Although it’s since faded from view—like some sort of technologically advanced killing machine that pretty much nobody actually wanted to look at, as it happened to turn out—there was once a time when expectations were modestly high for Shane Black’s 2018 cinematic shrug The Predator. After all, Black is a perfectly talented action director, and while reports about the film’s shooting—from news that the director (who later apologized) had cast a registered sex offender (Steven Wilder Striegel) in an ultimately cut minor part, to an announcement that the film’s entire third act had to be re-shot because shooting in the day wasn’t scary enough—weren’t necessarily positive, it wasn’t impossible to imagine that something great could emerge, mud-soaked and angry, from the mess.
Heck, at one point, the film’s producers were even angling for a cameo from the man himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger. (And also Sigourney Weaver, bizarrely, but that’s neither here nor there for the purposes of this anecdote.) And while Arnold ultimately passed on the part, we’ve now got details about what it would have entailed, courtesy of the film’s co-writer, long-time Black collaborator Fred Dekker.
As this interview with Moviefone deftly lays out, Dekker has had a fascinating career; as the director of Night Of The Creeps and The Monster Squad (and, uh, Robocop 3), he’s got a legitimate claim to being an underappreciated genre legend, despite his relatively light resumé. (We do love that, at some point in the early 2000s, someone at Star Trek: Enterprise said “Get the Creeps guy to write us a handful of episodes.”) In the interview, Dekker talks about all the ways he feels like The Predator got undercut by the studio, before revealing what role Arnold’s returning Dutch would play: Exactly the same one that Mark Hamill had at the end of Star Wars: Episode VII.
And the other thing I said is, “We have to have Arnold Schwarzenegger in this movie.” Because, like it or not, one of the master strokes of The Force Awakens is that ending. Because even though Luke doesn’t do anything except turn around and have a beard, it touches that little nostalgia button in you and you go, “Oh cool.” And then you go to the credits and there’s no way that movie’s not going to be a big hit.
Hilariously, Dekker also lays out exactly why Schwarzenegger ultimately turned the part down: He didn’t want to do a tiny, single line role, and he had absolutely no confidence that the sequel his appearance was potentially setting up would ever actually exist. (Arnold Schwarzenegger: Good at Hollywood.) Plus, we have to imagine he wasn’t entirely thrilled to be asked to reprise a line that wasn’t even from this particular sprawling sci-fi franchise:
We very much wanted him in the film but what we had written was a cameo that would have spring-boarded into a major role in any sequel. He decided it wasn’t enough of a role and nobody was willing to put money on the possibility of a sequel. He would be taking a pay cut. He would have said, “Come with me if you want to live.” Shane had a talk with Arnold but at the end of the day, the sequel wasn’t a done deal and this is really not a lot of screen time for Arnold to go and fly to Canada and do a half day.
You can read the full interview with Dekker—including his thoughts on any attempt to revive Monster Squad, wolfman, nards, and all—right here.