Meryl Streep Almost Played Sylvester Stallone’s Daughter in a ‘Demolition Man’ Sequel

Sylvester Stallone’s career has run the gamut from Best Picture winners like Rocky to box office embarrassments like Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot. Then, somewhere in the middle lies many of his less prestigious but nonetheless memorable action movies. Demolition Man is one such film.

The 1993 sci-fi thriller pits Stallone opposite Wesley Snipes in a future that has seemingly become a non-violent utopia. Demolition Man features all the trappings of early 1990s action movies — cheesy one-liners and all — but the sequel aimed to bring in something very unexpected: Meryl Streep.

Sylvester Stallone in 'Demolition Man'
Sylvester Stallone in ‘Demolition Man’ | Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images

‘Demolition Man’ has become a cult classic for action and sci-fi fans

Demolition Man wasn’t exactly a huge moneymaker when it hit theaters. But director Marco Brambilla’s film has become a cult classic for a variety of reasons. Firstly, the movie captures exactly the shameless testosterone-fueled throwback old-school action fans miss these days. Plus, it features spirited performances by Stallone, Snipes, and a pre-Speed Sandra Bullock.

Beyond that, Demolition Man envisions a squeaky-clean vision of the future, a world wherein even swearing is a minor criminal offense. It also alludes to many events that had not yet come to pass when the film hit theaters. Perhaps most famously, Stallone’s character discovers Arnold Schwarzenegger launched a successful political career.

During the coronavirus pandemic, the film’s depiction of “social distancing” has only heightened its relevance. Characters steer clear of physical contact, including intimacy, and remote conferencing is commonplace. Although Taco Bell is not the only restaurant option, retail chains and restaurants are struggling. So perhaps the movie’s mentioned franchise wars are starting.

The creative team behind ‘Demolition Man’ had sequel ideas

The team behind Demolition Man was so confident in their vision of the future they hoped to develop a sequel following its release. Yet, such a project never came together. But co-writer Daniel Waters (Batman Returns) recently revealed to Vulture some details about what Demolition Man 2 would have entailed.

In fact, the idea for a sequel is established early in the film. After John Spartan (Stallone) awakes from cryostasis in the year 2032, he discovers his wife passed away in an earthquake. But Spartan’s daughter lives on. At one point, Huxley (Bullock) offers to look her up and facilitate a reunion. Spartan, realizing his daughter has moved on, chooses not to pursue it.

Although Spartan’s daughter eventually was earmarked for a potential sequel, the idea was nearly cut from the film entirely, Waters said. Actress Elizabeth Ruscio even played her in a cut scene. But some test audiences believed Huxley — who becomes Spartan’s love interest — would later be revealed as his daughter. So all mention of her was almost removed.

Meryl Streep was in mind as Sylvester Stallone’s daughter

Then producer Joel Silver had an idea that allowed Waters and his co-writers to keep the reference to Spartan’s daughter in the film, Waters told Vulture.

We thought, “Maybe we should cut out all mentions of the daughter.” Can’t do it. We need something. And then Joel Silver’s like, “Meryl Streep is the daughter [for the sequel]. She needs a big box office action movie.” I go, “No, she doesn’t.” But he was like, “If I get her to do it, will you come on?” … But yes, Joel did talk about a sequel.

Just a year later, Meryl Streep did wind up taking on essentially her only action role. In 1994, she starred opposite Kevin Bacon in the adventure thriller The River Wild. But according to Waters, no one ever contacted Streep to gauge her interest in a Demolition Man sequel. Of course, the project never came together anyway. So we’ll never know her response.

It’s hard to picture Streep fitting into the over-the-top lunacy of Demolition Man. But seeing her play Stallone’s daughter — given she’s just three years younger than him — would have added an interesting dynamic to the sequel. Since Stallone has reprised Rocky Balboa and John Rambo in recent years, perhaps he would be willing to play Spartan again now.

Someone better get Streep on the phone just in case.