UNDISPUTED BUSHIDO: An Interview With Actor And Martial Artist Emilien De Falco
It was back around late 2012 or early 2013 – likely the latter – that I began following actor and martial artist, up-and-comer Emilien De Falco. By then to my knowledge I had spotted him in at least one action short with a group of stunties out West while in actuality, he had already accrued some notable TV and film credits.
Emilien DeFalco: Thank you for having me! This year has been great – I just got back to California after a two month trip overseas mixing work and vacationing. Apart from that, I also spent most of my time training and focusing on both my personal and professional goals. I can’t talk more about it now but some good stuff is on the way.
EDF: Well to be short, I was born and raised in the small town of Millau in the south of France. I started practicing Taekwondo when I was 7 years old and it quickly became my passion, and to this day, I have never stopped practicing.
I grew up watching martial arts and action movies starring Bruce Lee, JCVD, Schwarzenegger and Stallone. They all had a huge impact on me. Very early on I dreamt of coming to America and starring in action and martial arts movies. A few years later, I dropped out of college and decided to move to Los Angeles without any connections nor papers, and I was barely able to speak English.
The initial years were kind of rough, but eventually due to my previous work in movies and entertainment back home, I was able to get an artist visa. After I moved to L.A. and booked different kinds of gigs, I worked as a sports and fitness model, a TV host for a martial arts channel and as a stunt double for JCVD. In the last three years I finally got to work more and more as an actor and specifically as action actor first getting a small but recurring role on a Crossbones. More supporting roles came after that on action and sci-fi movies like Titus Paar’s The Perfect Weapon, V.R. and Boyka: Undisputed 4. This has now become my main focus and working on getting bigger roles.
EDF: I love physical activities and fitness training as much as I love martial arts. To be very honest, at first, I was not into social media at all until one day when I posted one of my training sessions. It got shared by many people and I started receiving messages from both friends and strangers telling me how motivated and inspired they felt to workout and train after seeing it.
I then remembered that when I was younger I got inspired to start training after watching training sequences on TV and the huge impact it has had on me, so it became incentive for me to engage more and post more online. I think having a positive influence on people and showing them that you can really achieve your personal and professional goal if you focus and work hard is one of my main goals in life.
EDF: I like to mix it up. I constantly change my work out routines to shock my body. I would work with heavy weights for a while before switching to plyometrics and calisthenics. That said, my main focus is to maintain and improve my explosive power. I weight between 195lbs and 205 lbs (87 kg and 93 kg) which is kind of heavy to perform a lot of gravity-defying acrobatic kicks like 720s, corkscrews and 900s. Most guys who are doing those kicks and tricks are much lighter and you would need more explosive power to perform them at a heavier weight.
Also, to get into shape for, let’s say, a fight scene or a full action sequence, I believe the best way to workout is in the form of circuit training or interval training. It will reproduce the explosive and fast combinations that you will repeatedly perform in an action scene and get your cardiovascular system ready for it. To spice things up and challenge myself, I like to add flips and intricate moves in my circuit training. For example: instead of doing regular burpees and tuck jumps, I would do backflip-burpees, lift a heavier tire before flipping from it and then go to the next exercise. It’s also much more fun and I feel like kid when training like that.
FCSyndicate: I looked at your IMDb page and it said you did some stuntwork for Banlieue 13: Ultimatum with Cyril Raffaelli and David Belle. Was that the initial start of your career?
EDF: Yes, it was my first time on a big set.
EDF: I started following Cyril Raffaelli’s career after I saw him in Kiss Of The Dragon in which he co-stars and also gets to fight Jet li. I was really impressed by the way he was kicking. His videos online were even more impressive and inspired me to learn acrobatics and improve my kicking abilities.
District B13 came out a few years later which was the consecration for both Cyril Raffaelli and David Belle who got their first lead role in a movie. Working as à stunt performer in the sequel of this cult movie felt really inspiring at the time even tho I was only performing minor stunts (getting kicked and punched by Cyril and maybe throwing a kick or two) it motivated me to keep chasing my dreams.
EDF: I’m not too sure I can answer that question. I see myself more as an action actor and athlete/martial artist than a stuntman who performs crazy stunts -At least that’s not what I am trying to pursue.
EDF: I was really honored to be chosen by Isaac Florentine to play the role of Viktor. I met Isaac in 2010 at an acting workshop. Back then he told me that he was going to call me for the right project and I didn’t really take him seriously at the time. Five years later he sends me an email saying he is considering me for the fourth film and asks me to send some materials. Once I booked the role and got to Bulgaria he said “…You see?! I told you we were going to work together!”. That was awesome and I was equally honored to work with Scott Adkins and Tim man who are at the top of their craft. As we speak they just won best action actor and best fight choreography for Boyka at the Jackie Chan action awards in Shanghai.
EDF: I won’t divulge too much but you can already sort of get the idea from the trailers. Viktor is Alma’s husband, as well as a fighter but he is also probably the “nicest guy” in the movie. He is fighting for a cause and to protect his wife. You can already tell he looks different than the other fighters: No crazy haircut or tattoos all over his body. He gets accidentally killed fighting Boyka who himself starts grieving and essentially questioning everything he stands for.
