Olivier Gruner - Interview [2010]

Olivier I have to tell you that my birthday is the day after yours.
Olivier Gruner: No way!

First I want to say that you are one of the most remarkable men in the whole world because of all your accomplishments. Did you always have so much ambition?
Olivier Gruner: Actually I think it starts when you're a kid. Things happen when you are very young. It's funny because one day I came back to my Dad's house and said, "Hey Dad I got a 15 out of 20." That is pretty good in French. I was not very good at spelling in French. I always misspelled different words. I had a problem with that so when I came home one day with 15 out of 20 I was excited. I gave it to my Dad and he said, "Ah, you could do better." So I thought OK...I can do better. The next time I came back I had 19 out of 20! I'm all excited and said, "Dad look at that!!!" He said, "How come you didn't get 20?" (laughing) I said, "Come on Dad!"

Was he serious?
Olivier Gruner: He was a cool man. He was only joking, but in my subconscious I thought I had to be perfect in everything I do.

How do you approach life?
Olivier Gruner: I think life is an adventure. As soon as you accomplish something and you are on top the only thing you can do is go down at this point. When I became a champ I decided I was done with that. Let's move onto something else so I moved on to the movie industry.

Is it what you thought it would be?
Olivier Gruner: As you know the movie industry is very hard and very tough. It's very competitive and it's always about relationships. So even if you are really good at what you do, if you don't have the right attitude you can get burned. There's a lot of things going on and it's kind of weird. So after 37 films and 5 TV series I think I have accomplished what I wanted to do.

What's left for you to do?
Olivier Gruner: There is one thing I've never done and that is to produce my own film from start to finish. I mean direct it and star in it, everything. This is the first time I have done that. We started seven months ago and we just finished the film titled 'One Night.' I'm so happy with it and I'm so excited. That is really a huge accomplishment. It went from my brain to writing to making images and we watched it last night. It was a big celebration and we are really happy.

When will it be released?
Olivier Gruner: We are fixing a couple things because I am a perfectionist, but pretty soon actually.

Will it go straight to DVD?
Olivier Gruner: We are going to try to release it in the theaters first. That's how good it is, but then again it's politics. If there are a lot of big films coming at the same time they will pull mine out. That's the way it is. It will be on TV definitely.

You have a worldwide audience however. Do you know where you're the most popular?
Olivier Gruner: I really don't know. Sometimes we go to different countries. I went to the Eastern block and I couldn't walk down the street. Sometimes I go to France and it's a little bit different. Maybe one out of a hundred people recognizes me. It's a little different everywhere. I thought my country would support me, but it's strange.

Well you are on the cover of all 37 boxes of your movies! I think you're doing ok! I know your father and one brother became doctors and your other brother became an engineer. Did you feel like the odd one?
Olivier Gruner: Actually no. My Dad was living the adventure with me. It was really cool. I was in the Navy first and I did some special operations in Africa but I couldn't talk about it. He was living the adventure with me so he was always supportive of what I did except for fighting. He didn't like that. That's the only thing he didn't agree with.

Did you ever get hurt in the ring?
Olivier Gruner: Yes all the time.

Do you still feel pain?
Olivier Gruner: That's the thing. It's funny because we notice in mixed martial arts, which is what I teach, the level of fighting went to another notch. Before it was kick boxing and now we do wrestling and a mix of everything. We found out that every time you get hurt and feel pain the body sends that signal to your brain and your brain analyzes it and tells you right away in a split moment if it's important or not. If you touch something hot right away you react to it. Now if you are used to touching something hot the body will get used to it which means the signal is so different. We found out that to condition your shin for kicking you have to develop a pain tolerance so when you do that over and over the brain doesn't react anymore. The brain thinks it's normal. That's why sometimes you have a toothache for days and then you don't feel it anymore. The brain tells you it's not an emergency.

Do you still do all the things you learned in military training like scuba diving and sky diving routinely?
Olivier Gruner: Not routinely. Like with sky diving I'm kind of tired of it. I do take my son to the wind tunnel.

You mean in Las Vegas?
Olivier Gruner: Yes they have one in Vegas but they have one here at Universal Studio.

Really I didn't know that.
Olivier Gruner: It's so cool. It's glass so you can see everything.

You have a son. Do you have more children?
Olivier Gruner: No, only one boy who is six years old. I do still fly helicopters. That's a big part of my life. I flew for Blue Hawaiian in Hawaii where I did tours. I was flying on the big island and I flew in the Grand Canyon. I worked for ABC News here in Los Angeles where I did the chase videos.

I think you are a world movie star, besides being a world champion in so many things. Do you live in California?
Olivier Gruner: Yes I live in Santa Monica and Las Vegas. My mixed martial arts is really important to me. I do everything now so when I film I can show that I am really doing the real thing! That's why it's really important for me to train with the UFC guys.

I bet you enjoyed filming your TV show, 'The Pros.'
Olivier Gruner: It was on NBC but then they put it on the shelf so that's it.

What is your goal in terms of future films?
Olivier Gruner: My goal is to do exactly what I did with 'One Night' and that is to produce my films so I can control the quality. I don't want my fans to be disappointed with my films and sometimes you do not have control. It's not really your fault. You do the best work that you can but sometimes things happen. I can't afford that anymore. I want to make sure that when we shoot a film and release it, that it's a good film.

You've worked with quite a few stars in your movies.
Olivier Gruner: Oh yes like John Ritter, Gary Busey, David Carradine, Eric Roberts and many more.

Was directing natural for you?
Olivier Gruner: Yes the main thing is when you look at the screen you know if you have it or don't have it. When you do the editing if it doesn't cut you know you've made a mistake. So from my experience with other directors you watch them and you learn. It really made a big difference.

I bet it's a lot more satisfying for you to watch the final film.
Olivier Gruner: It's no comparison. It's so different and exciting!

I can't wait to see 'One Night.' It's going to be exciting to see something you have created yourself.
Olivier Gruner: Thank you so much!