Canadian mixed martial arts (MMA) champion Georges St-Pierre has dabbled in acting since 2009. But after appearing in 2014’s Marvel film, “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” St-Pierre is kicking it up at notch. He’s reprising his role as Georges Batroc in the Disney+ series, “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.” “I can’t share much,” said St-Pierre. “But I can tell you that I had more screen time and I am in more scenes then when I appeared in (the film).” His martial arts training has been helpful in his physically demanding roles, he said. “Karate made me gain confidence,” said the actor. “I believe you need confidence with everything you do. If you have skills to do something but no confidence, it is like someone who has a lot of money in his bank account but no way to access it. You need both for the magic to happen.”
Q: At first glance, it doesn't seem like acting is the next step for an MMA champion. But are there similarities that made it a natural transition for you?
A: Every time I walked in for a fight, I was terrified, nervous and extremely uncomfortable, but I was acting like I was excited, confident and happy to be there. I knew that I couldn’t show my opponent how I really felt inside. In preparation for a fight, we did a lot of repetitions. However, when the fight started, I realized quickly my opponent was never quite the same as I imagined. When we prepared for a scene in “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier,” we also did a lot of repetitions and it’s never exactly the same as I thought it would be. The setup is often different and the reactions of the other actors I was playing with could be different than I had prepared for. However, like Bruce Lee once said, you need to be like water. I believe the best fighters and the best actors are very good at adapting at any situation they are faced with.
Q: Do you remember the first time you traveled for a competition?
A: New York. At the time, I was 16 years old, broke, and I traveled alone and couldn’t speak English very well. I just got my driver’s license and I didn’t even know if my car was in good enough condition to make the trip. I even got lost at one point, but finally found my way back to where I was going, because some nice people gave me directions in Spanish. At the time, my Spanish was better than my English. It was all worth it, because I came back with a lot of new knowledge in Jiu Jitsu. I also learned a great lesson. In order to improve at something, sometimes you need to get out of your comfort zone.
Q: What is your favorite vacation destination?
A: My favorite trips ever were to Maasai Mara in Kenya for a safari. The experience was unreal. I also really loved when I went to Rwanda.
Q: What was the first trip you took as a child?
A: I went to Quebec with my school when I was a kid. It was a fun experience. There is a lot of great history there, beautiful sites and monuments.
Q: What are your five favorite cities?
A: Montréal, Miami, New York, Paris, Québec.
Q: Where would you like to go that you have never been to before?
A: Egypt to see the Great Sphinx of Giza and the pyramids. Turkey to see the Göbekli Tepe.
Peru to see the Machu Picchu architecture.
Q: What kind of research do you do before you go away on a trip?
A: I check for the best beaches, hotels, restaurants, archaeological and paleontological sites.
Q: Do you speak any foreign languages?
A: French is my native tongue, I speak English – not perfectly, but it’s getting better, a little bit of Portuguese and I can understand pretty good Spanish. When you speak a Latin language, it is easier to pick up the other ones, because it’s all similar.
Q: Where have you traveled to that most reminded you of home?
A: Stockholm, Sweden, because of the climate and people’s mentality.
(Jae-Ha Kim is a New York Times bestselling author and travel writer. You can respond to this column by visiting her website at www.jaehakim.com. You may also follow “Go Away With…” on Twitter at @GoAwayWithJae where Jae-Ha Kim welcomes your questions and comments.)
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