With The Predator, director Shane Black has come full circle. It’s been 21 years since he played Hawkins in the original Predator movie and in that time he’s written some absolute smashes (Lethal Weapon, The Last Boy Scout), acted in some awful movies (Robocop 3, Fighting Demons) and directed two of the smartest films to come out of Hollywood in generations (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, The Nice Guys).
The first Arnold Schwarzenegger and Carl Weathers-starring Predator film is a stone-cold classic, one of the biggest hits of the ’80s and the bar by which all aliens-running-amok-in-the-jungle movies should be judged. The Danny Glover and Gary Busey-starring second, which, let’s be fair, is a totally different beast, is a fun sci-fi romp, and 2010’s Predators, with Adrian Brody in the lead role, revived our interest in the alien hunters (after the two, abysmal non-affiliated Alien vs. Predator spin-offs).
Black is now back directing and co-writing the latest instalment, starring Boyd Holbrook (you’ll recognise him from Netflix’s Narcos and 2017’s Logan), Moonlight’s Trevante Rhodes and Jacob Tremblay (the kid from Room).
In the new film, Black expands on the story of the Predators so far, taking in a government cover-up, genetically modified aliens and a group of military veterans trying to save the world from them. Here, Holbrook, tells us all about the movie.
Tell us about your role…
I play Quinn McKenna, he’s ex-Special Forces and now he’s basically doing contract work. He probably hasn’t got a lot really to live for, in the sense that he’s very detached from his son and he’s estranged from his wife. He’s kind of a rogue. He’s living pay cheque to pay cheque. If you’ve got a job in South America and you need somebody, he’s your guy. We find him in Mexico and he’s got these objects on him after a mercenary job that has gone wrong. He’s found all this Predator gear, these gauntlets, and these de-cloaking things and he needs to get them back home because no one’s going to believe him. He sends them to his son, but then he gets arrested and sent to a military psych ward for some evaluation, partly because the government is trying to keep the Predators under wraps. He’s aware of them, but there’s a cover-up. He has to team up with these guys who, in some ways, have all been kind of rejected and are all suffering from some form of PTSD. They call themselves “The Loonies” and they’re a throwback to the team from the 1987 movie.
Where does Room’s Jacob Tremblay come into it?
He’s Quinn’s son and they don’t have a close relationship. Mainly because Quinn doesn’t know how to connect with him or relate to him. I think that audiences will relate to the challenges they deal with as it speaks to some very human issues.
How did you end up with your part?
Shane [Black] and I sat down. I read the script and I talked to him a little bit about it. And we just kept a conversation going on. So that’s basically how it worked out.
How was it working with Shane?
He’s pretty brilliant. He has a way to hinge a scene that, whatever the subject matter, he finds these comedic beats. You have to be on your toes with him – really on your toes.
Was it a collaboration on set?
Oh, absolutely. The first day on set, we rehearsed a scene before lunch. Everyone was spit-balling ideas, coming up with lines, you know. We broke for lunch, and afterwards, Shane asked us to sit with him. He’d turned our spit-balling into a two-page scene to shoot right then and there.
Did you and the cast form a tight bond?
Yeah. I think in general, actors are pretty playful and empathetic people, so no one was a diva by any means on this one. You couldn’t have cast the film better because of the way it was to shoot. Augusto Aguilera is brilliant. Alfie [Allen] did something great with his character. Keegan-Michael Key’s had all this experience with sketch comedy and knows what works and what doesn’t. And then you have Thomas Jane, who’s doing this incredible character.
In amongst all the computer-generated footage, there are a lot of practical sets and locations. Does being on location help you?
Yeah, it really did. We were actually working in a real space. It’s so much better than reacting to something that is an ‘X’ on a wall or something like that.
Did you watch the original Predator?
I probably watched it when I was about ten. I thought it was terrifying. It was also just one of the great thrillers like Bloodsport, Rambo, all those sorts of macho films of that time.
The Predator is out in cinemas across Qatar.