game. The big screen adaptation was written and directed by Steven de Souza, the man behind Die Hard and Commando. The production took place in Thailand as well as Australia and was plagued with problems from the very beginning, including inflated budgets from bringing in Jean-Claude Van Damme and Raul Julia. Van Damme proved to be one of the biggest obstacles in getting the Street Fighter movie completed, thanks to a massive ego and raging cocaine habit.
In a new interview, Steven de Souza described the process of trying to get the Street Fighter movie completed and revealed that Jean-Claude Van Damme would often miss days of filming due to a nasty cocaine habit that is rumored to have been 10 grams a day, which comes out to about $10,000 a week. At the time, Van Damme was one of the biggest action stars in the world, and could command high salaries that would allow him to purchase a lot of drugs.
Steven de Souza says that they ended up having to get Jean-Claude Van Damme a handler on the set of Street Fighter to try and keep the actor on track. However, the handler proved to be an even worse influence on Van Damme, which later saw the actor trying to bring champagne on the set while filming. Van Damme was absent so much that the director had to try and figure out how to shoot other scenes while he was away. Steven de Souza explains.
"I couldn't talk about it at the time, but I can now: Jean-Claude was coked out of his mind. The studio had hired a wrangler to take care of him, but unfortunately the wrangler himself was a bad influence. Jean-Claude was calling in sick so much I had to keep looking through the script to find something else to film; I couldn't just sit around for hours waiting for him. On two occasions, the producers allowed him to go to Hong Kong, and both occasions he came back late - on Mondays he just wasn't there at all."
Jean-Claude Van Damme had the presidential suite at the hotel where all of the actors in Street Fighter were staying in Thailand. He had a gym installed and would be late to the set saying, "I have to pump up my muscles!" In reality, the action star was lifting weights and snorting a lot of cocaine, which wasn't mixing well with his already out-of-control ego. It's also been reported that Van Damme would take forever to get his parts right, and would only emerge from his trailer until exactly when he was needed.
While Jean-Claude Van Damme was trouble on the set of the Street Fighter movie, he was not the only problem that plagued the production. Because of budgeting issues, the other actors weren't trained for the fighting scenes often until the day of the scene, which was potentially hazardous. Additionally, if the studio was giving Steven de Souza a hard time about the length of the shoot, he'd simply pick a page at random out of the script and tear it out. You can read more about the fascinating tale behind getting Street Fighter to the big screen over at The Guardian.