When it comes to '80s action icons, few names are as legendary as Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jean-Claude Van Damme. Audiences didn't get to see the two stars in the same film at the peaks of their careers, but a well-known anecdote about one of Schwarzenegger's breakout films, Predator, was that Van Damme was originally cast as the extraterrestrial threat. Celebrating its 30th anniversary this week, the film's director, John McTiernan, reminded CinemaBlend why Van Damme bailed on the seminal flick.
"We never shot anything with him," the director explained. "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."
One of Van Damme's issues was with the film's original costume, which you can see in the video below, as special effects specialist Steve Johnson recalls more information about Van Damme's departure.
"It was awful," says Johnson of the suit, "It was ahead of its time, let's put it that way. But the head did suck."
As you can see in the footage above, the alien looked far more bug-like in appearance, including a set of legs that bent backwards. Considering the shoot took place in a muddy jungle full of rugged terrain, it was clear that Van Damme would act as more of a stunt person than be able to use the film to show off his martial arts skills, with Johnson saying that "made him even angrier because he thought he could do his martial arts, he could fight Arnold Schwarzenegger. Impossible. Absolutely impossible."
Additionally, to pull off the effects of the Predator's cloaking device, the suit needed to be bright red, as it stood out against the green foliage. Van Damme, however, thought this was the actual design of the suit.
"He was just off the boat from Brussels, he thought he was going to show his martial arts abilities to the world," Johnson revealed. "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."
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Bloody Disgusting purports that there were other factors at play in his departure, as the timeline of Van Damme joining Predator and getting funding on Bloodsport run close to one another, which could have made Van Damme even more antsy to get out of the film.
A new installment in the franchise, The Predator, recently wrapped shooting, aiming for an August 3, 2018 release.