Robert Rodriguez, Nimrod Antal and the cast of Predators reveal why they ain’t afraid of no reboot…
Robert Rodriguez (producer):“Do I have an opinion of the Alien Vs Predator movies? Yeah, just enough to go, ‘We don’t want to go that route!’ They killed off the Predators with the AvP movies, but they knew they had a classic Hollywood monster and wanted to bring it back. They needed a filmmaker that was a big fan. I am.
Back in the ‘90s, I was about to do Desperado and had some free time and my agent said, ‘Oh there’s a writing assignment at Fox for another Predator movie. So I jumped on that. I saw the original in the theatre with my older brother, who was into bodybuilding at the time, so we’d always go and see any Arnold Schwarzenegger movie. The audience was a little confused, because it started off as a Commando movie and turned into Alien. I just wrote any crazy, cool idea I could come up with. It wasn’t till last year they brought it back to revitalise the entire series, almost like they did with the Batman series.
I was working on Machete but Predators was going on at the very same time. It was fantastic. The studio wanted me to produce it so I picked Nimrod Antal to direct. He had such a clear idea of what he wanted to do with the movie: make it scary and make it about the hunt. We had to bring the script up to date, because mine was written so long ago it still had Arnold in it. Other than that we just had to come up with new characters.
The characters don’t know what they’re getting into – and we need the audience to feel that to rediscover this for the first time. I wanted to make the audience feel like they hadn’t seen five Predator movies. I consider this the second one. I always thought this was like Aliens was to Alien – you’re not trying to reboot it. If you’ve seen the first one, they connect in a nice small way, but it pretty much is a standalone.
What were the things I wanted to keep? Practical effects – that’s how the original was shot. I think it was important to keep the Predators are something tangible on set that the actors respond to versus acting around a CG thing. And if you can get an Oscar-winning actor in a Predator movie, take him! I don’t ever worry when someone like Adrien Brody hasn’t done hard action before. There’s a first time for everything. I’d done that in Desperado with Antonio Banderas, who’d done a lot of European art films. George Clooney was a paediatrician doctor in ER before From Dusk Till Dawn. You always go for the best actors because they make you believe everything they say and do. And he’s playing a mercenary, so it completely works that way. You won’t question it for a second when you see him in the movie.
I loved the atmosphere of the jungle that they had lost in Predator 2. I wanted to go back to that, which is why I had written it on another planet set in the jungle. They messed with the design so much. I wanted to keep the classic Predator that you haven’t seen since the first movie with Arnold. Then you could really compare it to the new tribe we have, which is much more brutal, scarier-looking, primal, just sadistic.
They’ve got all kinds of new traps and weapons, because we wanted to differentiate the Predators by their hunting tactics. So if one hunts by flushing out its prey then he’s a dog-handler. He has these Predator-hounds he sends out. Another one uses a ‘falcon’, a seeing device that flies around – anything it sees the Predator can see. You’re pretty much screwed if you’ve landed on that planet. You’re not gonna really survive. If you get away it’s just because they let you get away, just so they can figure out how they’re gonna kill you on the next round. They take their time. I can’t give it away, obviously. But the technology that they have involves… Torture.
It was great that we didn’t have to worry about needing to water it down to PG-13. They let us go ahead and do an R-rated version, because that’s what my original script was: clearly a very hard R. It’s strong. It needs to be scary. The first movie was more of an action movie. This is more of a horror film. It feels like these people are dropped on the planet to be killed by killers. Every few minutes something is happening. It’s pretty non-stop from the very beginning. They hit the ground in the opening scene, you’re on the planet and it’s go go go. That’s how you would feel if you were suddenly on a planet being hunted. You’re running from beginning to the end.
We shot in Hawaii and we wanted it to look like another planet, so we used areas that were not very picaresque. It’s always raining so there’s always a lot of mud and it hard to move around. I thought people were going to be breaking their ankles right and left, but no injures. It looks much, much bigger than it costs – the budget is along the lines of all my other movies. That’s why they’re putting it out in the summer. It’s a big, big summer movie. The world that we create with this suggests a lot of stories could be told. So yeah, if it works out, it ends with so many ideas and questions introduced that you could certainly go on and make several movies.
Are you going to get to see Predators go head-to-head with each other? Oh yeah. There’s a tribal war going on. I can’t tell you any more, but you will get to see the Predator kicking other Predators asses…”
Nimrod Antal [director]: “Homage not fromage”
“It’s a question of asking, ‘Is that cheesy? Does that feel false?’ The original got so many things right, so we tried to throw in as many homages as we could – everything from the original creature design to the original score – without stepping over that line. The first film had action in it but it was predominantly a suspense film. Suspense is something I felt was completely lacking in the other films, so that was the first thing I brought back. But at the same time, the action scenes are stunning. We have spine-tearing. Decapitations. And we use the word ‘Fuck’ more than twice.”
Adrien Brody: “Do the unexpected”
“For me to have an opportunity like this is a big deal for me. Regardless of the type of work I may be known for, I want to do things that are unexpected. So in one day I popped off 400 rounds of ammunition. It was amazing. Weapon of choice for my character is a fully automatic 12-gauge shotgun. I tell you, it’s pretty exhilarating. It also feels like you’ve been hazed. Like you’ve been punched in your bicep by 50 of your buddies. I loved that about the original, this endless firepower obliterating the terrain. When the shit hits the fan, it hits the fan.”
Danny Trejo: “The Four ‘B’s”
“You gotta remember, in order to make a good movie, you have to have the three Bs: babes, bullets and blood. And we got all three of them. I show up with two machineguns, a 9mm and a knife. But Adrien is a lot different from the first guy. I think he’s a lot better. The other guy was all about muscle and steroids, this guy is about brains. I like guns, but you get a little tired of watching somebody’s bicep. When you look at Adrien Brody, you can see him thinking. He has to outthink this thing.”
Topher Grace: “Start with the script”
I didn’t think I would be doing a Predator film. The real surprise to me was how great the script was. Then I read the script and I thought, ‘This is unbelievable.’ It’s a well-written character piece that really sucked me in before any aliens showed up. Which I think was what was great about the original. We’re waiting for a monster to come out of the woods and there’s a shot of the woods for like a minute – and I was getting scared. And it’s just a shot of the woods! It’s great storytelling. I thought, ‘This is the best kind of sequel to be in.’”
Publication: Total Film