Director Nimrod Antal and Producer Robert Rodriguez Predators Press ConferenceWhat was the difference between coming up with such an inventive film like Control in a confined space where the whole thing is in a subway system and then having this whole world to play with? What did you find more challenging? Also, if you do a sequel, what’s the next title and what’s left?
Nimrod Antal: "Literally, clearly being in the jungle was very different than being in the Budapest subway system, but also figuratively, the freedom that I enjoyed in Control was something I’ve never been able to replicate here in the United States just given the system. This was the first film I’ve ever made, and I think it was because a filmmaker was producing it, I was allowed more freedom and I was given more love and more respect as a filmmaker than I’ve ever been given in the American film system. Control was a gift but Predators is the first American film that I’m like, 'Yes!' It also plays into the fact that I grew up with the Predator poster on my wall. Yes, I have action figures and I am a geek. That was a big deal for me."
Robert Rodriguez: "As far as the Predator title, I didn’t reference any of the other later pictures only because when I originally wrote this, those didn’t exist. I was writing this always as a sequel. In fact, Predator 2 had come out, but they didn’t want to go that direction. They wanted to get Arnold back. So when I wrote Predators, it was to forget that even Predator 2 was made. This is going to be like Aliens was to Alien, that’s what Predators is to Predator. So I’ll just tie those two together so all you would ever have to do is watch Predator and Predators and you would have a little complete thing. So yeah, what would the third one be if there was a third one? That’d be Predators 3, I guess. No, Predators 2. But I don’t know, Predators with a subtitle."
Robert, you mentioned you wrote this without considering the budget constraints as well as the logistics. How did you figure out how to make this film and did you have to compromise anything?
Robert Rodriguez: "Oh completely. When I first wrote it, it was just a writing assignment and you figure as the writer, since I’m not directing it and I’m not producing it, I should just give them as many ideas as possible and then they can figure out what they want to do and what they can’t. A lot of it was impossible because this was in ’95 and CG wasn’t that prevalent. A lot of it would have been impossible to do. I figured give them a lot of imagination and creativity to work with and then they can pick and choose whatever. One fifth of that would actually work because it was just humungous and ridiculously big. Again, I didn’t feel like I had to worry about it until they brought it back to me and said, 'We love this script. Can you go make it?' I was like, 'Well I don’t know how we can make it like that even with today’s technology.'"
"We had to cut out a tremendous amount of it. That’s what I loved about what Nimrod’s approach was. He knew how to come in and go, 'Okay, I like this part of it,' and he made that the movie. He made it about the chase and about the hunt and kept it very intense. We took out Arnold. We kept the idea of the planet, the crucified Predator, the hierarchy of the different clans, some of the other alien creatures that are being hunted, but other than that, it was a new story. And Nimrod worked really close with the writers to come up with this."
Whose idea was it to humanize the Predator that’s hanging from the post?
Nimrod Antal: "That was in Robert’s original draft, that crucified Predator. That was the one thing I remember reading in the script and immediately just latching onto, because we’ve built up this character so much. Now we’re going to build up this film and all of a sudden you’re expecting the Predator to explode out of this laser cannons flaring and spines being torn out, and the first time you see him, he’s defeated. We almost completely demystify the character off the bat and humanize him a little bit. That was all in the original draft and it was something that I loved off the bat."
Robert Rodriguez: "I so wanted to be there for the shooting of it when they first go in because I’ve thought so many different ways when I first wrote it of how they would approach him and how they would come up to it and how it would growl - and I wasn’t there that day. So then I was like, 'I wonder how he did it?' He did it so much better than I had planned. It was very exciting for me to see something that I had envisioned 15 years ago done by somebody else in a really great way, and I’m really proud of that and how that came together."
Is there something that you enjoy about killing Danny Trejo early in your movies?
Robert Rodriguez: "Do I kill him early in every movie? That’s true, Desperado he died pretty quick. This one he’s doing Machete which, of course, Machete never dies. Machete don’t die."
Nimrod Antal: "And that’s what he told me when I said, 'Hey, how about Danny?' Machete don’t die."
Robert Rodriguez: "We thought it would be really fun in a pop way. Remember, it’s like a Jesse Ventura-type casting to have Danny playing a variation on a Machete-type character. All the characters in my movies, he always plays some piece of cutlery. Razor Charlie in From Dust Till Dawn, Navajas in Desperado, and now in this one, he’s Cuchillo, butter knife. I thought again, just make a note, if Danny Trejo dies that early, then they’re all screwed. It kind of pretty much said what the stakes were in the film to do that."
Nimrod Antal: "I gotta say casting Danny in the film was hilarious too because Robert had a thing in the script where he said, 'A guy who looks like Danny Trejo.'"
Robert Rodriguez: "Oh no, the writers did that. They put 'a Danny Trejo type'. That’s why he got upset about it. You can’t just give a part to a Danny. There is no other Danny Trejo."
Nimrod Antal: "So wait, then Brian Bettwy, our [assistant director] gets a phone call from Danny. Brian has done all of Robert’s films and Danny calls Brian and goes, 'Hey Brian, I see in the script it says a guy who looks like Danny Trejo. Brian, I look just like Danny Trejo.'"