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'Die Hard,' 'The Rock,' 'Full Metal Jacket' & More: 5 Films Arnold Schwarzenegger Could Have Starred In

by Edward Davis
October 8, 2012 2:34 PM
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Arnold Schwarzenegger, 5 Films, What If

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.

Die Hard

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).

The Rock

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.

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  • MAT | October 26, 2012 2:23 PMReply

    Lets get back to love and life

  • Peter | October 9, 2012 5:51 AMReply

    Arnie in Full Metal Jacket would have been one of the strangest decisions that Kubrick ever made...still probably would have been an awesome film though.

    peter @ Space City

  • fry | October 8, 2012 7:29 PMReply

    Arnie would have been awesome as Animal Mother, I can imagine him saying "Well, I got a joke for you: I'm gonna tear you a new asshole"

  • JD | October 8, 2012 7:14 PMReply

    Uh, excuse me, I've read Cameron's Spider-Man scriptment, and it's terrific. It would have been one of the greatest superhero movies ever made. (I suspect the Spidey / Mary Jane borderline-bondage sex scene would not have survived production rewrites, though.) Anyway, there is no Doctor Octopus anywhere in the scriptment, so it's somewhat difficult for Arnold to have almost starred in it, don't ya think? Now maybe Cameron was imagining Arnold as Doc Ock in possible sequel, and considering that he got one of the Arnold's best performances out of him playing a killer robot, I suspect that comparing Arnold acting for Cameron to Joel Schumacher's half-assed disaster of a movie is somewhat stupid.

  • JD | October 8, 2012 7:06 PMReply

    A. Frank Darabont did indeed write a sequel to Commando, but it had nothing to do with Die Hard. B. Die Hard is based on a book published in the late 70s. I can't remember the title offhand, but the author--I think his name was Roderick Thorpe--also wrote the book that was the basis for the 1968 Frank Sinatra film The Detective. There was some talk, at first, of doing Die Hard with Sinatra in the early 80s as a sequel to The Detective. Maybe that somehow got garbled into Schwarzenegger and Commando....

  • BMSFilms | October 8, 2012 3:36 PMReply

    This article makes no sense.

  • DHE | October 8, 2012 3:26 PMReply

    Fun Fact: Richard Gere was considered to play John McClane

  • Edward Davis | October 8, 2012 3:19 PMReply

    Brain fart between 1987 and 1997, sorry, brahs. Amended.

  • Joe | October 8, 2012 3:19 PMReply

    Seriously, how unprofessional do you have to be to leave such a basic factual error - followed by an egregious, obvious, baseless statement of a non-fact based on that factual error - up on your site for the better part of an hour? Does Edward Davis really believe that "Die Hard" came out around the same time as "Batman and Robin"? Does no one have access to IMDb? (I know, I know, finding out what year an extremely famous movie came out would require RIGOROUS research.) (Or basic common sense.)

  • Jesse | October 8, 2012 6:55 PM

    Shit, maybe I do as well

  • Jesse | October 8, 2012 6:52 PM

    Dude, you need to lean how to read.

  • Michael | October 8, 2012 3:15 PMReply

    "Schwarzenegger likely wasn't that interested anyhow (he was paid the exorbitant amount of $25 million to play the relatively small role of Mr. Freeze in "Batman and Robin," the year when Die Hard would have shot)."

    Um, what?

  • Chris | October 8, 2012 2:55 PMReply

    Yeah, dude, what the hell are you talking about? "Die Hard" and "Batman and Robin" were nearly a decade apart, as James said. Get your damn facts straight.

  • James | October 8, 2012 2:50 PMReply

    Die Hard was released in 1988, while Batman & Robin came out in 1997. Arnold did not choose Batman over Die Hard, they shot nine years apart.

  • Lemon | October 8, 2012 5:28 PM

    Proof? First of all you have no idea when Batman & Robin went into production. Nor do you know when Arnold was approached to star in it. Please go troll elsewhere.

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