Viktor only appears once within the first act of the movie but also reappears in very short flashback sequences and images. The challenge was to find the right balance between Viktor being a decent opponent for Boyka and at the same time a character that the audience will like and care about. All that without any dialogue and within a five minutes window or so.
EDF: Not only he is a great choreographer but he is Also an amazing martial artist and overall human being. Very humble. He made everything work smoothly and it was very pleasing to work with him and his team.
What makes him different from so many choreographers is that he actually can do whatever he is asking you to do and he will do it on the spot. His work ethic is incredible. I am very pleased he gets more recognition with this award and that’s only the beginning I believe
|From L to R: Emilien De Falco, Tim Man, Scott Adkins|
FCSyndicate: Were there any time constraints or changes that needed to be made for the fight? Any ideas you three had in mind wherein you might have had to compromise?
EDF: We were actually able to do everything planned within the time frame. All credit to the choreography goes to Tim Man who worked on the beats and techniques beforehand and shot the previz with his stunt team. I just had to learn the choreography and do what I was told. Everything went pretty well.
EDF: Firstly, for those who are worried about the film because Isaac did not direct this time and fear that it might not carry the same spirit, just know that he did not give up on the franchise. I think he loves the character of Boyka and the Undisputed movies which are a great part of his career. He is very much involved in this opus as a producer and he’s put a lot of heart into it. Handing the authority to a younger and upcoming director can be a way to bring something new to the saga. I had a great time working with both and I think Isaac is very proud of this movie, and I cannot wait to hear what audiences think about it.
EDF: Definitely a milestone. Back in 2007 when I was still in college, I saw Undisputed 2: Last Man Standing and thought that I needed to have a part in a movie like that. And that’s exactly what happened a few years later. It means a lot to me as it shows that I am on the right path and the universe is giving me a positive response.
I still have a lot to learn and a long way to go but I am willing to put in the work and become a better actor, screenfighter and action performer.
EDF: Yep! My second time on the cover of the magazine, Karate Bushido which is the French equivalent of Black Belt Magazine in the U.S.. Karate Bushido is a magazine created in 1974, and is published monthly in every French speaking country.
When I was a kid growing up in France it was one of the only media to stay in touch with what’s going on in the martial arts world, (before the internet became what it is today). Every french martial arts practitioner who grew up in the 80s and 90s know what I am talking about.
For the anecdote, Karate Bushido also gave Jean-Claude Van Damme his first magazine cover when he was still an unknown martial artist. Being on the cover of KB might not be a great deal for many people but it is to me; I remember getting inspired by all the martial artists that I was reading about. Now that Karate Bushido trusts me enough to put me on the cover and share my training knowledge with their readers means that it is my turn to inspire young kids to keep practicing and to keep working on their goals. It is one of the main reasons why I am doing everything I am doing, to inspire and get inspired.
Waking up to being for the second time on the cover of the magazine I grew up reading… Se réveiller en étant pour la deuxième fois en couverture du magazine que je lis depuis l âge de 7 ans.. Thank you to Karate Bushido for the trust and support and @contentbyart @remytortosa for the amazing shot #demystifyingmychildhooddreams #karate @karatebushido #bushido #osu #oss #france #california #venicebeach #summer #fitness #martialarts #artsmartiaux #vandamme #frontkick #kickboxer #childhood #childhooddream #kickpics #gotkickpics #artsmartiaux #edition #inspiration #aptchagui #kickingit #taekwondo #passion #tkd #kickboxing #fighter #spirit #potd
EDF: Nope. My sister is not really into martial arts. I am kinda the martial arts pioneer in my family ?
EDF: I am definitely up for the challenge, but it has to be for the right project. I am receiving more and more messages from “fans” asking when I will finally play the lead in a feature so I want to make sure I don’t disappoint them. I went from being an extra to landing supporting roles in independent features, so a leading role in an independent film does not seem inaccessible to me. I am actually confident that something will happen sooner or later. That’s all I can say for now. ?
EDF: Hopefully one day, but I feel I have so much more to learn before I get to that point. I would probably start by directing short movies.
EDF: [Laughs] It depends of my mood. I don’t eat dairy on a regular basis and I have reduced my consumption of meat. However when it comes to cheating, I admit I love a hamburger/cheeseburger with sweet potato fries… and for the sweets I am a huge fan of Donuts ?
I also love ice cream, so I would have that all at the same time. I know it’s not original and very American.
EDF: Hahah for sure! I would love to go to New York I have not been in years. I love the energy there. Hopefully work will call me there one day or I will stop by on my way to Europe. Thanks for everything!
Native New Yorker. Lover of all things pizza, chocolate, pets, and good friends. Karaoke hero. Left of center. Survivor. Fond supporter of cult, obscure and independent cinema - especially fond of Asian movies and global action cinema. Author of the bi-weekly Hit List. Founder and editor of Film Combat Syndicate. Still, very much, only human.
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