Last week I had the opportunity to see Nimrod Antal’s Predators and participate in two press conferences after the screening. While I can’t say much about the movie, know that the highlight of my time at Collider thus far was telling Antal to his face how much I really liked this movie. We’ve already posted the press conference with director Nimrod Antal and producer Robert Rodriguez. Today we’ve got the actors press conference with Adrien Brody and Walton Goggins.
In the film, Brody and Goggins play characters that have literally been dropped out of the sky onto an unfamiliar planet where they are hunted by the film’s titular characters. Brody plays Royce, an American mercenary and Goggins plays Stans, a death row inmate just days away from his execution. While many people have doubted Brody’s ability to star in an action film, I believe Brody’s performance will pleasantly surprise all the doubters. To see what Brody and Goggins had to say about preparing for their roles, the first time they saw the original Predator, filming on location and much more, continue reading. Predators hits theaters this Friday.
Question: You’re probably getting a lot of questions about physical transformation, getting into shape to play Royce, I’m wondering more about the process up here, to get into his head, or is that inseparable from the physical?
Brody: Thank you for pointing out that there is more to it then physical abilities. They do go hand in hand, it’s an interesting thing and its always surprising to me how much of an emotional and psychological transformation ensues with the physical transformation. I experienced that also with The Pianist. Obviously if you feel strong and look good, your confidence level grows. And vice versa. And I remember that in addition to feeling strong I had restricted my diet in a way and my lifestyle in an effort to harness everything that I had in my power to be ferocious and keep that contained. And for the first time since college I had lifted really heavy weights to put on some size and I think that is a very different workout process then I’m used to and that creates additional testosterone and your body’s chemistry changes. But again I felt that that physical transformation was important, I spent a lot of time cultivating the qualities that I felt Royce would possess that put him in a leadership position. I poured over military manuals and field guides and even read, it’s interesting, Walton actually gave me a book from Thich Nhat Hanh, a Buddhist book, a book on Buddhism, and I was also reading Sun Tsu and another kind of Eastern philosophy and just as much as I could to kind of create someone who has a sense of control and awareness and awareness in the moment and the ability to not let the fear that would naturally ensue, to not let that paralyze him but to actually propel him into being a warrior and the way you have that is from technical and tactical prowess.
Goggins: And Stans on the other hand, he digressed, I just read Playboy! It’s interesting, the thing about the physicality for actors, you have to think about, once you kind of get that down, then the rest of it starts to fall into place and for me, Stans is a guy who’s incarcerated for the better part of 20 years and I didn’t really think about this until I got there. Having thought about his time in jail there was one piece that I kind of missed and I talked to Nimrod about it on the first day and I said “you know, Stans hasn’t walked for more than 6 feet in one direction for 15 years except maybe once a week or something like that to be taken to the shower. He’s not socialized. He’s not around people.” And so it was, I guess my preparation was almost the antithesis of Adrien’s in that this is a guy who’s probably never been in the woods, much less the jungle, so it was a matter of, he has Stan Smith high top Converse prison-issued tennis shoes on and all of it’s weird. His walk is weird. You know, just walking for miles, that’s crazy. I was in a cell yesterday. This doesn’t make sense. So it was, my physical preparation was the lack of physical preparation, which was really interesting for me as an actor. That’s never happened before.
Adrien, we just learned that you were originally up for another role before you got the lead in this, before you convinced them. Between this and Splice and High School you seem to be really redefining yourself as an actor and I was wondering if you could talk about that and the different roles you’ve been taking recently.
