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Rising Star Dominiquie Vandenberg: “Never take yourself to serious.”

I would encourage young people to get involved with physical activities like martial arts or any other sports in schools and communities. When I was growing up dealing with my brother’s death and awkward teenagehood, martial arts saved my life and many other friends’ lives. My gym was my second home. Nowadays, kids are spending […]

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I would encourage young people to get involved with physical activities like martial arts or any other sports in schools and communities. When I was growing up dealing with my brother’s death and awkward teenagehood, martial arts saved my life and many other friends’ lives. My gym was my second home. Nowadays, kids are spending too much of their time on social media. Schools became the only social interaction place for children… but many of them have difficult time in schools feeling judged with their appearances and personality. Not only playing sports is great for body and mind but also it creates a secondary community that people can always count on.


Ihad the pleasure to interview Dominiquie Vandenberg. Starring in the award winning indie film The Honorable (2002) helped Dominiquie win the lead role in a series of Timex spots for director Tim Burton. Shortly afterward he was hired to train and teach Leonardo Di Caprio in antique knife fighting techniques for Martin Scorsese’s Gangs of New York (2002). Whilst in Italy filming, Dominiquie won the role of “Tommy” in Di Caprio’s “Dead Rabbits” gang. The terrific press and publicity generated by the relentless and brutal nature of the fight sequences garnered great interest in him. He was hired by Regent Entertainment, producers of the Oscar nominated film, Gods and Monsters, to play the title role in their super violent martial arts picture, Pit Fighter (2004). It will be distributed domestically by 20th Century Fox. Dominiquie’s latest film is The Mercenary, an action film featuring a character he created, now on DVD and Digital from Uncork’d Entertainment.


Thank you so much for doing this with us Dominiquie! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

Thank you for giving me a platform to promote my film, The Mercenary. I really appreciate it. I grew up in a middle class family in a small village in Belgium.

A safe place where everybody knew each other and people felt like they were part of the community. The people in the village could go to sleep with their car keys in the ignition and the doors unlocked at night without having to worry about anyone stealing anything. I spent many of my childhood days on my grandmother’s farm playing Spiderman and Zorro.

Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?

I was a super hyper kid and my parents had the common sense to enroll me in sports instead of giving me meds like many parents do to their kids today.

I fell in love with martials arts. My fist art was judo which I began practicing at age 4 then Greco Roman wrestling followed at age 8.

I began karate training at 9 and later Muay Thai boxing, Savate, Dutch style kickboxing and many different full-contact Karate styles. I always felt like I was born with a warrior spirit that needed to be lived to the fullest and Belgium became too small and confined for that.

I liked competing in combat sports but something was missing. I wanted to experience real wars and life and death. By age 19, I had joined the French Foreign Legion and I served for 5 years in the 2 REP, the only Foreign Legions Airborne and Para Commando Regiment that is also special forces trained and is the spearhead schocktroop for NATO.

When I finished my legion contract after the intervention with the 4 com s/4 in Rwanda, I became an independent soldier. After the war in the former Yugoslavia, I was tired of the cataclysm of war and was tired of living by the sword. Soon after, I moved to Thailand and lived in a boxing camp for over 2 years.

Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

My career in the movie industry began by a random chance really… when I was training at the Jet center in LA. A casting lady for the film, Mortal Kombat, came by to scout for fighters or Martial artists. I always wanted to do something creative and had a deep passion for film so when they asked me to come in and audition for one of the parts I jumped on it. At that point in my life, I had no clue that I would be coordinating all the fight scenes and also play a part in Gangs of New York for the legendary filmmaker Martin Scorssese.

Marty was the one that told me I had charisma and should give acting a try.

Since then I have worked with David Lynch, Tim Burton, Robert Zemeckies and Jesse V. Johnson who is one of the best action film directors in Hollywood right now.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I was too trustworthy of people and picked up the bills for lunch and dinner meetings all the time. Most of the people were just bullshitters, I realized that later. Legit directors or producers who want to work with you most likely they will pick up the bill.

It is easy to check now on the internet if someone is the real deal. When I started off my career, there was no online information and anyone with a business card with producer written on it and can talk a good game could fool you.

Never believe what you hear in Hollywood and even question things you see with your own eyes.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

Currently I am writing the Mercenary aka Legion Maxx part 2. I also just finished a poetry book called Beast about Warrior Death poems. I am also an executive board member at Magic Leap Studios where I might develop my Sensei Mouse comic book.

We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?

1. The more diverse your cast is the more different groups of people will be able to enjoy it.

2. Without knowing it, we will get to learn about different cultures through art and have an easier acceptance to what might seem strange before.

3 Until I became a father, I really did not give a thought on diversity but I think it is important for our children to know there is no limitation on what they can do.

Diversity is good if it’s done right but you cannot force it on people or just hire people because of what color their skin is. You want the most skilled person to get the job done. That’s why it’s so challenging…

The French Foreign Legion is probably the best social experiment out there when it comes to diversity having people from 150 different countries serving as warrior brothers together. I never judge people by their race, religion or culture but by the content of their character.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

1. Life is not always about what there is to gain.

2. Life is about learning wisdom to pass on through age and circumstance.

3. The meaning of life is what you make of it.

4. By the activities and actions you take and find your purpose in the short time you have.

5. Follow your dreams no matter what they are and how impossible they seem.

Since I began my career back in the 90’s, I always wanted to make an action film that resemble the films that I watched as a kid like Hard Times and Seven Samurai. We have so many big budget Hollywood films that are based on comics. I decided to fund my own film and do it the way I wanted even though it was a risk-taking adventure. I finally did it after trying for so long. Last breath I take on this earth, I know I never held back.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

Never take yourself to serious.

Always have an open mind willing to learn and work hard because the universe will respond accordingly to whatever work you put in.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would encourage young people to get involved with physical activities like martial arts or any other sports in schools and communities. When I was growing up dealing with my brother’s death and awkward teenagehood, martial arts saved my life and many other friends’ lives. My gym was my second home. Nowadays, kids are spending too much of their time on social media. Schools became the only social interaction place for children… but many of them have difficult time in schools feeling judged with their appearances and personality. Not only playing sports is great for body and mind but also it creates a secondary community that people can always count on.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I had so many people that helped me… it would take pages to mention them all. But if I must pick one person, my american father Don Hollingshead, believed in me from the beginning and helped me along the way .

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

A warrior should never die without using his weapons to the fullest of their ability. I apply that to everything I undertake in life.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

There are many I can think of… but on the top of my head, I would say Noam Chomsky and Clint Eastwood who I would pitch my script “The Forever War” to. It is a cool story of a Holocaust survivor who joins the French foreign legion to find the Nazi that murdered his family.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

On Facebook @dominiquievandenbergofficial

On Youtube Subscribe: D Legionnaire

This was very meaningful, thank you so much!

Thank you for this opportunity. Please check out The Mercenary if you like a good action film! I promise it will not disappoint you.

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