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Jean-Claude Van Damme

  1. Kevin Peter Hall, Predator, 1987.   The actioner with two future Governors: California’s Arnold Schwarzenegger and Minnesota’s ex-wrestler Jesse Ventura. Having “the title role,” helped the lone Belgian in town win a three-picture deal. with lowly Cannon Films. Once signed for Bloodsport, Van Damme worried he might get injured inside the predator suit - and kept “fainting” on the Mexican set until he got what he wanted - the sack. One step towards his 15 minutes. He may havE had more muscles from Brussels  but Pittsburg’s Hall beat him where it counted - height. Hall was 6ft. 9ins.   Perfect for the titular beast. No to mention, Harry the friendly Sasquatch (loooking like Chewbacca’s father) in the 1986 Harry and the Hendersons movie and 1991 series. 

  2. Roddy Piper, They Live, 1987The pitch was fine:Drifter finds some sunglasses that let him to see that aliens have taken over the Earth. And, appartently, the film. Lousy! Which is probably why 18 other big guns, said nadato being Nada: JCVD, Alec Baldwin, Michael Biehn, Jeff Bridges, Tom Cruise, Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson, Tommy Lee Jones, Michael Keaton, Christophe(r) Lambert, , Dolph Lundgren, Bill Paxton, Ron Perlman, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Patrick Swayze, Bruce Willis (plus three mere pistols: Brian Bosworth, Bruce Campbell, Stephen Lang).  And the less said about Russell’s wrestler replacement, the better.“Just John Carpenter as usual,” said the Washington Post, “trying to dig deep with a toy shovel.”

  3. Patrick Swayze, Next of Kin, 1989.   Country bumpkins v the Mafia. Again. For the hero of his respun Raw Deal, 1985, UK director John Irvin went from The Obvious Aces: Kevin Costner, Tom Cruise, Clint Eastwood, Harrison Ford, Richard Gere, Mel Gibson, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis… to the Tango and Cash possibles: Michael Biehn, Jeff Bridges, Pierce Brosnan, Kurt Rusell… plus The Also-Rans: Tommy Lee Jones, Kris Kristofferson, Dennis Quaid. And even French Christopher Lambert, Swedish Dolph Lundgren and Belgian Jean Claude Van Damme… for a Chicago cop!
  4. Michael Biehn, Timebomb, 1991.     The studio said: No Biehn.  Get Chuck Norris or... The Muscles from Brussels.  The Israeli writer-director Avi Nesher said: No.  Biehn said: I'll take a salary cut. The studio said: We love him!

  5. Sasha Mitchell,  Kickboxer 2: The Road Back, 1991.      Once described as “a Van Damme sequel without Van Damme.” He  passed to be twins in Double Impact. Well, of course he did!
  6. Linden Ashby, Mortal Kombat, 1994.    Bruce Lee’s son, Brandon, was set forJohnny Cage in the $20m debut of the franchise based on the video game when accidentally shot dead during The Crow, 1993. JCVD, Tom Cruise, Gary Daniels, and Johnny Deppwere bypassed by the Floridiansurfer and martial arts champ. And JCVD preferred to make Street Fighter... and stupidly, arrogantly refused a three-film Universal deal at $12 a pop. He insisted on $20m - to help pay for his daioly 10 grams of coke. “Everything I was touching was making money. Jim Carrey was being paid a fortune. And I wanted to play with the system. Like an idiot!" Studios agreed and cut him off."I was on the blacklist. That was it."
  7. Ted Prior, Mutant Species, 1994.    Director David A Prior had big ideas - Arnold Schwarzenegger  and Van Damme opposite Dee Wallace Stone, Bill Duke and Michael Ironside. The suits cut his cloth to match his  his B-horror flick. However, Prior got his way about  Powers Boothe… and the ex-Captain Marvel,  Jackson Bostwick. 
  8. Wesley Snipes, Demolition Man, 1999.    The dumbest of the  twelve producers (associate, co-, exec, etc) wanted Van Damme   - or Steven Seagal - as the ultra-violent nasty, Simon Phoenix…
  9. Sylvester Stallone, Demolition Man, 1999. … while both guys were more  interested only in hero, John Spartan, but hey! Sly soon had a lock on that!  Van Damme said they should swop ropes.
  10. Bruce Payne, Highlander IV - Endgame,1999.  Aka: Highlander: World Without End. After the so-so series, Christophe(r) Lambert came back with the tele-Immortal Adrian Paul (as Connor and Dunan MacLeod) to tackle the horribly evil Jacob Kell who had 666 kills. (Number remind you of anything…?). Before Surrey’s Payne was selected, candidates included David Bowie and Billy Idol from the music world and JCVD from the world of schlock. 

  11. Hiroyuki Sanada, Rush Hour 3, 2007.    In the mix for the villain Kenji (with Tony Jaa, Vinnie Jones, Steven Seagal and Wenzhuo Zhao) when director Brett Ratner’s  Jackie Chan-Chris Tucker road show hit Paris.
  12. Steve Prouty, Zombieland, 2009.     The first idea was to have a celeb as the punched-in-the-face zombie. Mark Hamill, Matthew McConaughey, Joe Pesci, Patrick Swayze, were also contacted. By 2011, Sylvester Stallone invited JCVD to join The Expendables 2. “He’s had his ups and downs,” said Sly, "but I believe once you've had that star, it's just a matter of re-igniting it.”
  13. Tom Scott, Enemies Closer, 2013.   When director Peter Hyams  was offered the film, Van Damme was attached as the hero.  “Been there, done that,“ said Hyams. He wanted Van Damme as the villain. “I told Jean-Claude that I was going to fashion the bad guy to be this incredibly flamboyant character: a cross between Hannibal Lecter and Robin Williams. He's going to be crazy, funny and lethal. And he pulled it off beautifully… It was a chance to show a different side of Van Damme. His character is all ninety-degree arcs: he's smiling and sweet one minute, then sticks a knife in someone's belly.“





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