One of the definitive sci-fi action thrillers of the '80s, Predator, celebrated its 30th anniversary earlier this month. To celebrate the momentous occasion, The Hollywood Reporter interviewed multiple members of the cast and crew to get the inside story on what would become an infamously difficult shoot, which includes the hiring and firing of Jean-Claude Van Damme.
Visual effects supervisor Joel Hynek recalled exactly how the firing went down, revealing, "I was in Joel Silver's trailer, and he had called for Jean-Claude to come see him. And he comes in the trailer and Joel starts saying, 'You gotta stop kickboxing!' --- because [Jean-Claude] wanted to kickbox --- and he was telling him, 'Look, the Predator is not a kickboxer.'"
Hynek continued, "And Van Damme was like (Van Damme voice), 'I must do that; that's how I see the Predator.' And Joel said, 'Well, you're fired. Get out of here.' And Van Damme says, 'Kiss my balls!' and walks out, and that was the end of that."
There might be some discrepancies about how the actual conversation played out, but based on other descriptions of Van Damme's mood on the set, the above interaction sounds incredibly plausible.
Van Damme would go on to become one of the biggest action stars of the '80s and '90s, but he was merely a burgeoning talent when he was cast to play the predator in the film.
John McTiernan recently explained to CinemaBlend, "We never shot anything with him." The director added, "It was a complete screw up with his agent, trying to hustle him into a job and didn't know what the movie was. It's silly. It was really silly."
Another one of the special effects artists that worked on the film, Steve Johnson, confirmed in a separate interview, "He was just off the boat from Brussels, he thought he was going to show his martial arts abilities to the world.” Johnson continued, “He thought this was actually the real look of the monster in the movie and he [said] ‘I hate this. I hate this. I hate it. I look like a superhero.’ He was so angry."
To stand out from the jungle's lush green foliage, the suit Van Damme wore had to be bright red, but the actor didn't realize CGI would be used to create the final image seen in the film.
A new installment in the franchise, The Predator, recently wrapped shooting, aiming for an August 3,