Let’s face it: The John McTiernan-helmed Predator is a classic action film, and one of the best Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicles to come out of Hollywood since the original Terminator by James Cameron. The sequel Predator 2 is a also noteworthy and watchable although nearly as well adapted to straits of action as its predecessor, with Danny Glover taking over lead roles from Arnold. And then there was the mess that is called Predators, set on an distant alien planet, functioning as more than little than a science fiction adaptation of Survivor.
Certainly, the one thing Predator had going for it over its sequels: casting: from Arnold to Carl Weathers to Shane Black himself, the casting was indispensable to the dispensation of the film. Oddly enough then that Jean Claude van Damme didn’t have a role.
In a recent interview with CinemaBlend, McTiernan opened up about why the seminal action movie star Jean-Claude Van Damme didn’t get a seat at the table in the making of the original Predator movie as the eponymous alien monster. According to the acclaimed American filmmaker, Van Damme has his agent to blame for never stepping foot on the set of the 1987 action movie, stating:
“We never shot anything with him. 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.“
My take: van Damme is something of a screw-up anyway, and if you’ve ever heard him drunkenly try to run commentary on one of his own films, you’ll see he’s barely coherent in English. So it makes plenty of sense to me van Damme probably had no idea what movie he was trying to get into, and why, and to be honest, the addition of van Damme would have only hurt the film, not helped it. It would also not surprise me if Jean wouldn’t have taken the role as he’s always been concerned about getting lost in the ensemble.