Watch: A Hilarious Story About Jean-Claude Van Damme and the Original 'Predator' Design

Watch: A Hilarious Story About Jean-Claude Van Damme and the Original 'Predator' Design

Apr 08, 2014

The Predator, the titular extraterrestrial that squares off against Arnold Schwarzenegger in John McTiernan’s film of the same name, has become one of the most iconic Hollywood monsters. The weird mandibles, fleshy dreadlocks, and nifty alien gadgets have made the creature unforgettable. However, the galaxy’s most feared hunter didn’t always look this way, as FX legend Steve Johnson reveals in this candid interview with The Stan Winston School.

Johnson talks openly (and hilariously) about the early designs for the creature and how awful they were.

“What they needed was a character with backward-bent reptilian legs, extended arms and a head that was out here and they wanted to shoot on the muddy slopes of Mexico in the real jungles. It was virtually physically impossible to do. I told them it wouldn't work.”

Turns out Johnson was right, but then the story gets really interesting.

Most people know that Jean-Claude Van Damme was originally cast to play the creature. Apparently, in a typical bit of Hollywood subterfuge, JCVD was given the role with the idea that this would be his big break – a chance to show off his martial arts skills against one of the biggest action stars on the planet.

So, imagine Van Damme’s disappointment when he shows up for the shoot and is forced to parade around in a goofy looking red costume. The actor was not pleased, according to Johnson, complaining that the suit made him look like a superhero. Today, this would probably be seen as a positive.

Of course, no one intended for the Predator to look like some guy in a crab suit outside a seafood joint – the red was just a necessity for the Predator’s cloaking ability, so that the costume didn't show up on camera. At any rate, none of this worked out (thankfully), and the film halted production. Van Damme was replaced with Kevin Peter Hall and Stan Winston redesigned the creature. The rest is history, as Predator went on to be a huge success and JCVD managed to become an action star in his own right – without having to look like a goofy space crab in the process.

Watch the interview below to hear Johnson tell the tale as only he can.

[via YouTube]

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