Jean-Claude Van Damme thrust like Forrest Gump into the seat of Belgian prime minister? A role from which even Ronald Reagan or Arnold Schwarzenegger would surely have flinched – but this weekend, an all-too-real scenario facing the country’s decision-makers.
Now, Belgium’s favourite tough guy has lodged a formal request for permission to film key scenes for a new web-streaming, six-part TV series set in the the snake-pit of the country’s notoriously ungovernable Federal Parliament.
The chameleon-like martial arts and action movie star has previously scored big with audiences on returning to his home patch in Brussels’ trendy Chatelain quartier, when he played himself as the everyday hero caught up in an armed bank robbery in 2008’s hit ‘JCVD’.
The proposed series borrows from a real political crisis when Belgium beat even some of Africa’s most ruthless dictatorships in going 500 days without a functioning government – twice in the last 10 years.
Now current Prime Minister Alexander De Croo faces a tricky, popular dilemma as the country’s myriad, linguistic and ideological party groupings weigh the likely impact on their image following first formal talks among rival chiefs on whether to greenlight the production’s access.
Cloaking Van Damme with immense power as a near-royal ‘J-C I’, the series is scheduled for filming in Belgium this year and imagines that the premise that a fed-up King Philippe of Belgium asks the no-nonsense actor to bang everyone’s heads together.
Parliament Speaker Eliane Tillieux, who hails from the socialist wing of its sprawling ruling coalition, has asked the production company to give more plot details – with an RTBF source in the legislature saying “it’s a question of our image”.
The trailer alone is sure to spark no end of arguments in the country’s divided corridors of power.