HOLLYWOOD -- All that stands between actor Jeff Wincott and stardom is getting somebody to release his movies to theaters. Wincott, a big, strong, handsome Canadian, has played the lead in 11 feature films. Trouble is they've all gone straight to video. Apparently that's because they weren't of a caliber esteemed by exhibitors and distributors. Perish the thought that Wincott is not star material. He is as rugged as the internal combustion engine. It's possible all 11 movies were intended for video to begin with. The titles are not the kind uttered at Academy Awards ceremonies: 'When the Bullet Hits the Bone,' 'Last Man Standing,' 'Street Law,' 'The Killing Man,' 'Open Fire' and such. By now a reasonable person might conclude that subtle shades of acting and sensitive love stories are not what Jeff Wincott is all about. He is not determined to wrest roles away from Tom Hanks or Woody Allen. He says frankly, 'My goal is to be the biggest motion picture action star in Hollywood.' It would be prudent, then, for the likes of Belgian-born Jean-Claude Van Damme and the ever physical Steven Seagal to watch over their shoulders. Once Wincott attains their stature it is possible he might set his sights on Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis. Wincott studied acting with Stella Adler and at the Juilliard School. More importantly, and keeping with his aspirations, he holds a black belt and the Canadian championship title in taekwondo and in karate 5th dan (whatever that means).
At lunch recently in the patio of the Beverly Hills Hotel, Wincott was dressed in appropriate apparel that in no way concealed his burgeoning physique. Very soon his three most recent films, 'When the Bullet Hits the Bone,' 'Last Man Standing' and 'No Exit,' will be released. 'The 'No Exit' film is not at all based on the Jean Paul Sartre play, too bad,' he said. 'They're all martial arts pictures. 'Stallone and Schwarzenegger don't do martial arts stuff. My philosophy is there's always room for someone who's good. 'Martial arts movies have become a standard genre. I don't see them fading out of popularity. Look at 'Mortal Kombat' this year. It's made more than $60 million. There's a big market out there for martial arts films.' Flashing a bit of humor, Wincott said, 'If I wasn't an actor, I'd be a cop. There's no question about it. I like stopping crime and eating donuts. 'I was destined to be a hero. I grew up on 'Superman' and 'Spiderman.' I had an affinity for cartoon characters. I was once a lifeguard.' Wincott works out daily, roars around on his Harley Davidson and lives a conservative bachelor life. As a kid in Toronto, Wincott learned to box from his father, who had been a prize fighter in England. The experience whetted his appetite for martial arts combat action. He gained his greatest notoriety as the star of 'Mission Justice' four years ago with Brigitte Nielsen, Stallone's statuesque ex-wife. At that time he was listed among the top 10 underrated action movie actors, along with Scott Glenn, John Glover, Lance Henriksen, Rutger Hauer and Dolph Lundgren. 'You have to accept the dramatic license in action movies,' Wincott said. 'I choose very interesting projects. It's about quality and they have the Wincott stamp. When I do a film, I have quality control. I know that my standards have been set and met.' Which probably also can be said for, say, Kevin Costner, whose pictures are released in theaters. 'When you see a cop movie you know 80 percent of their job is stakeout,' Wincott said. 'When I did the 'Night Heat' TV series at CBS I went on the job with cops in New York, spending most of the time in a car waiting for a call. 'But you can't film that. We have to have dramatic license for action films or nobody would watch them. 'I feel that a successful action star has to be able to act well once the action scenes are over so the audience will relate to the hero. That's where I come in. 'I was in 'Night Heat' five years. I worked in plays on stage that had nothing to do with martial arts. 'I'd like to think I'm an actor doing action movies, not an athlete who happens to be acting.' Chief among Wincott's movie icons is Harrison Ford. 'He does good dramatic roles in drama as well as action pictures,' he said. 'I'm not averse to making non-martial arts pictures.' Wincott lists Bruce Lee as the greatest martial arts performer in the history of movies, followed by Chuck Norris, Ed Parker and Danny Inosanto. Van Damme and Seagal were conspicuously absent from his circle of martial arts champions. As Wincott finished lunch he lamented that none of his movies have enjoyed a North American theatrical release. 'They are released in theaters abroad, but not here,' he said. 'Everyone wonders why. And so do I.'