He walks with an assured posture of swag and everywhere he goes, he attracts attention and the eyes keep following his every step. The stares are glued on his immense gangly body and sometimes the comments that sweep across are unavoidable. It is John Rambo of course passing by right here in Kampala.
Well, that’s what we thought and several other people as well, until we gave him a closer look and said ‘hi’ that, we discovered this was actually not Michael Sylvester Gardenzio Stallone aka John Rambo the Italian-American actor and filmmaker well known for his Hollywood action roles, including boxer Rocky Balboa, the title character of the Rocky series’ seven films and as the one-man army John Rambo from the four Rambo films also more recently in three The Expendables films.
Could this be his twin brother or one of the ‘undocumented’ relations? These and several other questions got us inquisitive and it is for this reason that, we decided to ask the man himself after trailing him in different public places and functions where he has been a big hit with the locals who keep following everywhere, bombarding him with selfie requests.
So, when the opportunity came late last year at an event, he did not hesitate one bit when we requested for an interview as he was being mobbed by a small crowd fighting for photo opportunities with him. He arrived at our offices in Kololo on time one quiet and rather dull Saturday morning for the appointment we made in that moment of confusion.
Dressed in his trade-mark thick khaki pants, black hugging vest and heavy jungle boots, he carried a heavy sack full of his ‘military gear’ and locally made ‘weapons’ as he wiped off a sweat off his glistening straight face with menacingly piercing blue eyes twinkling. His dark spiky hair neatly tucked in a black beret.
After a few ‘hellos’, we got straight to business and this is where we discover our Ugandan ‘John Rambo’ is Canadian-born Claude Paré who came to Uganda in 2010 to study a Masters degree in Fine Arts at The Margaret Trowell School Of Industrial and Fine Arts in Makerere University. It is from there that, the journey from ‘stardom’ started as he became popular on the streets of Kampala.
“I came to Uganda as a student but started getting a lot of attention that eventually got media attention and ended up with stories in the Newspapers. I started getting favours and was treated fairly where ever I go just because of my looks”. He explained.
“At first, many people would approach me and ask if I am John Rambo, I would say no and they would be so disappointed and sad but now I say yes and it makes them happy. I make people happy.”
And indeed his looks or rather close resemblance to John Rambo did not only get the attention of the ordinary American actor’s fans, but it also got the attention of professionals who started hiring him for movie roles. “I started meeting all kinds of people and very important people as well and started getting lots of opportunities”. One such opportunity being with the locally based Wakaliwood where he was given a role in the movie ’Song of War’ and Operation Kongoliro ‘The Uganda Expendables’ which has been put on hold for now.
He has also got gigs in Montreal film festival in Canada as well as in many countries in Africa like Tanzania. Just like his American look-alike, apart from the striking resemblance, Paré is also a man of few words and doesn’t mince his words.
Although the French-Canadian has a big fan base among the female species, he is not a ladies’ man and not into marriage. “I am a kind of guy who doesn’t want to get married” he bluntly tells us.
Despite being a big fan and friend of singers Irene Ntale and Sheebah Karungi (He says the song ‘John Rambo’ was a tribute to him), he however has a weakness for one particular person;
“I would like to have a date with Baby Snail” as we try to figure out who Baby Snail is he quips in and saves us the burden by clearing the air “It’s Bad Black. I like her and would like to have a date with her”. He cheekily says as he wipes off sweat off his pointed nose.
Before he came to Uganda, Paré was a painter in Canada and now teaches Art at Makerere University as he pursues his PHD. He says he also spends a lot of time writing, and producing his own movie projects.