HN Entertainment’s Nicholas Whitcomb spoke with director Nimród Antal earlier this week and the subject now has turned to his work on Predators. Antal talked about how he was approached to work on the film, his respect for writer-producer Robert Rodriguez, having a positive experience working on the film and how various ways they tried to add Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Dutch into the film.
HN: I do have several questions about your collaboration on Predators because that’s a film I love, and actually I’m just a big fan of the Alien and Predator universes in general. First off, I wanted to ask how did that come to you?
ANTAL: “I was approached, they had asked me if I was interested in putting my name on a list for potential directors for the newest Predator film. I had the poster on my wall as a kid, the original [Arnold] Schwarzenegger film’s poster. I was a big fan of the original film. I remember where I saw it, I remember how many times I saw when it was in theaters, so it obviously had a huge influence on me.”
“They had mentioned that Robert Rodriguez would be producing and for me, Robert what he had achieved with El Mariachi early on in his career it was something that I was trying to achieve with my first film Kontroll, he had always been an inspiration. I was super psyched about the opportunity. So my name got on the list and there were meetings with executives at Fox and there ended up a meeting with Robert and I was lucky enough to get the job.”
“He had a team of folks ready to go at Troublemaker Studios [in Austin, Texas], as far as a crew is concerned, he had a bunch of really talented people in place. I brought my director of photography [Gyula Pados].”
“There were two writers that had done a draft based on Robert’s draft, Michael Finch and Alex Litvak. We were tasked with doing another draft based on a draft that they had done based on a draft of Robert’s original script. I got involved in the third iteration basically and we took some of the key elements the Hunt, the planet itself, the hunt itself being brought to the planet, we brought all of those elements into our draft then tried to take some basically good ideas that had been in earlier drafts and just try to simplify it. I really tried to embrace the hunter culture of it all, from falconers to dogs being used for flushing to trapping. We were trying to build in as many aspects of hunting culture as we could into the storyline.”
“Like I said, when I got to Texas, Robert had this great team of folks ready to go, production designers, a lot of the VFX artists, and a lot of the team. We continued crewing-up, we cast it. Adrian Brody had approached us because he was also a big fan of the franchise he was very fond of the idea of making a Predator film. I was lucky enough to have a lot of talented folks from Mahershala Ali to Walton Goggins to Danny Trejo, [Danny Trejo] had been someone I had pushed for with Robert. Robert had done a lot of films with him at that point I was like ‘Man, I’d really love to have Danny in the film as well’. Robert and he obviously had a relationship leading up to that, so that gave me an opportunity to work with Danny, which was awesome. Topher Grace, Alicia Braga, Louis [Ozawa Changchien], they all really brought their A-game and it was a fun fun experience for me. We shot it in Hawaii and [Austin] Texas. I got to work with Greg Nicotero, I still have the predator masks from our film or one set of the predator masks, at least, because there were a few sets made for the production, but yeah Nicotero gifted me at the end of the shoot.”
“For me, the opportunity to work on something like that, that had been so dear to me as a kid and to be able to work with people that had inspired me it was quite a humbling experience and something I look back at with really fond memories.”
HN: And as you mentioned, you guys had an incredible cast of people you really don’t expect nature to be in a Predator film, [it seems like] you went for actors rather than the sort of stereotype, the sort of Arnold muscle-bound people, which I thought was awesome.
ANTAL: “We would have killed to have Arnold [Schwarzenegger] in the film, would have loved to have him come back. It’s funny, some of the criticism that came on early on was that it was too much of an homage too much of a nod to the original. What was interesting in that was we actually put in a lot of effort to avoid that very comment. One of our tools in our toolbox was casting and understanding that first and foremost that Arnold Schwarzenegger is such an icon and to put a guy in his place who is similar in psychic as far as muscular, that would have felt like a cheap kind of approach it would have felt easy. I think that we were striving to go against what had been established with casting a bit because we did have a lot of testosterone in the film. I think that the film does pride itself on that we weren’t trying to reinvent the wheel, we were trying to stay faithful to what the first two films kind of set up as far as a universe, we weren’t trying to go against that per say but we weren’t trying to replicate it [the original Predator] with casting someone similar to Arnold. I don’t think we would have been doing the film service by doing that.”
HN: Speaking of Arnold Schwarzenegger, I remember reading online that there was a scripted cameo for him in the film. Did you ever actually get in contact with him about that and how was that conceived?
ANTAL: “I believe that production had reached out to him and he was still governor at the time, I think that he was either still governor or just leaving the governorship, I’m not quite certain but it didn’t work out for whatever reason. I think that we had him potentially scripted as Nolan’s [played by Laurence Fishburne] character and then that changed, then there was a thought at the very end that another cage is dropped and Arnold is in that cage, so there were a few iterations of how we could have worked him into the story. It would have been awesome none the less, I’m a big fan of his to this day. It didn’t work out.”
HN: Was there any potential talk of bringing back Danny Glover as well?
ANTAL: “Yes, and I would have been really happy with working with Danny. I don’t recall what the considerations were as to why we didn’t pursue that but I would have loved to have him.”
We’ll be posting more from our exclusive interview with Nimród Antal where he talks more about Predators along with his thoughts on the Predator franchise.