DG: What inspired you to want to revisit the Predator film series, as a director?
SB: I feel old. I’m fifty-six years old, and I didn’t see the time pass. It seems like yesterday I was back in the 1980s. I was a student at UCLA, and then there was Lethal Weapon, and The Monster Squad, and Predator. That was over thirty years ago. What the hell happened? I was talking to Fred Dekker about this, and I suggested that we should go back in time with this film. Let’s pretend that we’re making this film thirty years ago. Let’s make a 1980s war film that combines action, horror, science fiction. There’s no CGI. Then we’ll add in the digital effects, the FX shots, later. That was my vision for this film.
DG: What is the proximity, the relationship, between this film and the previous films?
SB: The second film happened. The Alien vs. Predator films happened. In this film, we see that Earth has noticed that all of these things have happened. The predators have been showing up on Earth for a long time, possibly since ancient times, so how does Earth respond to this in 2020? How do we prepare for the next alien incursion? An intelligence division has been established for the purpose of confronting the alien threat but also for the purpose of exploring the technological opportunities. Although the predators are hunters, killers, their technology suggests that the predator planet consists of scientists and warriors. We don’t have interstellar spaceships, obviously, so maybe the predators have some kind of think tank on their planet.
DG: How many Predator hunters are featured in this film, and how have the Predator creatures evolved since we last saw them?
SB: There are two predator creatures in the film. The predators that appear in this film are always deadly, and they’re really fast, and they’re always moving. There’s a rogue faction within the predator race, and some of the predators are really angry about what’s happened to them in the previous films. They’re angry because their warriors have, time and time again, been defeated by Earth’s greatest champions, beginning with Arnold’s character. They’re not happy about that, and they want to punch back.
DG: The Predator features an ensemble cast, which includes Boyd Holbrook and Jacob Tremblay. How would you describe the human dynamic that exists in the film?
SB: Every character in the film is a misfit. Quinn [Holbrook’s character] and his men are marginalized soldiers, post-traumatic stress disorder cases, who have been written off by society. This isn’t the crack team of commandos from the first film. As the film opens, Quinn’s life is in a holding pattern, and he’s trying to maintain a connection with his son, who exists within the autism spectrum. There’s a science teacher, played by Olivia Munn, and she’s also a misfit. All of the characters in the film are unsure of themselves.
DG: What was the biggest challenge that you faced during the filming?
SB: The challenge was to visualize parts of the film without being able to really visualize them. I’m talking, of course, about filming around the digital effects and imagining what’s happening in a scene while you’re filming against a green screen. I didn’t want this film to be a CG-fest. I had to wait for the FX shots to arrive and see if they matched what I’d been visualizing. They did. It worked.
DG: When this project was announced, speculation quickly grew about the possibility of Arnold Schwarzenegger reprising his character from the first film in this film. Did you talk to Arnold about this?
SB: Where is Arnold? It’s not a silly question, and I understand why people would wonder about Arnold’s character and whether Arnold could play a role in the film. I did speak to Arnold, and we toyed with the idea of Arnold appearing in the film. It would have been a cameo role for him, and that wasn’t something he was interested in, so we wished each other good luck, and then we said goodbye.
DG: Are you planning to do more Predator films?
SB: I am open to doing more films, but I would never make an announcement like that until I saw how this film has been received. That would be like having the wrap party on the first day of filming.
The Predator opens in theaters on September 14. Watch the final trailer here.