Brody: It’s surprising to me sometimes when people are surprised at my choices. It seems that they’re more surprised as of late but as an actor I’ve made a conscious decision to do my best to not repeat myself so I keep it interesting, the process for myself and for the people that have seen my work. I’ve looked long and hard for an opportunity like this, it’s not something that I just decided upon lately. It’s a challenge I think when you establish yourself as a certain type of actor or an actor that has not had the opportunity to be seen in a physical role like this or in an action film and to win the endorsement of the studio, which I understand is making practical business decisions as well. I’m grateful that I had the support of Robert initially and Nimrod and there was interest in another role that didn’t appeal to me but I look at this as an opportunity to do something really special within a type of film that I love and that I feel sometimes historically Hollywood has had an overreliance on physical brawn as the deciding factor, as a way to portray a strong man. But that strength has to come from within. And I felt that it’s very important that with today’s audiences with young people who are unfortunately very familiar with what young soldiers look like and they’re not dissimilar to my build and I think military leadership comes from a tactical and technical confidence and skill set and an intellectual strength and a self-reliance and all these qualities that do make him a leader. And yes I did feel that I had to make a physical transformation because I think on one level it’s exciting for an audience to see that and I like to see that, I like to see a…even if the character is villainous, a heroic character look strong. But I didn’t want to rely on just that transformation for me to convey what I feel is necessary in portraying a leading man in a film. So it’s a big coup for me. It’s a big deal for me. And I’m very protective of this material. I’m very protective because I’m a fan of the original. I’m also respectful to fans and wanted to give them what they wanted and hopefully elevate the material as well.
It’s always that you’re reading about you’re gonna be running through the jungle and fighting aliens and stuff like that but I’m just wondering for each of you, was there a moment when you were out there working on location and everything where it was one of those days where it was extremely hot or grueling or whatever, was there any particularly challenging time for you in making this?
Goggins: I don’t know that there wasn’t a day that wasn’t challenging, honestly. The movie started off in Hawaii and it was 95 degrees and 80-95% humidity and we were all soaking wet for most of the day and where we were filming I think the biggest predators that aren’t seen in the movie are the mosquitoes which were enormous and you can’t really sit down, everyone’s uncomfortable. It’s very hard to work in a situation like that, not just for the actors but for the crew. It’s very difficult to set shots up. And then we left Hawaii and went back to Austin where it was warm for two days and then it dropped down to the 40s, to the 30s and then to the 20s but you have to match the movie so we were soaking wet, we would get sprayed down before every take. When it’s 20 degrees outside. It was very physically challenging I think for all of us and Adrien had it the worst. Everyday was tough. I will say that there was one day, speaking to what you said about reading the script and looking at jumping over waterfalls and everything that’s like a child’s dream, right? There was one day where that actually crystallized for all of us at one moment. And we were looking at the stunt men doing high falls, like an 80 foot fall off a waterfall and we had the opportunity to just jump in the water and come out of the water as if we had just made the fall and we looked at each other and we said “this is really happening. We’re really characters in a Predator sequel. We all hugged and jumped up and down and were screaming. It was a very unique experience as an actor to experience that, people that were in your foxhole.
Can you guys talk a little bit about any [deleted] scenes that you shot that we might see on the DVD release of the film? And also in terms of the future, Adrien, without spoiling too much [would you be interested in being a part of a sequel?] *Note- question slightly altered to remove spoilers.
Brody: Well a lot of that is determined by the success of the film and I don’t think that far ahead. I think the idea of reprising a role and going further into that character sounds interesting to me and is something I haven’t had an opportunity to do and it would be exciting to watch a character kind of progress or deteriorate. And that’s exciting for an actor. And I thoroughly enjoyed playing Royce. Again, part of the attraction is I’m often drawn to material that affects me on an emotional level and the characters are dealing with things that are challenging and that I would question and that I’m not necessarily familiar with and what I loved about Royce is that he had this emotional hardness that most of the characters I’ve played don’t come close to possessing and that’s an interesting state of mind to cultivate and stay in. But what was the other…did I handle most of that for you? Deleted scenes! Umm, its hard to…I’m sure there’s stuff that didn’t end up in the film, I’m sure there’ll be things. I’ve seen it once and I was kind of awestruck at both loving the film and having this simultaneously being so proud to be in it. I was so excited. It brought me back to being a child and watching Predator and being like “I love this fucking movie!” and then “that’s me in it!” It was so exciting, so exciting. It was a gift when I saw it. So I kind of wasn’t dissecting it, I was looking for where we might screw up but I didn’t dissect it.
Goggins: You know there are casualties, scene casualties in everything you do and things that you were pretty proud of on the day and things you may have seen a cut version of that don’t make the film. But it’ll be on the DVD and I think that it was across the board, little scenes here and there. There was one scene for Stans that I was really disappointed that didn’t make it but I understand why. It will be on the DVD. It was a scene where Stans goes up to Alice Braga’s character and it’s very funny and heart warming and just basically makes a pitch that “we’re gonna die, I know we’re gonna die and I haven’t had sex with a girl in a long time, please can I at least just kiss you?” And she shuts him down and he walks away. But it was very funny.
