The original Predator movie is generally considered to be one of the best action movies of all time. Initially, it also almost featured two of the '80s biggest superstars in a head-to-head fight, as Arnold Schwarzenegger's Major Dutch Schaefer was set to duke it out against a young Jean Claude Van Damme as the titular alien Predator.
However, Van Damme left the production, with several rumors emerging later on why he didn't want to continue. Now, we finally have clarity from the actor himself why he didn't exit of his own accord, but was simply booted from the project.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Van Damme refuted several rumors and made it perfectly clear it wasn't due to him being angry the audience wouldn't see his face, but it was down to him being uncomfortable in the suit, and also not being able to pull off the stunts in a safe fashion.
"I've got my friend next to me and I said, 'Man, I ain't going to make it,'" Van Damme admitted. He spoke of being put in a cast to make the Predator costume, how the ensuing issues with him breathing and becoming overheated didn't work in his favor.
Eventually, the final version of the Predator had Van Damme standing on stilts, but with the costume's mobility drastically reduced, the role was no longer what he envisioned. Van Damme was initially brought in to give a more ninja-like and martial arts aesthetic to the alien bounty hunter, but he was now convinced the stunts the production demanded would be too dangerous.
He revealed this decision drove one of Hollywood's biggest producers Joel Silver to axe him from the project and replace him with the seven-foot Kevin Peter Hall. "When Joel asked me to jump, I knew it was going to be a bad one," Van Damme confessed. "I said, 'This is impossible, Joel. I think we're going to have a problem.' Then he replaced me."
Despite his unceremonious departure from the film, Van Damme still went on to have an impressive film career including action movie classics like Timecop and Kickboxer.