We just saw more footage from Robert Rodriguez's and Nimród Antal's Predators at SXSW 2010 — including a clip featuring our first meeting with Laurence Fishburne's sole survivor. And Adrien Brody explained to us how he prepared to star in Predators. Spoilers explode below!
We got an exclusive sneak peek at two new trailers for Predators — they were both somewhat similar to the featurette that we posted this morning, but with extra footage and a bit more action. Among other things, we get a bit more of an intro to the major players, besides Adrien Brody's Royce. Walton Goggins' Stans, dressed in a prison jumpsuit, says that he was due to be executed two days ago. Mombasa (Mahershalalhashbaz Ali) and Nikolai (Oleg Taktarov) say they were in combat when they were snatched by a white light. And Isabelle (Alice Braga) says she was black ops. And then the badass tattooed Hanzo (Louis Ozawa Changchien) says merely, "Yakuza."
"We were chosen," says Royce.
At one point, Braga says "We've got to work together," and Cuchillo (Danny Trejo) replies, "Does this look like a cooperation-orientated group of people to you?"
There's a lot of running through the jungle, and a lush-looking waterfall, which Brody jumps off at one point. and there seems to be a fairly extensive scene of crawling through an underground space, lit by pale blue lights. Fishburne gives some advice on surviving, "If you want to survive, dig deep." And there's lots and lots of Walton Goggins running around acting crazy, and Goggins shouts, "Who's your daddy!"
Meet Laurence Fishburne
Also, we got a look at an unfinished scene, in which Brody and friends are confused by the death of a Predator (or something) that was hunting them. They think Braga's character shot the creature down, but she finds her bullet hole in a tree and says she missed. Just then, they hear the tell-tale sound of a Predator weapon charging up. Brody turns to see someone wearing a Predator mask, aiming a gun at his head.
The figure removes the Predator mask, to reveal Fishburne, looking insanely awesome and grizzled. Right away, Fishburne starts schooling the noobs. "You talk too loud," he whispers. "I smelled you as soon as you got here. If I can smell you, if I can hear you, they can too. There's a storm coming soon." Then he jerks his head, indicating for the others to follow him.
"Wait, who are you?" Asks Brody.
"I'm the one that got away," Fishburne says. "The one you don't fuck with." Heh.
Brody Went Method For Predators:
After we saw this footage, we went to a press conference with Rodriguez, Antal, and surprise guest Brody — who clearly felt like he had to convince us that he was the right guy to star in Predators. Brody told us that Rodriguez went to bat for him:
I know I'm not the obvious choice, i get that. I probably wouldn't have even been on the studio's list, even near the bottom. You can ask Robert, I'm very persistent. I'm very focused. I give my word that I know what I need to do to deliver a level of truth and authenticity with a role like this. I put on 25 pounds for this role, but that wasn't the point — they didn't hire me to be a body-builder. But in order to playful with it as well I should be strapped, but it's not the physical strength that outsmarts an alien with energy-based weapons and higher tracking skills, and a culture of hunting and trophy-hunting, you have to outsmart them.
And Brody talked about his preparation for the role:
I approached this with the kind of level of focus I would approach any of the roles that I've been given an opportunity to play... I think my intention, and the intention of hiring me to play Royce, was to delve into the kind of flawed tragic hero and not this kind of typical ... overtly physically imposing character... I did put on a substantial amount of muscle mass for the role, and the physical training was a big part of building to that character, [but it was also important] to prepare psychologically. We shot in Hawaii, and we shot in thousands of acres of tropical rainforest, and I had gotten permission from the owners of the estate to stay in the property... I didn't stay in a hotel... [Instead,] I isolated myself... My nightly ritual was poring over survival manuals and military and paramilitary training books. I was reading Sun Tzu. I was studying meditation. I was on a very strict diet. I wasn't drinking. I wasn't eating sugar. I wasn't having sex. I had to kind of go there, for me, because this was a tremendous opportunity.
And Brody professed to be a huge fan of the Predator series and of the genre. Brody got so steeped in his reading, he was suggesting ideas on set, like different types of traps his character could set to defeat the Predators — but Antal convinced him that having him defeat the Predators so easily would actually cheapen his character.
How To Make Predators Cool Again:
After umpteen Predator movies, Antal said it was very important to get back to the things that make the first film work, including the classic horror elements. "Trying to keep the monster in the shadows, more than throwing him in your face off the bat." In the first movie, we don't even see the cloaked Predator until 40 minutes into the film. But obviously in this film, we're introduced to "something" pretty early on. And Rodriguez added that as long as the characters are feeling real fear and apprehension, we'll be able to rediscover the Predators all over again through their eyes. "The characters are the eyes of the audience."
It's easy to look at the Predator sequels and point out flaws, but Rodriguez chooses to look at it as his film being in a position to see what didn't work in those movies and learn from that. Like, maybe Predator 2 shouldn't have been set slightly in the future, because that makes it harder to identify with. And maybe the AVP movies shouldn't have been quite so "ultimate fighting" focused.
Fishburne came to this film fairly late — Rodriguez and Antal realized they needed someone who could explain things to the other human characters, so they wouldn't have to figure out everything on their own. They were casting this character late in the game, and were thrilled to get Fishburne. "He was supposed to bring the sense of awe," said Antal, and even off-camera, Fishburne emanated a "sense of power."
As for the Predators themselves, they're almost all practical effects — there's very little CG in this film. Rodriguez and Antal said that the Predators' humanoid shape has helped them be such enduring characters, because you can project yourself onto them a bit. And the fact that they're guys in suits actually helps with that. Plus it's staying true to the 1980s original.
Even though this is a Fox picture, Rodriguez said the studio left him alone and let this be a Troublemaker Studios production. Fox told Rodriguez, "We want you to protect this movie from us. We want you to go down there and do it your own way." They wanted it to reflect a film-maker's vision, in the same way the Nolan Batman films do. Not having someone breathing down your neck and making demands doesn't just give you more freedom, says Antal — it also makes you work harder because you're energized instead of demoralized. (It was similar to the making of King Kong, added Brody — a studio film that felt like an independent film.)
There's some humor in this film, similar to the original film, but Rodriguez was adamant that it should be real humor and not "roll your eyes humor." There are "three or four beats in the movie, you'll be laughing." Mostly, the humor is used to misdirect the audience just before something terrifying happens, he adds. Also, you'll be hearing snatches of the original movie's Alan Silvestri score, "at the right time" to evoke a response.
As for Rodriguez's next projects, it doesn't sound like Red Sonja or the Jetsons are happening any time soon. And he referred to Sin City 2, somewhat vaguely, as a possibility. His actual next project is a fourth Spy Kids film, with all new kids and a more realistic feel — it will be the Casino Royale to the other Spy Kids films' For Your Eyes Only.