This is What Jean-Claude Van Damme Looked Like in ‘Predator’
‘Predator‘ is not only one of Arnold Schwarzenegger‘s best movies, it’s one of the best sci-fi/action movies of all time, putting the musclebound action hero up against an unstoppable alien hunter. The design of the Predator is so iconic and the overall film’s reputation so strong that many people don’t realize that this was originally a very different movie. So different that Jean-Claude Van Damme was originally supposed to play the alien bad guy!
Although the film’s major screenplay problems were patched up on set by ‘Lethal Weapon’ scribe Shane Black (who created a part for himself), the alien itself wasn’t fixed until late in the filmmaking process. The video above has the full story and some fairly astonishing footage, but here’s the basic gist of it: the original design was significantly different (and not nearly as good) and a young Van Damme put on the costume thinking he would be given the chance to show off his fighting skills on camera. No one told Van Damme that he was going to be invisible for most of the movie and no one bothered to explain that he’d have to wear a bright red costume to create the cloaking effect, resulting in one very angry Belgian martial artist.
Certain shots of the cloaked Van Damme remain in the finished film and you can’t tell the difference, but the footage of the on-set costume is just plain hilarious. Looking less like a menacing alien hunter and more like a ‘Power Rangers’ villain, Van Damme couldn’t look more silly. It’s a good thing everyone saw the error of their ways and course-corrected to reach the iconic final design, but all of the speed bumps feel worth it, just so we can see Jean-Claude Van Damme prance through the jungle in a bright red lobster costume.