Arnold Schwarzenegger Was Originally Meant To Return As The Lead Of Predator 2

In 1987, Arnold Schwarzenegger asserted his dominance as an actor star in "Predator." Directed by John McTiernan, "Predator" featured Schwarzenegger leading an ensemble cast in the jungle, where muscle (and lots of it) was no match for the titular, planet-hopping alien that loved to hunt. The "Predator" franchise is not exactly consistent in quality, but the first film still serves as a benchmark for the action genre. However, Schwarzenegger never returned to the film series. The sequel, "Predator 2," featured Danny Glover in the lead role, but that was originally not the case. Yes, Schwarzenegger was supposed to come back as Alan "Dutch" Schaefer.

It's hard to separate Schwarzenegger from the identity of the "Predator," but the sequel had to do just that. "Predator 2" followed the alien arriving on Earth and onto the busy streets of Los Angeles, going head-to-head with Lieutenant Mike Harrigan, played by Glover. Although the movie has its supporters (including /Film writer Erin Brady), both critics and general audiences were fairly underwhelmed at the time of its release. Of course, that didn't prevent additional "Predator" films from being made, even if most of them failed to recapture the magic of the first movie (except for "Prey"). Things could have been very different, however, had some pesky, low-balled numbers on a check not prompted Schwarzenegger to pass on "Predator 2."

'The whole deal fell apart'

In an interview with Variety for the 35th anniversary of the film, "Predator" producer John Davis discussed Arnold Schwarzenegger's absence from the sequel. Davis confirmed the actor was actually set to return for "Predator 2" before talks fell apart for an all-too-predictable reason:

"Arnold was gonna play [the lead] role. The studio was negotiating with him, and the whole deal fell apart over $250,000. And it was obvious: Joe Roth, who was the head of the studio at the time, just said, 'I won't go past this number' and Arnold wanted this other number."

I personally think Schwarzenegger dodged a bullet by not returning, freeing him up to focus on "Terminator 2: Judgement Day" instead. Still, the exact reasoning behind his "Predator 2" exit is pretty funny looking back at it. Setting aside the fact that the money he was offered is now chump change for huge action actors (I'd gladly accept it, mind you), losing Schwarzenegger just so that he could outdo "Predator 2" with the "Terminator" sequel is the kind of karma that makes these stories fun to hear about. "Predator 2" has its moments, but dang, it's hard to imagine anyone seriously arguing it's better than "Judgement Day."

No matter the case, in the grander scheme of the franchise, "Predator 2" (shockingly) remains near the top half in quality. Perhaps that's more of an indication of the lackluster sequels that came after, but "Predator 2" holds a unique place in creature feature history worth remembering — although it's also difficult not to wonder what might've been, had Schwarzenegger not been deemed too expensive at the height of his stardom.