I recently got the chance to talk to Youval Kuipers about his role in ‘Amsterdam Heavy’. Here, Youval talks about what it was like working with Rik Sinkeldam, and about his love for historical martial arts…
Hey Youval. Thanks for taking the time out to talk to me. ‘Amsterdam Heavy’ is currently in cinemas right now…
What’s the general plotline surrounding the film?
‘Amsterdam Heavy’ is about a man, JD – (played by Rik Sinkeldam), punching, kicking and shooting his way through the red lighted underworld of Amsterdam in search of truth and vengeance.
Tell us a bit about the character you play in the movie…I hear you’re also a stunt performer as well in the film?
I play one of the unlucky bastards who tries to stand in JD’s way. Me and my punk colleague (played by Ali Sultan) kindly ask for JD’s phone and cash as he’s jogging towards Amsterdam, but all we get is a close encounter with his fists and feet.
The punk fight is a great gritty scene in which we see JD kicking ass for the first time, so as the receiving end, our fight choreography was all about taking blow after blow after blow as the JD truck came crashing down on us. Rik really made us believe it. Fury in his eyes and all! It was great fun.
How did you get involved in the project in the first place?
I met Rik Sinkeldam on the set of the short ‘Click’. Later, when I heard he was looking for stunt teams for ‘Amsterdam Heavy’, I introduced him to my Historical European Martial Arts team: “de Orde der Noorderwind”. Though we specialize in historical weaponry, Rik was impressed by our fighting style and we got on board to develop the choreography for the fight in the kitchen of the China Fantasy. So most of the knife combat in that scene comes from 15th century European dagger fighting.
How would you say this film is different from other action films?
The movie industry in the Netherlands is rather limited in its genres. Action films are a rarity, and especially those of ‘Amsterdam Heavy’’s caliber. So getting the funds together to make a Dutch action movie is an adventure in its own right. And if you realize what we were able to accomplish with a relatively tiny budget, I think we did a fantastic job.
The film stars Michael Madsen, Alison Carroll, Vincent Van Ommen, Galyna Kyyashko and your good self – what was it like working with the cast and crew on-set?
It was a pleasure to work with Rik in preparation of the fight scenes. Me and my team would have certain ideas and we were always able to mix this well with his.
On set, the atmosphere was always great. You really got this feeling that you were part of one big ambitious family. I got to work with Alison as fight co-ordinator for the kitchen scene, and I must say, for all her on-screen bad-assery, she’s the sweetest girl in real life! Always concerned about the wellbeing of the stunt guys she was tossing around the place.
Unfortunately I didn’t get any scenes with Michael Madsen, but it’s great to share a screen with the man nonetheless.
Let’s talk a bit about you Youval. What made you want to get into acting in the first place?
As a kid, I was always drawn to imaginary worlds I experienced through books, video games and movies. They just seemed so much more intense and epic than the real world. I couldn’t stop dreaming about being part of them. Of course, once I started making movies I found out it was all a big fat lie, but the desire for playing a part in those stories never entirely left me.
It is not until I started training historical martial arts that I picked up acting more seriously. At Noorderwind, we believe entertainment is the best way to reach a great amount of people and show them an authentic European fighting style they have never seen before. After producing and performing many live combat shows, film was the next step. Historical weapon masters have reached us by writing down their knowledge in combat manuals. Now we are bringing that heritage to the big screen.
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to get into acting?
It would be the same I say to anyone about to begin something new: ‘Live life like you want to live it. If acting is your dream, live your dream. Give it your best, be prepared to wander off the trodden path and eventually good things will come to you.’
What is currently on your I-Pod right now?
I’m not much of an Apple person, but I love listening to music from films and PC-games. Right now I have the soundtracks of ‘Tron’, ‘Battlestar Galactica;, ‘Kingdom Of Heaven’ and ‘Assassin’s Creed 2’ on my phone. And an episode of ‘Game of Thrones’…that has got to be the best show I’ve seen in years!
If you could have a dinner with three historical guests, living or dead – who would they be and why?
- Joannes Liechtenauer, a legendary 14th century fencing master and father to the German long sword fencing tradition. To receive even one teaching from this man would be priceless.
- King David. To me, David has always been one of the most interesting biblical figures and who wouldn’t want to dine with a king?
- Peter Jackson, 20 years ago. I would tell him: Peter, one day you’re going to make one of the most legendary film trilogies of all time. But… it’ll only work if you give me a role. Of course, he’d have to take it from an 8-year-old, so my chances would still be slim.
What has been the most interesting piece of local / national news you’ve heard in the last month or so?
Holland’s oldest citizen lived to 115 and remarkably without any memory problems. Recent genetic research indicates that she might have had some exceptional genes which protected her from age related brain illness. It is hoped that further study will give more insight into treating diseases like Alzheimer’s. I always say that by the time our generation gets old, there’ll be technology around to make our final years on this world a little more enjoyable. I hope studies like this will save us from the old people’s storing facilities.
What’s coming up for you in 2011/12?
I’ve just returned from filming a reality show in South Africa which will air very soon. Earlier this year I’ve finished working on ‘Magistratus Overtura’, which is an amazing Dutch fantasy thriller from Thijs Meuwese and Kris Patmo. It will have its premiere at the Dutch Film Festival 2012, so stay tuned! As for coming projects, all I’ll say for now is that the seeds have been sown…rendezvous in 2012?
Thanks for the interview!