John McTiernan laid the foundation of the Predator franchise with the 1987 film Predator. The film featured Arnold Schwarzenegger against the Predator, portrayed by Kevin Peter Hall. However, Hall was not the first choice to portray the extraterrestrial species in the film. Jean-Claude Van Damme was first offered the role. The Bloodsport star, who was still looking for better opportunities in Hollywood, was offered to star as one of the leads alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Van Damme got the role soon after his audition. However, things did not go as expected. After facing several issues, the makers reportedly fired him from the film. After this, Kevin Peter Hall was cast as the alien creature in the 1987 film and the 1990 sequel of the film.
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Jean-Claude Van Damme Reportedly Left Predator
The 1987 film had been the highest-rated film in the Predator franchise before the release of the 2022 prequel, The Prey. The first film of the series introduced extraterrestrial species. The film follows a team of commandos on a mission to save hostages when they come across an alien creature who starts hunting them down.
The creature was portrayed by Kevin Peter Hall. However, before Hall, Jean-Claude Van Damme was hired to play the alien creature. However, he was fired from the project after he damaged the film’s property. Craig Baxley, the stunt coordinator of the film, recounted the incident during an interview with The Hollywood Reporter.
Baxley claims that while trying on the Predator costume, the Kickboxer star damaged the $20,000 costume mask after he threw it to the ground. After which, Joel Silver told him, “You’ll never work in Hollywood again! Get off my set!”
While there are different reasons given for why Van Damme was fired, many also believe that the Hard Target star left the project. He claimed that his outfit in the film was “disgusting.” Van Damme also claimed that after the audition, he was told that he would have to wear a “tight leotard” with minimal makeup.
But when he showed up on the set, he had to get in the “thick rubber suit” and was only given a little tube to breathe through the suit. He was told to signal when he had difficulty breathing, but when he did, he was asked to stay a little longer. He was unable to keep up with everything and reportedly left the film.
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Jean-Claude Van Damme Struggled With Dehydration
Craig Baxley claimed that Joel Silver fired Jean-Claude Van Damme after he damaged the costume head. However, Bill Duke shared another incident that led the producer to fire the Universal Soldier star from the 1987 Predator.
Bill Duke, who portrayed Sergeant Mac Eliot in the film, said during an interview that Van Damm “passed out twice from dehydration” during the filming. After seeing that Jean-Claude Van Damme was passing out constantly, the producer warned him that if he passed out again, he would be fired from the film.
Duke claimed that after seeing no progress in Van Damme’s condition, the producer fired him from the film. The special effects supervisor Joel Hynek claimed that he was fired as he continuously did kickboxing on the set. He recalled the time when Joel Silver called Van Damme in his trailer and asked him to stop kickboxing on the set. But the Lionheart star refused and said that’s how he sees the creature.
Seeing him not following the direction, Silver fired Jean-Claude Van Damme on the spot. The role eventually went to Kevin Peter Hall, who appeared as Predator in the 1987 film and the 1990 sequel.
The Predator film series is available to stream on Hulu.
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Source: The Hollywood Reporter