10 Cloverfield Lane director Dan Trachtenberg’s upcoming reboot marks the fifth installment in the franchise, but no Predator movie has ever come close to matching the brilliance of John McTiernan’s 1987 original, which is rightly held up as a classic of both the action and sci-fi genres.
The setup is simple; take a handful of the biggest, beefiest and manliest men you could possibly hope to find, drop them in the jungle and then position the first half of the story as a straightforward shoot em’ up. Then, once Arnold Schwarzenegger and the gang have dispatched of some hapless goons, throw an extraterrestrial bounty hunter with mandibles into the mix and turn the concept completely on its head.
The Predator is one of the most iconic aliens in all of pop culture, but it’s long since gone down in history that the role was originally set to be played by Jean-Claude Van Damme on stilts, before Kevin Peter Hall was drafted in when the creative team decided they needed to change things up.
In a new interview with The Murder Master Music Show, star Bill Duke confirmed why the Muscles from Brussels was relieved from his duties as Predator‘s big bad.
“The Predator that you saw was not the original predator did you know that? The original Predator was a much smaller creature and they were gonna put the special effects on his body in post-production. He had a stealth suit on and they put him in wires and he flew in the trees with the wires on his back looking like he was flying. He had passed out twice from dehydration. The producer said, ‘If you pass out again I’m gonna fire you!’. Two weeks go by and the guy passes out and the producer goes over and fires him. That person was Jean-Claude Van Damme.”
It worked out pretty well for all involved in the end, with Predator going on to find major success and kick off a series that’s still going strong almost 35 years later, while Van Damme eventually managed to get his foot in the industry door to launch his own long-running tenure as an action hero, so no harm no foul.