We love a good mystery here at The Digital Fix, and this one from the Predator set has everything: a rubber suit, conflicting accounts, and the original Predator actor from some of the best action movies being sent home.
The man underneath the costume in the original Arnold Schwarzenegger movie was originally Jean-Claude Van Damme. One fateful day, producer Joel Silver fired him, changing the course of one of the best 80s movies.
But here’s the thing, nobody can agree on how it happened. There were multiple eyewitnesses, and all of them tell a different story. This one’s going to be harder to solve than the Predator movies in order timeline.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, there were multiple individuals who witnessed the butterfly effect event, and none of them can agree on anything.
Second unit director/stunt coordinator Craig Baxley claims he “jumped up in the air, did the splits with his legs straight out and his crotch was at eye level — and I’m six feet tall. He was there to play the creature, and a company called Boss had designed a creature. It had the head of an ant. And they spent an absolute fortune on this.”
“And so they brought Jean-Claude out and they put the head on Jean-Claude, and he stood up and freaked out, and took off this $20,000 head and threw it on the ground and it shattered. And Joel [Silver] said, ‘What the f— are you doing!’ And he told him, ‘You’ll never work in Hollywood again! Get off my set!’”
Producer John Davis, however, said, “we realized the Predator couldn’t be five-foot-six; he actually needed to be of greater stature.” Star Bill Duke got involved too, stating, “[Jean-Claude] had passed out twice from dehydration.”
“And Joel came over and said, ‘Jean, I know it’s hot, but we’re losing time, man. If you pass out one more time, we gotta fire you.’ So Jean says, ‘I’m not doing it on purpose!’ Joel says, ‘Man, this is production. Don’t take it personally.’ So two weeks went by, and he’s flying on these wires in trees and everything and he passes out, and Joel comes and tells him, ‘You’re fired.’”
Our favorites are the passing out tale and the splits, but the reality isn’t as fun according to the man himself, who said it was a matter of comfort and safety. Apparently, wearing a hot suit in a jungle isn’t an actor’s dream. “I like to breathe,” Van Damme said. “They put in my mouth like a tube [to breathe through]. I was covered in that cast for at least 20 minutes. It was boiling hot,” he recalled, “I started to panic.”