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.