Thomas Harris chats with The Predator star Boyd Holbrook…
Alone in a subterranean screening room in a hotel somewhere in Soho, I found myself giggling uncontrollably at Shane Black’s The Predator. Turned out that I’m one of few to actually have a real soft spot for Black’s ramshackle, thoroughly nasty take on the 80s genre classic. It’s a Black film fed through the intestinal tract of a killing machine.
I was lucky enough to talk to star Boyd Holbrook about his experiences…
Could you tell us where we find your character Quinn?
He’s in Mexico as a contract soldier and he’s trying to retrieve someone who’s been kidnapped when a spacecraft crashes and he goes to check it out. Then all hell breaks loose.
It’s a really big ensemble piece and it’s impeccably cast. What was it like being in that group; the rapport feels very natural….
Yeah, yeah it was. I mean working with some pretty talented people, Gusto [Aguilera] is a very talented guy, Thomas Jane, Sterling Brown, Keegan [Michael-Key], all these guys are really great actors and I was just really happy to hold my own with so many of these guys.
I adore Shane Black’s writing, was there much of a collaborate process prior to shooting?
Yeah, you can only really write so much on the page. I think a lot of Shane’s witty legendary humour came from spontaneous improvisation on set so really you just throw caution into the wind and go for it.
And was there a lot of improvisation?
We did actually rehearse quite a bit, for example the first day of shooting he got us Loonies together and we just talked about the scene and what was going on. Then we broke for lunch and Shane went off and wrote a two/three page scene and we’d spend the rest of the night shooting it. That was day one of a 60/70/90 day shoot, I don’t know how many days we did, things become a little blurry, you forget what day it is after a couple of weeks on set.
And I’m sure travelling the world, staying in anonymous hotel rooms talking to strangers on the phone doesn’t help.
It’s a gypsy lifestyle man, be careful what you wish for.
The Predator films are genre classics, did you go back and revisit them, or treat this as something totally singular?
You know, it’s the predator in the room that you have to acknowledge. I didn’t want to try and go in anyone elses shoes, I wanted to have my own version of it, my own take, you know to be fresh and original. With all respect, we wouldn’t be here without the classic ’87 version of it. I keep on mentioning, this is just like a play, people reinvent plays all the time. I think you can definitely do it with film as well. This franchise is so iconic.
At the centre of the film, there’s a touching father/son relationship…
With a ten year old prodigy [Jacob Tremblay]. He’s a lot better than a lot of adult actors I’ve worked with. You know he’s an incredible talent and he’s just got really good parents, a wonderful mother and father and it’s a lot to ask out of kid not to be a kid and to be an actor. I think they’ve got a healthy balance and it’s a wonderful growing experience to do something like that at such a young age. I was just tickled to be part of that. And I found out my wife was pregnant during the shooting…
Thank you, so I had the chance to practice.
What about the physicality of your role?
That stuff is taxing man. It takes a long time. I met an ex-Navy Seal who became a good friend of mine on the set of Logan and so I had him put me through a mini-boot camp to show me what it would be like to be part of a special forces or as a Navy Seal. What their recruitment process is, their training process etc. I kind of wanted to not just play the part, but almost live the part as much as I possibly could over three or four moths prior to filming. But yeah, it was all a lot of fun, you go to work, you work very, very hard then you’re off for a couple of weeks, maybe a month then boom you’re back into another project that’s all consuming.
You’ve had a pretty whirlwind few years. Since 2013, you’ve worked with Steven Soderbergh, David Fincher, Terrence Malick, James Mangold and now Shane Black. Are there any filmmakers you’re hoping to work with in the future?
You mentioned a couple that I’d love to work with again. I’d love to work with Tarantino, that was actually a close one. I was involved with another project and couldn’t even throw my name in the hat because I was working with a talented young director Jim Mickle which we’ve just wrapped. I think Jim Mickle is going to be a huge talent. I’d love to work with Kevin Costner, Mel Gibson, something like that.
Are you hoping to return to Quinn and the Predator?
I’d love to, I had a real good time with it, and if the opportunity arises, if the film makes the money, it’d be great.
Many thanks to Boyd Holbrook for taking the time for this interview.