The latest issue of Empire is simply overflowing with great material if you’re a fan of Arnold Schwarzenegger. There’s a major interview, “Working With Arnie”; a feature about his weapons of choice and one-liners; “Exploring Predator” an awesome in-depth play-by-play about his seminal alien-in-the-jungle picture; “Surviving Commando” a movie that the magazine calls his most off-the-chain; and “Arnie Killed Me,” a column tracking down all the bit-actors who were offed by Arnie in his various films. If you are at all a Schwarzenegger fan, the issue is a must.
And while it might be old-hat to some hardcore Schwarzenegger-heads, the parts that fascinated us the most were the bits and pieces from these features that discussed films the ’80s-action star could have starred in, but didn’t for whatever reason — the five films below. For much, much more, pick up the latest issue of Empire.
1. “Die Hard” (1998)
Urban lore has it that the film was originally planned as a vehicle for Arnold Schwarzenegger and a sequel to “Commando” as written by Steven De Souza (“The Running Man,” “Commando“) and Frank Darabont, but when Arnie declined, they rewrote it and the picture transformed into “Die Hard.” If that’s the case, Arnold does not mention that fact to Empire (and neither did De Souza in a 2011 interview, but the action-star is mentioned as one of the many that passed on it). As Schwarzenegger tells it, he was vaguely interested, but the screenplay was incomplete at the time. “There was an unfinished script,” he said. “Someone said, ‘Would you want to play this?’ I was working with Joel Silver on ‘Predator‘ and ‘Die Hard’ was his next movie. So we talked about it, but then he hired Bruce Willis.” Verdict? Schwarzenegger likely wasn’t that interested anyhow (plus he woulda been busy: “Predator, “The Running Man” shot the same year as “Die Hard” would’ve). And it’s difficult to conceive of Schwarzenegger playing as vulnerable and human as Willis did (at least in the first one before he became your average, run-of-the-mill supercop).
2. “The Rock“
If 2008 was the year that Liam Neeson began the Neesploitation genre with “Taken,” 1996 was the year Nicolas Cage transformed from quirky indie actor to action star. He began it with the unusual lead role in Michael Bay’s “The Rock.” Produced by legendary ’80s producer Don Simpson (“Top Gun,” “Beverly Hills Cop“) and Jerry Bruckheimer, Arnie says he was offered the role first, but like “Die Hard” it was far from finished. Schwarzenegger said a “totally stoned” Simpson barged into his trailer with an 85-page script that had handwritten notes from Bruckheimer scrawled all over it. ” ‘Here, look at this script. But don’t read it!'” Arnold recalled a “totally wiped out” Simpson saying to him manically. “He was all over the place,” he continued. “I said, ‘Look, Don. I can’t make a commitment based on what you’re showing me here. You won’t even let me read the script! Why don’t you bake it some more, develop it some more then we’ll talk again.’ He was very upset. He just walked out and then went to Nicolas Cage with the part.” Verdict? Schwarzenegger as fish out of water Dr. Stanley Goodspeed? We can’t see it, first and foremost because again, Cage rules in that picture because you believe he’s out of his element and on the verge of dying the entire time. Arnold would have turned it into a (more) conventional action picture.
3. “Full Metal Jacket“
Yep, Stanley Kubrick himself apparently wanted Schwarzenegger to play the character “Animal Mother” in his Vietnam epic “Full Metal Jacket.” The part would eventually go to actor Adam Baldwin. “I didn’t have time to do it” is all Arnold allows, which is likely true since “Full Metal Jacket” was released in 1987, and 85-87 was full for Arnie with “Commando,” “Raw Deal,” “Predator” and “The Running Man,” the latter two both shot in 1986 and released the following year. Verdict? What could have been, if only to simply hear stories of Kubrick and Schwarzenegger on set. It’s not too unbelievable either. Kubrick tried to get Anthony Michael Hall to star as Private Joker, but after eight months of negotiations, the deal fell through (and Hall has been kicking himself ever since). Kubrick, according to Bruce Willis in a 2010 Playboy interview, also offered him a role, but he was busy with “Moonlighting” commitments.
In 1991, director James Cameron, who had already directed Arnold in “The Terminator,” famously wrote a treatment (a 47-page “scriptment”) for “Spider-Man.” Electro and Sandman were the main villains and evidently at one point, Peter Parker and Mary-Jane Watson were to have sex in the movie. Arnold Schwarzenegger was frequently rumored as the director’s choice for Dr. Octopus, which the actor confirms. “It never got there because he had a battle with the studio and they went in a different direction,” he said. Verdict? Some who have read the script said it was “the worst Spider-Man movie dreamed up by man,” and considering Schwarzenegger’s godawful turn in “Batman and Robin” (it earned him a Worst Supporting Actor nomination in the Razzies), it’s probably a good thing this one didn’t come to pass.
5. “Predator 2.”
File under: minor duh. Anytime a sequel is made, the studio and producers want the lead to star in the picture once again. And this was the case with “Predator 2.” Schwarzenegger, who starred as Dutch in the 1987 film, evidently felt that taking the storyline to the urban jungle cityscape was a bad idea, was outspoken about his negative feelings towards the concept and eventually passed according to the 1987 book, “The Winston Effect: The Art and History of Stan Winston Studio” (Winston created the creature). Empire retells the same story, but producers say it was a money issue. “We should have had Arnold in the movie,” producer John Davis said. “But the deal broke down over 250k. Which was a shame.” Evidently the 2010 “Predators” script by Alex Litvak and Michael Finch (retooled from a version written by Robert Rodriguez in the 1990s) called for a cameo from Dutch arriving in a Predator ship, but the idea was killed off for unknown reasons (likely the fact that Schwarzenegger was in office at the time and that little cameo could have cost that thrifty production a huge untenable sum).
Bonus credit: James Cameron wanted Lance Henriksen (Bishop in “Aliens“) to originally play the “The Terminator” cyborg in that 1984 movie. Schwarzenegger, who had auditioned for the Kyle Reese role that eventually went to Michael Biehn, didn’t want anything less than the male lead role, but after offering so many insightful ideas of how the Terminator should be played, Cameron said, “Just think about it, trust me. Re-read it.” The rest is history.