It’s the 30th anniversary of the original Predator hitting our screens, and hearts, and so we thought we’d celebrate with a special edition of How’d They Do That? and dive behind the scenes amongst the forgotten stills and videos from the making of one of cinema’s greatest action movies!
Predator started out as a response to a joke. Apparently right after Rocky IV was released, the joke around Hollywood was that Rocky had defeated everybody possible on earth and should a fifth film be made, he would need to fight an alien. Screenwriters Jim and John Thomas ran with this and wrote the first draft, titled ‘Hunter’. Joel Silver & 20th Century Fox picked up the script and Predator was born.
Predator is an action classic, filled with Schwarzenegger one-liners and fantastic creature effects by Stan Winston Studios. But it was a long road before the mandible mouth appeared. Originally, the Predator was going to look completely different. When Predator started production, Boss Films were contracted to designed and create the titular creature. Check out the original design below:The design, whilst looking completely out of this world, didn’t end up being exactly what the production needed. The leg design ended up being impractical – not allowing the Predator to really jump or move in the way that was originally envisioned
Amazingly, Jean-Claude Van Damme was cast as the creature in this form – one of his first jobs in Hollywood. Below is a shot with Van Damme in the suit. The suit is coloured red as this was a shot where the Predator was cloaked and running through the jungle – the creature would be replaced in post production.
Ultimately, the creature wasn’t working the way that was originally intended, and the filmmakers then enlisted Stan Winston and his crew to design and build a new creature. Check out the below video from Stan Winston School of Character Arts, discussing the original design.
Once Stan Winston Studios got involved, the creature became the Predator – the snarling monstrous extraterrestrial that we know and love today. Along with the new creature design came a new performer. 7’2″ actor Kevin Peter Hall was cast and enlisted in bringing the Predator to life. Below is Kevin in the full Predator costume, with the some of the crew from Stan Winston Studios:The costume was not without its challenges. It was heavy and off balanced. With the full mask on, Kevin couldn’t see, and in one take, accidentally hit Schwarzenegger during a fight scene. Between takes, the front face could be removed to provide some visibility to the actor:In between killing trained military squads and bleeding out (which by the way, the creature’s blood was a mix of KY Jelly and the stuff from inside glow sticks), the Predator likes to pose dramatically:What good is a villain, if he doesn’t have great heroes to go up against? Arnold Schwarzenegger and his squad (including Jesse Venture, Bill Duke, Carl Weathers & even The Predator and Iron Man 3 screenwriter Shane Black) sweated themselves silly in the jungle during the making of this film. Most of the characters wind up with some pretty amazing deaths (spoilers.) Below, Carl Weathers’s bloody stump has some makeup applied to it for his final sequence against the Predator:Finally, check out the below video reunion from the crew at Stan Winston Studios on the making of this film. Its really great to hear from these amazingly talented effects artists on talk about the work involved in creating some of cinemas greatest creature creations:
Hope you enjoyed this look at the creation of Predator. As always, if you have an idea for a film to have us check out – please feel free to let us know in the comments below!
Until next time – keep watching, and asking yourself How’d They Do That?!