Jean-Claude Van Damme Was Fired From PREDATOR Because He Wouldn't Stop Kickboxing
You may or may not know this, but Jean-Claude Van Damme was originally cast in the 1987 film Predator. This was a time when he was an unknown actor and he was supposed to play The Predator. He eventually ended up being fired and replaced by Kevin Peter Hall. There's actually footage of Van Damme in the original Predator suit that you can watch here.
Some new stories have surfaced from several people that worked on the film explaining why Van Damme was fired. There are a few different reasons and stories given and one of them was because he wouldn't stop kickboxing! He wanted Predator to be a kickboxer alien from outer space, which is a good title for a 1960s sci-fi movie, but producer Joel Silver didn't want that.
Van Damme was apparently just walking up to people like Silver and into people offices jumping around and showing how high he could kick. Stunt Coordinator Craig Baxley recalled:
"Joel and I were walking down the hallway of the hotel together and Jean-Claude was walking toward us with his assistant. And Jean-Claude walked up and said, 'Are you Joel Silver?' And he said yeah. And Jean said, 'Well look at this!' And he jumped up in the air, I swear to God, did the splits with his legs straight out and his crotch was at eye level — and I'm 6 feet tall."
As far as the reasons given as to why Van Damme was fired there are several different accounts. My favorite comes from special effects supervisor Joel Hynek. While talking to THR for the film's 30th anniversary he said:
"I was in Joel Silver's trailer, and he had called for Jean-Claude to come see him. And he comes in the trailer and Joel starts saying, 'You gotta stop kickboxing!' --- because [Jean-Claude] wanted to kickbox --- and he was telling him, 'Look, the Predator is not a kickboxer.' And Van Damme was like (Van Damme voice), 'I must do that; that's how I see the Predator.' And Joel said, 'Well, you're fired. Get out of here.' And Van Damme says, 'Kiss my balls!' and walks out, and that was the end of that."
I don't know how Van Damme would have been able to pull off some of his signature kickboxing moves in the suit, but apparently, he was and Silver wasn't impressed. A mixed martial artist Predator certainly would have made things even more interesting... in a silly way. I thought the way the Predator was handled in the film was perfect. Ya gotta hand to Van Damme, though, for telling Silver to kiss his balls! That takes balls.
One of the other reasons given as to why he was fired included him breaking a $20,000 Predator head. Baxley explains:
"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 Jean-Claude stood up and freaked out, and took off this $20,000 head and threw it on the ground and it shattered. And Joel said, 'What the f— are you doing!' And he told Jean-Claude, 'You'll never work in Hollywood again! Get off my set!' So that was it."
Apparently, Van Damme hated the original red suit that he had to wear. Not sure why he would freak out, though. A couple other reasons given were because he was too short to play the alien hunter and he didn't want to wear the suit. He wanted his face to be seen. Then, of course, Fox apparently hated the footage they saw of him in the suit.
Regardless of how Van Damme's firing went down, I think we all know now that it was for the best.