Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Jean-Claude Van Damme was almost the Original Predator Opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger

Finally, official confirmation reveals that Jean-Claude Van Damme (JCVD) was going to wear the suit and play the original Predator in the 1987 movie. He came so close to playing it that he actually put on the costume, but hated every minute of it. That is because he wanted to kick butt with his roundhouse kick, but this was simply not possible in the bulky Predator costume.

This is the same Predator movie with action star Arnold Schwarzenegger, also starring Carl Weathers.

Carl Weathers sitting next to Jean-Claude Van Damme in Predator (1987)

JCVD was almost the Original Predator but didn't like the Costume

This is no longer just a rumor. Steve Johnson confirms (in the video at the bottom) that JCVD was actually going to play the original Predator, before quitting the movie. He thought the costume looked too much like a silly superhero, despite his misunderstanding that the costume was just for the cloaking effect, and that he was just going to be a stuntman. This angered JCVD, and he hated the big red costume.

The role was then taken over by Kevin Peter Hall, who also played the helicopter pilot in the movie.

The original concept drawing for the Predator can be seen below. The least popular part about it among the decision-makers was the head. Steve Johnson says, "It was ahead of its time, but the head did suck."

Original Predator Concept

Jean-Claude Van Damme was Ready for His Closeup in the 1980's

Jean-Claude Van Damme first arrived in Los Angeles in 1981, and tried for five long years to land a role. With a little help from Chuck Norris, he got a job as a bouncer at a club. He got a small role in the 1984 movie, Missing in Action, and then a role in the 1986 movie, No Retreat, No Surrender.

Jean-Claude Van Damme took English classes to improve his speaking ability during this time, and some people in Hollywood even said that he was "fresh off the boat" from Brussels, due to his accent.

Predator Role was a Little Misunderstanding by Jean-Claude Van Damme

JCVD thought that the role as the Predator would involved intense martial arts fight scenes with Arnold Schwarzenegger. He was ready to do a big time action movie for his break out performance into his acting career. But there was some miscommunication, as Jean-Claude thought he was getting the role of a lifetime, with a change to take on Arnold Schwarzenegger.

What the role of Predator really involved was putting on this red costume, that somewhat resembles a walking lobster, and moving around in a muddy jungle of Mexico. The red costume was just for the cloaking effect to be added in post-production of the movie. Jean-Claude Van Damme thought it was the actual Predator, and that it looked like a silly superhero. Then the special effects man, Steve Johnson explained to Jean-Claude Van Damme that his role in the movie was essentially a stunt man that would get no real face time.

Jean-Claude Van Damme was not happy about this. He left disappointed, but shortly after landed his most popular role in the movie, Bloodsport (1988).

Jean-Claude Van Damme vs. Sylvestor Stallone & Arnold Schwarzenegger

Jean-Claude Van Damme would not get his opportunity to be on opposite sides of the screen with Arnold Schwarzenegger until Expendables 2 (2012). Even then, Arnold did not play a major role in the film, and JCVD would have to just settle with fighting Sylvestor Stallone.

The video below shows the predator costume that JCVD was asked to wear, and special effects guy Steve Johnson recalling the frustrations that Jean-Claude had with the role.

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