In the build-up to our screening of STREET FIGHTER at Kongs of Kings Street, we talk to some of the cast and crew about their experiences making this infamous film. We were fortunate to be able to put some questions to Grand L. Bush – a.k.a Balrog!
Grand L. Bush is a familiar face to many fans of 80s action cinema. Most famously, he was one of the two Agent Johnsons in Die Hard, but he also appeared in the likes of Lethal Weapon, Lethal Weapon 2, Maniac Cop III, Demolition Man and the James Bond film Licence To Kill.
Although he officially retired from acting in 2003 to study medicine (and graduated from medical school in 2010), Grand was incredibly gracious by not just answering our questions, but doing so in the form of a video (which you can also watch below).
Street Fighter was directed by Steven E De Sousa, who wrote Die Hard. You famously played Agent Johnson in that film, so how did you end up getting the role of Balrog? Did Steven approach you? Vice versa or was it simply a case of auditioning?
During the early spring of 1994, Universal Studios called my agency saying a film adaptation based on the incredibly popular computer game Street Fighter was in the works. The casting director wanted me to come in and read for one of the major roles – I did.
That’s when I met Steven E. DeSouza for the very first time. The next thing I knew, I’d landed the gig and my transformation into Balrog The Ferocious started straight away.
I enjoyed working with Steven. His intelligence is only exceeded by his kindness and generosity. When DeSouza learnt that my wife was an acclaimed journalist, he put her to work. In both Bangkok and Australia, he provided jobs for an army of artisans.
Is it true that for your training, you “ran each day through the polluted streets of Bangkok, Thailand, in 90-degree weather and lost 15 pounds in a single month”?
My physical development fell under the watchful eye of kickboxing champion Benny “The Jet” Urquidez (Roadhouse, Grosse Pointe Blank, Wheels on Meals). Before leaving the States, I worked out at his gym in North Hollywood for a whole month. We spent four more weeks running up and down the streets of Bangkok battling through stifling heat and walls of pollution.
We jogged and sprinted for more than three kilometers each day, energised by body-building shakes, a healthy diet and a desire to reach one goal – to create a lean, mean fighting machine.
Yes, it was in exotic Bangkok where I lost more than one stone in body weight within 30 days and by the time we left for Australia, for two more months of filming I had indeed become Balrog personified.
What do you think of the film these days and are you surprised that it still has a cult following?
Even when Street Fighter was being developed, it came to the drawing board with a huge ready-made fan base, so I’ve always known that it was destined to become a cult classic and I’m honoured that its popularity continues to be re-invented.
And as for Balrog, the incomparable character I bought to the silver screen? He’s been immortalised! What that means, is that as long as there are dedicated Street Fighter enthusiasts like yourselves to continue to click that ‘Play’ button, and gather to celebrate this commercially-successful film, my image lives on.
Game not over – and for that, I remain eternally grateful.
Grand L. Bush, thank you for your time.