The team responsible for bringing the Predator to life in Hulu’s acclaimed prequel “Prey” was uniquely positioned for the project. StudioADI’s award-winning industry veterans Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff Jr. have worked on many celebrated films, including the original “Predator,” and they are the co-creators of the alien in director Dan Trachtenberg’s film. “Prey” has also achieved record-breaking debut viewership for the streamer, and inside that Predator suit is monster actor Dane DiLiegro.
“Prey’s” iteration of the iconic creature, which is a combination of physical costuming and CGI, differs from previous incarnations. “Some of our earliest conversations with Dan were about making this Predator super slim with some kind of weird camouflage and different from the reptilian thing we’ve seen before,” Woodruff Jr. explained, adding that the different proportions hinted at the Predator’s stage of development.
“This one’s head wasn’t huge, the dreadlocks became thinner, and we were trying to mimic the feel of the warriors in their long hair,” he continued. “When we started working on the Predator’s instruments, we had some designs come through that looked a little more homemade. The idea was that the Predator also had primitive weapons that evolved.” He added that the prequel “wasn’t about weapons against weapons,” but rather “this girl and this creature and how they all merge together.”
Gillis said they started with approximately 20 different Predator concepts before Trachtenberg whittled it down to five. They honed it from there by what he called “working out the nuances.”
That set clear anchor points to create the character in around six weeks. Due to the pandemic, much of that process took place over Zoom, with occasional in-person fittings. “We threw a leotard on my son because he’s super skinny,” Woodruff Jr. explained. “It had all this detailed Predator skin stuff printed on it, and right next to him was Dane wearing his mock-up pieces.” That was when the duo and Trachtenberg realized the Predator was as much about Dane’s mentality and movement as it was design.
“You don’t just put the suit on and go to work,” DiLiegro clarified. “It doesn’t work like that with a character as iconic as this.”
Gillis revealed they created six Predator suits and four heads, all of which they used wisely. “You trash them as you go through production, not only due to human sweat but because some scenes are so physical. We would start with a suit, wear it down, and then move it to stunt suit status. You barely make it across the finish line with one presentable suit.”
Woodruff Jr. added, “I think we saved one or two for when we need to see that detail up close. We’d be setting Dane up for a night shoot and had a pair of Predator feet. We were looking at them like, ‘Wow, these won’t work in daylight, but we can throw some color on him and patch things up, and they’ll work fine for nighttime.’”