Van Damme the Predator. No, we’re not talking some Michael Jackson biopic, we’re talking about the classic film starring the Governator, Arnold Schwarzenegger, from 1987. It was a smash hit as far as alien encounter, action films are concerned. It proved to be such a success that it has spurned several sequels. Some notably poorer than the original. But what many people don’t know is that the original role of the Predator was to fall to Van Damme, the muscles from Brussels. What went wrong.
It depends on who you ask. During filming several different suits were used for the alien. One for special effects, that were years ahead of their time, and the one that was worn while the alien was visible. These were both hot and uncomfortable according to Van Damme. Predator had more problems with his casting though. This time it had more to do with vanity than comfort.
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One main problem for an up and coming star with an ego was visibility. Van Damme as the Predator was clearly not going to be seen on screen, even though for a significant proportion of it he would have been present, but unseen behind the costume. That’s certainly not one way to please a rising star. Further problems with his casting were realized when there was to be no martial arts combat between his character and that of Schwarzenegger’s. Apparently someone had forgotten to relay all of the information about the role to Van Damme, and he wasn’t impressed.
He was eventually replaced with Kevin Peter Hall who stood an imposing 7 feet 2 inches tall. The decision to recast the role proved to be a successful one, as the taller, and more intimidating Hall performed the role superbly, and without complaint.
As a bonus, we have a clip of the Van Damme Predator role in action below.