Former two-division UFC champion Georges St-Pierre is starting to feel nerves again but not because he’s preparing for his return to the octagon.
Instead, the 39-year-old Canadian is preparing to see himself on screen again after filming scenes for the upcoming Marvel series “Falcon and Winter Soldier,” which debuts on Disney+ on March 19.
This will be the second time St-Pierre has appeared in a Marvel production after he previously portrayed Georges Batroc aka “Batroc the Leaper” in the 2014 film “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.” For that film, St-Pierre was mostly preparing for a fight scene opposite Chris Evans but this time around he actually got the chance to stretch his acting muscles a little bit more plus now he actually has more time to dedicate to his new profession.
“I have more screen time and my character has more to do with the story. It was a lot of fun for me,” St-Pierre told the Complex Sports podcast.
“The thing is when I did ‘The Winter Soldier’ the first time, I was focusing on my fighting career. Now I really took a lot of time into this. I put a lot of time into prep because I knew I had a lot more screen time. I’m taking this serious, just as seriously as I used to take martial arts when I was competing. I’m sure the fans will love the whole story of it.”
St-Pierre, who retired from active competition back in 2019, was always known as one of the hardest working fighters in all of mixed martial arts, which helped him produce one of the most legendary careers in the history of the sport.
While he’s obviously taking a lot less punches now, St-Pierre admits there are a lot of similarities between acting and fighting now that he’s put some time into both endeavors.
“One [similarity] is the most obvious one is every time I was walking towards the octagon to compete I was terrified. I was very uncomfortable. I was extremely nervous,” St-Pierre revealed. “But I was acting like I was very confident, very excited and happy to be there but it was totally the opposite. Like in fighting, acting requires a lot of repetition, a lot of preparation. In fighting, you do a lot of those as well and very often when you fight, you find out your opponent is never as good as you think he is and he’s never as bad as you think he is as well. It’s always different.
“Acting is the same thing. You can rehearse a scene as much as you want but when you get on set, you always find out that it’s totally different from what you’re expecting. The set is different. The reaction of the actor who you’re playing is different. You need to be like Bruce Lee said — be like water, my friend. You need to be ready to adapt. I believe the best actors and the best fighters are the ones that can adapt the most.”
For all the nerves he’s felt since transitioning to acting, St-Pierre says it still doesn’t really compare to the emotional turmoil he faced before a fight.
“Of course I’m way more nervous walking into a fight because you have a lot more to lose,” St-Pierre explained. “It’s not the worst thing but you can ruin your name for sure if you do something bad. But if you miss it, you just do it again until it’s good.
“In fighting, you only get one take. If you zig when you should zag — boom! It can cost you not only a loss but it can cost you obviously cerebral damage. Damage that can cause your death. It’s very dangerous. You say ‘I play basketball, I play hockey’ but you don’t play fighting. It’s not a game. It’s a sport but it’s more than a game. It’s a different kind of thing.”
Despite all of the success he attained during his career, St-Pierre admits now that he never actually enjoyed fighting all that much.
In fact, to hear him tell it, he actually hated the sport but there was something that just kept bringing him back again and again and again.
“I guess some guys are really happy to be there but I never really liked to fight to tell you the truth,” St-Pierre said. “I liked to win. I was just, I guess, blessed with good talent and I was able to exploit it and I met incredible mentors throughout my life. But before a fight, if I could click my fingers like this and make it in a way that I was after the fight, I would do it every single time.
“I don’t like the fighting. I hate it. It’s unbearable. The feeling of stress. Not knowing if you will be humiliated or you might get hurt. It’s so hard. But when you win a fight, it’s really worth it. The bigger the risk, the bigger the reward. So that’s why I did it. Not because I love to fight. I love to win.”
Of course, fighting also afforded St-Pierre a better life thanks to his incredible success where he not only conquered two divisions in the UFC but he was one of the biggest superstars in the sport. That allowed St-Pierre to become wealthy and independent, which is something he values very much.
“I was obviously very successful at it, the money, everything it brings me, the access to things that most people don’t have and the freedom when you’re a professional athlete,” St-Pierre said. “You’re free. If you train hard and you make all the sacrifices, you will have better result than if you’re lazy and don’t do your job well. That’s what I like about it.”