Vital Thrills got a chance to talk to the cast and crew of the highly-anticipated new Prey movie, the newest entry in the Predator franchise coming to Hulu. The film will be available to stream on August 5 as a Hulu Original in the U.S., Star+ in Latin America, and Disney+ under the Star banner in all other territories.
We talked to Prey movie stars Amber Midthunder (“Naru”) and Dakota Beavers (“Taabe”), as well as director Dan Trachtenberg and producer Jhane Myers.
Set in the Comanche Nation 300 years ago, Prey is the story of a young woman, Naru, a fierce and highly skilled warrior.
She has been raised in the shadow of some of the most legendary hunters who roam the Great Plains, so when danger threatens her camp, she sets out to protect her people.
The prey she stalks and ultimately confronts turns out to be a highly-evolved alien predator with a technically-advanced arsenal, resulting in a vicious and terrifying showdown between the two adversaries.
Prey was written by Patrick Aison (Jack Ryan, Treadstone) and also produced by John Davis (Jungle Cruise, The Predator).
Director Dan Trachtenberg spoke about why he decided to do this project now. “Why now? Because it just took this long to make this movie. I started developing this maybe a year after 10 Cloverfield Lane came out. And the last movie came out in theaters. And then, the Fox-Disney merger happened. And all of those things really delayed this from getting going.
“But the main inspiration behind it was sort of a confluence of a couple of things. One really wanted to make a movie that was primarily action-driven, mainly told visually, but not wanting to that just be fun, just be a good time, to wanna inject that with heart and emotion.”
Trachtenberg added: “And so, the idea to pair the engine of a sports movie, of an underdog story with an action movie was a part of the genesis of this. And then, it became, well, what if the story could focus on characters that normally are not the heroes of the movie that they’re in? So that, the watching of the movie could be linked to the experience that the characters go through.”
“So, that led me down, I think, remembering something from early in my childhood when I was not allowed to watch R-rated movies and being in the minivan on the way to a karate tournament, and all of the sixth graders had just seen Predator. And I was not allowed to see it. And they described the entire movie to me on the trip to the karate tournament.”
The filmmaker said that “one thing they said that really stuck with me was there was a fight on a bridge over a waterfall between Billy, the Native-American tracker, and the Predator. Then, years later, I saw the movie, and that scene was not in the movie.
“And I’d always wanted to see that and really thinking about, oh, we’ve seen a lot of movies that are focused on Arnold Schwarzenegger and that kind of hero. What if we focused a movie on a different kind of character? So all of that sort of swirled and came together into the genesis of this movie.”
Dakota Beavers talked about the Prey movie being his first project: “I’ve always wanted to do acting, but honestly, I just didn’t really think it was in the cards ’cause I knew nobody in the business. I didn’t know how it worked. So I was just playing music and working at T.J. Maxx, man. I wasn’t a fancy man. I’m still not a fancy man. But I enjoy doing this kind of stuff now.
“Yeah, so I was just playing music and doing my thing. And I auditioned for this other movie that got canned because of, you know, COVID. And I didn’t hear anything for the longest time, and then I got an email that said hey, I want you to audition for this small part in this movie. And I was like, okay. Long story short, it ended up being this show. And I don’t know why they hired me. But I’m forever happy that they did.”
Amber Midthunder talked about the challenges of making the Prey movie: ” You know, I don’t feel like I’ve said this to anybody, my immediate reaction, ’cause I auditioned for this movie, originally, in early 2020, like pre-pandemic, Dan and I met. And then it disappeared, like similar experience to Dakota kind of it, like, disappeared from my life for a while, and then it came back.
“Then it was, like, oh, hey, it was under, you know, like a working title. And somebody said, oh, this movie is back. And I think they want you to audition again. I was like, what is that? And I was auditioning, I didn’t know what it was. Somebody told me it was Predator, and I cried.
She added: “And I had not had the job yet. And it wasn’t even like good tears. It was scary. It was like scared tears. I just at the concept of how big everything seemed, and when I read the script for the first time, I remember reading 30 straight pages of action.
“Like it was just action description for like, so… I was like, how long is this? And still, somehow, I didn’t realize what that would actually feel like in your body when you’re there, all of us together.”
In terms of historical accuracy, producer Jhane Myers said: “It was as historically accurate as we can get it because if you think about the time when this was, this was, you know, there weren’t a lot of photographs and paintings. You know, just some of the paintings that were out were kind of slighted, like, if somebody could only paint in one style.
“So, for me, that was amazing because it gave us a little bit of leeway. But being a traditional artist as a producer, and with all my many hats, I was able to really infuse it with all things Comanche, whether it’s the color of the earth paints that we use, whether it’s the designs, whether it’s the twisted fringe, you know, whether it’s fighting style, whether it’s language, all of that just came together.
Myers added: “So, for me, it was a dream. I mean, there will never probably be another project unless we do a sequel, Dan, a sequel to the prequel that, that would ever, you know, cross my path where I could use everything that I grew up learning.”
Trachtenberg was also asked about something small that fans should look out for in the Prey movie. He said, “Hmm, I can think of a slightly less meaningful answer, but a fun answer for fans of Predator is the way in which Taabe, Dakota’s character, is cut when he gets cut. It’s in a very specific way.”
Jenna Busch has written and spoken about movies, TV, video games, and comics all over the Internet for over 15 years, co-hosted a series with Stan Lee, appeared on multiple episodes of “Tabletop,” written comic books, and is a contributing author for the 13 books in the “PsychGeeks” series including “Star Wars Psychology.” She founded the site Legion of Leia and hosted the “Legion” podcast.