Filming ‘Predator’ In The Mexican Jungle Sounds Like Something Straight Out Of A Nightmare

predator filming conditions nightmare

20th Century Fox

We hear all the time about how famous actors “suffer” for their craft and then we proceed to roll our eyes and say to ourselves, “Aww, poor baby, go wipe your tears away with the one of the bills from your wheelbarrow filled with cash.” That being said, there are times when actors are required to do things that most of us might look at and go, yeah, pass. And on even rarer occasions, the conditions are so bad that they last throughout the entire filming of a movie, which was precisely the case for the 1987 Schwarzenegger classic Predator.

The Hollywood Reporter recently published an in-depth oral history of Predator for its 30th anniversary and based on the stories a couple of the actors told about the filming conditions, they definitely earned their paychecks.

The movie, which was filmed in the Mexican jungle in the summer of 1987, sounds like it was an absolute nightmare to shoot.

Richard Chaves, who played Poncho, tells this tale of nope

20th Century Fox

A lot of it was raw jungle that we were running through when we were in the week rehearsal. And we took a break one day, and I checked the area out, you know, where I was gonna sit my butt down, and laid down, and next thing I know I am covered in red ants. I was bitten almost 100 times down both my arms, and went into a little bit of shock, was running through the jungle ripping my clothes off, butt naked. They had a water tank, and I went into the water tank and just doused myself. And I’ll never forget when the Mexican doctor came, and I have these welts, and he looked at it and he says to me, “You know, I never seen anything like this before”! (Laughs.) I think it was about three or four days before we started shooting, and I was so proud of my body because really, Arnold and Arnold’s really good friend Sven[-Ole Thorsen], who played one of the Russians in the palapa scene, they really put me together, and so I wasn’t gonna wear a long-sleeve shirt because my arms were really buff and everything, but then this happened.


But wait, it somehow gets worse…

The very first day [Arnold] got back was a 15-, almost 16-hour day and I was in the shower just filthy. And the phone rings and I said “Hello?” and it’s a woman’s voice, and she goes, “Is this Richard?” I said “Yes it’s Richard,” and she goes “What are you doing?” And I said, “I’m in the shower picking ticks off my balls!” OK? And she started laughing. And I said “Who the hell is this?” She goes, “Richard it’s Maria [Shriver, Schwarzenegger’s then-wife], and I’m just calling to invite you up to have dinner. I’m inviting everybody up to have dinner so you can meet me,” and then she started laughing again.

Bill Duke, who played Mac, also shared this unpleasant story…

predator filming conditions nightmare duke

20th Century Fox

We’re talking about hot heat — and humid heat. We’re not talking about 80 degrees. We’re talking about 90-something or more. We’re talking about having to wear this gear that is heavy itself, and then the guns and stuff, and mine was like a gun off a battleship machine gun. So you’re carrying your body weight, you have clothing on, and then you’re crawling through the jungle on your stomach and there are coral snakes and spiders and scorpions and a lot of different things.

Sounds like a blast. Jean-Claude Van Damme, who was originally supposed to the actual Predator, is probably glad he got fired before filming even started. Of course, the reason why he got fired is up for debate, but I like this story by Craig Baxley, the 2nd unit director/stunt coordinator, the best.

Joel [Hynek, visual effects supervisor] and I were walking down the hallway of the hotel together and Jean-Claude was walking toward us with his assistant. And Jean-Claude walked up and said, “Are you Joel Silver?” And he said yeah. And Jean said, “Well look at this!” And he jumped up in the air, I swear to God, did the splits with his legs straight out and his crotch was at eye level — and I’m 6 feet tall. He was there to play the creature, and a company called Boss had designed a creature. It had the head of an ant. And they spent an absolute fortune on this. And so they brought Jean-Claude out and they put the head on Jean-Claude, and Jean-Claude stood up and freaked out, and took off this $20,000 head and threw it on the ground and it shattered. And Joel said, “What the f— are you doing!” And he told Jean-Claude, “You’ll never work in Hollywood again! Get off my set!” So that was it.

Check out the entire piece here. It’s really well worth the read.