When writer/director/producer Robert Rodriguez was approached about overseeing an updated version of the Predator franchise, based on a script he wrote in 1994, he carefully considered who he would want to direct it, giving the nod to Nimrod Antal, whose debut feature Kontroll, which won the Prix de la Jeunesse at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival, had impress Rodriguez.
I huge fan of Predator, Antal spoke with us about taking over the reins of this iconic franchise and making Predators his own.
How bit a fan were you of the original movie?
Predator for me is my childhood. I was a true movie, and Predator, geek. I remember seeing Predator opening night at the Avco Theatre in Westwood, California, with a bunch of my classmates and it was quite an experience for me.
What was it like working with Robert Rodriguez on this?
This was the first film that I’ve every made, and I think it was because a filmmaker was producing it, where I was allowed more freedom and I was given more love and respect as a filmmaker than I’ve ever been given in the American film system. I also grew up with the Predator poster on my wall and, yes, I have action figures and I am a geek so that was a big deal for me.
You really captured the primal nature of the Predator in this movie, how did you do that as a filmmaker?
He’s the hunter, something we’ve lost touch with. Our society now hunts for sport, which is almost disgusting compared to feeding yourself, clothing yourself, what hunting was originally supposed to be.
I think in our earlier conversations with Robert there were a lot of things we wanted to incorporate and one was bringing back old school hunting techniques.
We also wanted to bring back the jungle and make sure that that was a character in itself and something that would be threatening.
Robert had a big concern about the jungles looking lush, and that was the last thing we wanted. We didn’t want this place where you were going to want get a Margarita and hang back. We wanted a threatening location where a simple image would feel threatening.
We tried to do that as well. We would always start from the original film. Our intention was to make something that fans would appreciate again, but something that would be able to stand on its own, taking the original film into consideration and what they achieved, that was something that we tried to mirror as much as we could without just redoing it.
Whose idea was it to include the crucified Predator?
That was in Robert’s original draft, and that was the one thing that I remember reading in the script and immediately latching on to. We build up this character so much, and all of a sudden you’re expecting the Predator to explode out of this laser cannon blaring and spines being torn out, and the first time you see him he’s defeated.
You almost completely demystify the character and humanize him a little bit. So that was all in the original draft, and it was something I loved off the bat.
Talk a little about the human ‘monsters’ in this movie.
The monsters in Predators are not necessarily who you think they are. The film is essentially about a group of people that you wouldn’t want to spend time with, and who are monsters of their own worlds. They’re disoriented, confused and paranoid, and they’re thrown into a situation that they don’t have control over, which is frightening for them.
The human ‘monsters’ face off with one another, only to learn that there’s a bigger (alien) monster in the jungle waiting for them. Their journey brings out their humanity.
Adrien Brody told me he had to fight for this role and persuade you that he could be an action hero.
His passion was refreshing. To see someone of his caliber really want something as bad as he did this. What I can’t stand is when you have these comfortable actors who have some success, and this guy came in saying, ‘I want this. Please give this to me. I’ll fight for it. I’ll prove you guys wrong if you have any doubt.’
Early on, we all knew the most important thing is to have great actors. When you’re making any film, you just have to have someone who brings a certain caliber of performance. I can make anybody took tough. I cannot teach them how to act. Robert and I were just really excited about Adrien because he’s a phenomenal actor. He understands the actor’s job is to become whatever you need them to become.
Did you actively try to put in things from the original movie?
I think first and foremost I was really lucky with Robert, because there was never much of a discrepancy between his opinion and my opinion as to where this thing had to go.
We knew early on that we wanted to incorporate elements that were going to give the original fans a smile, and we wanted to throw in as many nods as we could.
We also wanted to be really careful about the balance of that, and not have it just be a parody of or a redo of, we wanted the film to stand on its own.