Aaron: So, leading up to Predators’ release there was a lot of speculation and talk as to whether or not Dutch would make an appearance in the film. In the one script of your incarnation of Predators that leaked, Arnie shows up in the end in a Predator ship and in Predator gear and I believe there was even talk that Laurence Fishburne’s Nolan would have originally been Danny Glover? I was wondering if you could tell us a little bit about how seriously those possibilities were thought about?
All true and specifically Arnie – we made a big push for at the time. He was finishing his governorship if I’m not mistaken or he had just finished. I think he was just about to finish that up so that wasn’t something that we could make happen. We wanted it and I thought it would have been awesome. I think it would have really tied things together and Glover came up into conversation as well so those were all true. Those were all things that at one point we were visiting as far as ideas.
I don’t recall how the Danny Glover thing played out again. We had entertained the idea of bringing both characters back in. I actually know that there were attempts made with Arnold at least to secure him in a role but as we know that unfortunately didn’t happen. I’ve met him since. I was able to meet him once before and I’m a huge fan of his so of course it would have been great. It would have been an awesome opportunity to work with him and I think it would have done the story good too. Maybe in the next life.
Aaron: Keeping on the topic of Noland then, who is Laurence Fishburne’s character…One of the things that I loved about Predators was it implies so much history and so much background that is just ripe for exploring in the expanded universe. And one thing in particular I’ve always wondered about is that drill that Noland’s living in? In the script that leaked I think it was just a cave and then when the film came out it was this whole drill rig. It kind of suggests that perhaps another race originally owned that moon or planet?
Yes, there was some incredible drilling going on over there and again just implying it was enough for us and I felt it gave this incredible breath to the world suddenly. When you see those strange devices and I think the intention there as well was, I think it started from a production design question of like “Okay are we just gonna be looking at dirt walls behind us?”. I think those are the conversations that led to ultimately “how about this crazy device embedded in the wall” and at that point in the franchise those kinds of things I felt were well-received. Just adding to the world of it all.
Aaron: Let’s talk working with the Predators themselves then. So from all the behind-the-scenes stuff, all the interviews that you were doing at the time, going into Predators I don’t believe you had much experience with working with visual effects and the fight sequence between the Predators in particular was a scene that you said you were most scared of filming. So I was just wondering could you tell us a little bit about your experience actually filming with the Predator suits?
It’s funny, the performers – their heads are covered in latex essentially so you can’t use your normal voice when you speak to them because they can’t hear you. The first time a Predator came to the floor I went over and I said something and he couldn’t hear me properly which I didn’t understand that at that moment. He looks at me and he goes what and he raised his voice. There’s this seven-foot-tall standing in front of me like raising his voice. It was an interesting moment.
No, I mean I was in awe and maybe the fight sequence I was concerned with. This goes back to how much do you show of a monster and any moment that a viewer has an opportunity to go “it’s a guy in a suit” you’re not doing your job well so I felt maybe concern regarding how to approach that purely from a “man we got to pull this off” and it has to be believable and it’s got of course to be visceral and powerful. I mean it had to serve many masters. I think maybe that’s why I was concerned going into it.
Aaron: I remember hearing it and it was about the concept of making Isabelle, Alice Braga’s character, an alien? I remember there being some talk of her being a shapeshifter but I can’t remember where this came from?
Actually, I do think I remember that. I think that was my idea and it was shot down. I had an idea and I don’t recall where I wanted to go with it. I think that I was pumping with plausibility as far as… certainly we wouldn’t have any sort of like romantic relationship in the middle of this madness between them and I think that some of the script had a bit of like flirtation going on that I felt was… this wasn’t buying it in the situation like that.
It’s like “come on man” and I know that it’s fun and sometimes you have to exaggerate a bit but it just didn’t feel plausible. I was having trouble with her relationship with Royce and I thought I was being creative with it. It was shot down as an idea. I still think that I had a cool solution or fix and maybe it had something to do with the finale as well but I think that idea came from me and I couldn’t convince the powers-that-be.
Aaron: A complaint amongst some people was that Predators was a remake of the first film. You’ve spoken in the past about making certain creative decisions as to not to be seen as remaking the first film. What do you think of that considering you’ve deliberately tried not to be seen to be doing that?
First of all, I respect everybody’s opinion and I myself have films that I am fond of, that friends of mine dislikes. I have films that I hate with a passion. There are a few of those and I have friends who loved those films so first and foremost I respect everyone’s opinion. Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion. As far as myself, I put a lot of effort into it. I put a lot of energy into it and I know my intentions were in the right place. I know that I was coming at it as a fan and I was coming at it trying to ensure that we had the best film at the end of the day and a film that fans would love or fans would like so I can promise even those that that didn’t care for the film.
