Interview: Todd Senofonte talks about work on Robert Tai's Iron Bodyguards, stuntwork on Van Damme films, and current roles
A promo shot of Todd Senofonte, taken on the set of Jean Claude Van Damme's adventure epic, Legionnaire. Used with kind permission of Todd Senofonte.
Knight: One of my favourite Jean Claude Van Damme films -- perhaps because it is many people's least favourite and I can be contrary, but also because it was so different than most of what he had done up to that time -- is Legionnaire (1998), a straightforward adventure movie patterned after the old classic movies, which Van Damme co-wrote/co-produced. Was that a different shoot to be involved in, with the foreign locations?
Senofonte: This was one movie that I thought would be in the theaters. It is one of my favorites. It was a difficult shoot being in the desert in Morocco. I experienced my first sand storm when we were filming. A sand storm is a scary sight; you look straight ahead and it is clear, you look behind you and it's a black cloud coming right at ya... RUN FOR COVER!
Knight: Were you just involved in the hand-to-hand fight scenes in Legionnaire, or were you also working in the battlefield scenes?
Senofonte: I was involved in everything.
Knight: Universal Soldier: The Return (1999) was another Jean Claude Van Damme film you worked on. A lot of people thought Michael Jai White was impressive in his role, giving Jean Claude Van Damme a worthy villain to fight. What did you feel about Michael Jai White's involvement and his skills?
Senofonte: To this date, Michael is the best martial artist I have worked with. I am waiting for him to return my emails so we can work together again.
Knight: I don't think a lot of people know you were in the cast of some of the Power Rangers shows (2001, 2002). That must have been a change of pace from your previous work?
Senofonte: It was cool to work on a t.v. series as one of the Silver Guardians.
Knight: You played a comedic role in Kung Phooey! (2003) as 'Jean Fraud Croissant' which I thought was an hysterical performance, but I have always wondered how you handled the role. Did you ask Jean Claude Van Damme if it was okay to take a role that was a parody of his action hero roles?
Senofonte: No, there was no reason to ask permission to play that role. I got that role through a stunt buddy of mine. He gave the director Darryl Fong my info and I told him, sure, that sounds like fun. There is talk about a sequel, but it's just talk as of now.
Knight: The last Van Damme movie you worked on was Until Death (2007)... Perhaps his best film at that time since Wake Of Death (2004), I think. His acting was clearly so much improved and genuinely intense. Was there any feeling among the cast and crew that there was something seriously right about what they were all working on?
Senofonte: It was a great role for Jean-Claude. He was focused and really on his dialouge. The cast was awesome. I am probably the only stunt double that actually likes to read lines with the actors. I was told by them that it helped so much when Van Damme came on set and did the scene... Made me feel real good that I could help them nail their scenes.
Knight: Out of all the films you worked on with Jean Cladue Van Damme, can I ask if you have one that is a favourite of yours?
Senofonte: I have many favorites, but the top of my list is Maximum Risk (1996). But all are special because I have different memories. I still have nightmares of the tiger chasing me in Double Team (1997)... I try to stay away from zoos these days... Hahaha.
Todd Senofonte, as stunt double for Jean Claude Van Damme, being chased by a tiger from the film, Double Team. Used with kind permission of Todd Senofonte.