Alain Moussi is one of Hollywood’s most in-demand stuntmen. Having done stunt double work in films like Immortals, X-Men: Apocalypse and Suicide Squad, he’s making the transition to leading man in the new film Kickboxer:Vengeance. I caught up with him to talk about learning from the industry’s best and making the leap to being a principle actor.
What drew you to stunt work initially?
I wanted to get into film growing up, but coming from Ottawa, I didn’t know how. A friend from Montreal got into it before I did and that’s how I found my way to it. Being a martial artist almost my entire life, doing stunt work or fight choreography was the best way into the industry. I figured that once I was in, I could make my way toward acting later on. When they were prepping the film Immortals, I was introduced to the fight coordinator by one of my friends. While we were training, he was doing the fight concepts for Immortals. He used me to play the hero since I was the same size and build as Henry Cavill, and that got the stunt coordinator’s attention. They asked me to play Henry’s double and that became my first credit. Working on a huge blockbuster for six months was an incredible experience and that drew me into film making.
You’ve stepped in for Hollywood heavyweights – what has that taught you about the craft of acting?
My end goal was to act so instead of going to my trailer to sleep between scenes, I would stay close to the set and watch the actors work as much as I could. I watched Travis Fimmel on Warcraft, Margo Robbie, Will Smith and Jared Leto on Suicide Squad, and Hugh Jackman as Wolverine. Hugh is one of my favorite actors of all time and for a few days, I loved getting to observe him work. It made me realize how much of a craft acting is. I really saw how much these people were working to create these characters and stay true to them. It made me want to work harder.
Stepping in front of the camera, how has your prep work changed?
I prepped for five months for Kickboxer: Vengeance. I had a trainer and he had me read a lot of poetry. He wanted me to see certain things in three dimensions since poetry can mean so many different things. On some poems, you could stay focused on a single line because it could be interpreted so many ways. That’s how you want to see a script, from many angles based on the character. It keeps it fresh and that helped me so much.
You idolized Jean-Claude Van Damme and now you’re reprising a role played by him. How do you get out of your head and really embrace the character, not the actor who played him?
I’ve seen the original Kickboxer film dozens of times, but I stepped away from it totally when I was preparing for this movie. I never considered what he did in the original. I spent time discussing the story and character with the director and I tried not to compare myself to the original at all. My approach was to find this character in my shoes, not his. I put as much of me into that character and by doing that, it makes him unique from the original. It also makes this story unique.
We finished Kickboxer: Retaliation and we are on our way to make Kickboxer 3. Everything was greenlit so fast. I have two other projects in development for next year as well, things that aren’t just martial arts based but are more action/adventure films. I think next year is going to be a very exciting year.