Brody: He was not as polite as he sounds! Believe me!
Brody: I was probably 14, opening weekend, smoking cigarettes in the front row in Queens. I remember the theater, I remember one of my really good friends who was with me and probably the other two kids, my little crew that we used to…whatever, we were there, opening weekend. Doing our Schwarzenegger impressions for the rest of the week. It had a profound impact on me as an adolescent.
Well continuing with that, there’s sort of a fine line or there can be between action hero and camp and you spoke a lot about characters that have emotional resonance, at any point did you want to push it into camp? Or did you want to go deeper?
Brody: Of course, no no no, well it’s tempting under the circumstances. You have to really have a lot of self-control. Always as an actor you have to rein it in because sometimes even having a sense of humor about certain things can distract you from having a cleaner, purer character. Obviously certain films require it and are fun, I mean I did a very broad comedy called High School where I’m playing this…the Francis Ford Coppola of the weed growing industry. I mean and that character is as broad as it gets but again I felt that it was important that that character be intimidating as well, even though it was very comical. It’s a fine line, you have opportunity with certain lines that you have to be playful with but for the most part you have to rein it in and be sincere. You can’t just, it can’t be an external thing or else it feels like an external thing unless that’s the whole tone of something that you’re doing but that hasn’t necessarily appealed to me. I haven’t found a role that spoke to me like that. And again I think I explained at length what was important for me and also I want to create a character that young people today can relate to, that they can believe in, that is not superficial and not a superhero but someone who is flawed and tragic. I mean this is a man who has suffered tremendous loss, both of his own soul and of people that were dear to him in the path to get to where he is. Being a survivalist in general is a very isolated, very lonely place to be. You above anyone else. And that’s what he’s grappling with. He’s lost most of his humanity but a little of it remains. So for me to squander it by kind of goofing off would be a waste. Like I said earlier, this means too much to me to kind of play with it. I take that responsibility and I take that very personally and again I feel that’s very important for me to deliver that to the audience and for them to have that when they go see a film.
Goggins: I think that’s a testament to you as an actor. I’ve had an opportunity to work with a lot of my heroes and see the way they approach the work and comedy is serious business and drama is serious business. And whenever you’re on location and were working or whether you’re at home working, you’re there to do a job and that requires an extraordinary amount of focus and if you don’t take that serious go home because there’s a lot of extra people standing in line that can probably do just as good of a job.
It’s not that you’re not taking it seriously, it’s like you know Schwarzenegger loved saying “Hasta la vista baby”. You know he did. So it’s just about like, is there a moment where like…
Brody: It’s a tonal thing. I think this is a darker storyline. Like I said there’s room to keep things entertaining and there’s room for moments of lightness and playfulness with the work. But again the general theme here is to be rooted in reality and create a sense of constant threat level and something looming over all of us and I think it’s not that, it’s not meant to be that.
Goggins: But there are many one-liners in this movie as well, Stans’ line “die you space faggot”. I mean you gotta say that and sell it and yeah I had a great time saying that! I had a great time saying “your ass is awesome”! I had a great time saying “I can’t wait to get home and do a bunch of cocaine”! But tonally it kind of fits in the story and you pick your places and hopefully you don’t wink at the audience unless that’s what’s required.
One of the many things I loved about this movie is that you were all sweating and there was blood and you were all dirty and grimy and it’s something you don’t really see in big summer movies like you used to in the 80s. Maybe some of it’s the director but I’m wondering if the actors were just disgusting like bloody and sweaty and…
Brody: [Goggins] got pretty grimy. He was like Pig Pen, like there were bugs, I would stay away from him because there would be swarms of insects coming to the stage blood. That blood is a sugar based blood and he was covered in it.
Goggins: Stans gets his ass kicked by pretty much everything on the planet. Look, you’re an actor getting the opportunity to be on an alien planet and get chased by Predators. What greater thing can an actor find himself in? So yeah I think there was a lot of joy in, let’s bring it on, this isn’t about looking pretty, lets get chased. And I think we reveled in that. I got a lot of joy out of it.
For a lot more Predators coverage including movie clips and more interviews, click this link.