I can make them a promise and say that I really did give it my all. Their retort “maybe I’m a shitty filmmaker” or whatever their response is and again everybody’s entitled to their own opinion but I was surrounded by a group of talented folks. I really did give it my all and I am proud of the product that we have at the end of the day and I’ve received hot and cold for the film. Of course on a human level it’s like yeah man I put in years of my life and I put in a lot of effort a lot of love and of course when I hear a comment that I feel is unjust or I feel is off, it rubs me the wrong way but at the same time I know where my heart lies and I know how much love I gave it so that’s what I have to rely on.
But as far as far as people misconstruing homage to… and it’s a fine line, by the way, clearly and it’s a balance that you’re trying to find but one of my favorite moments in the film are some of the moments that recall a feeling from the first film. The very reason we’re all here in the first place. I mean we’re all watching Predators because of Predator and I think that I would be doing a bigger disservice if I turn it into a comedy or I would be doing a bigger disservice if I turn my back to it and say I want to do something so original and different that it no longer resembles why we’re all here in the first place.
So I have an understanding as to sometimes it can be too much, you can feel that the homage is too much but I think like I said, we were all there. Everyone sat down to see that film because of the first and I think you owe the first the respect and you owe the first the love it deserves. There’s so much difference in it that I also found it odd that that was an argument but you can say you don’t like my film or that they found the pacing to be off and that’s valid as well but listen casting the film had a lot to do with trying to go against the grain.
I mean there were at the time and are now a lot of guys actors who are big and cut and strong and they have continued the tradition of what Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger represented in our generation or the generation that grew up watching those films. We have the iteration then ten years ago and there are iterations of them currently and I think that would have been a bigger disservice trying to mock the original cast by putting in just guys who were buff.
I mean that would have been doing everybody again a disservice because I think that we were trying to do something that was different and original but we were very conscientious of our roots and very conscientious of why we’re all here. I want that click sound the same. I want his vision when it comes up to have that same effect as a filmmaker because I’m making a Predator film. As a fan I find sometimes I’m rubbed the wrong way when I’m sitting into a franchise that I know well that represents certain things and suddenly I’m faced with something that’s very different.
What we were trying to do again was just further expand upon a universe, not change it. Not change the foundations of the structure, just build onto it. That’s what our intention was. I think that opinions have changed as the years of the past. I’ve noticed that as well that some people have more love for it now or people’s opinions have changed but for the people that didn’t like it or fans that didn’t care for it, from the bottom of my heart, I gave it my best go.
Adam: So was there anything you really wanted to do on Predators but just weren’t able to? Any cut scenes you would have preferred to have included in the film?
There’s sequences that I would have now… at the time we were slammed and there was just no way we could give it more time but if I would have had a few more days with Noland and that whole sequence and I think that we could have done a bit of a cleaner job around that area of the film. I think that these again are things that don’t matter to the viewer at the end of the day. You watch a film and you determine whether it’s good or not and what transpired behind the scenes is irrelevant. No one really cares. All that matters is what they’re seeing on the screen but we had a slam schedule. We shot the whole thing in forty some odd days if I’m not mistaken. It was something wanting to be bigger and to have the spectacle that we had and the suits and everything else that slows production down. You always want more time, I guess.
Aaron: When you look back at your experience on Predators, are you happy with that final result?
I’m very proud. I am happy with the film and I’m proud of it and I’m proud of the people that I had the opportunity to work with. So with time and with distance and it was a hard thing for me to make and it was a hard thing to go through because you’re trying your hardest and the stress involved and all that. But at the same time I feel like it’s one of the biggest gifts I received in my life to be able to partake in a film in a universe that I grew up loving. It was awesome and I’m so grateful. I’m so grateful for the opportunity.
Adam: We never got to see what happened to Royce and Isabelle after the screen faded to black. I believe Adrian Brody and Alice Braga were contracted for a follow up but unfortunately that never happened. Did you put any thought into where you might take the potential sequel?
Given that there was never any real movement regarding a sequel from the studio, I never really wanted to allow myself to kind of dream where it was going because it would have killed me. We had ideas when we were finishing it up and Robert had some ideas about where to go with it. I had my own ideas about what we could do with it but we never were able to sit down and share those ideas because there was never any real serious movement from the studio.