Finding someone suited to wear the battle armor of the most feared hunter in the universe is not that easy. Just ask the producers behind The Predator. The search went far and wide, pulling in actors from diverse backgrounds to a gathering at Tempest Freerunning Academy in California. Once there on location, one candidate stood out amongst others, not just because of his size, but also because he is a talented parkour athlete named Brian A. Prince.
“The idea was for this Predator to be more agile,” says Prince, who stands at 6’10” and weighs in at 225 pounds. “I found inspiration in these powerful animals that also have real mobility, like a gorilla or a bear. I mean, when you see one of those coming at you, suddenly fear is not an option, it is a biological response.”
Coming off stunt performances in Black Panther and Captain America: Civil War, The Predator is the biggest role that Prince has taken on and came to him in a clandestine way. Once he was enlisted into the Predator ranks, he reported to effects company Amalgamated Dynamics, Inc., who crafted the creature’s unique look.
Once fully constructed, the bodysuit clocked in at 70 pounds, meaning that Prince had to perform the action while standing somewhere around 300 pounds. Luckily his parkour conditioning allowed him to soldier through and deliver an appropriately powerful performance. Men’s Journal chatted with the actor about getting the role, shooting the stunts, and what it is like to wear the iconic Predator mask.
So how did you find out about the role?
I was in Seattle doing work at this parkour gym. I had moved there to push my training and explore other parts of the country. Back in Atlanta, I had done some stunt work on projects like Captain America: Civil War and The Walking Dead, so some people there knew me. I got a random call from a stunt coordinator; apparently he had been asking around to find out whom the tallest person doing parkour was. My name had come up.
What was the casting process like?
They flew me out to Los Angeles a week later, and I met them at Tempest Freerunning Academy, which was a place that I had wanted to go to for a while. It was me and four other guys who had been chasing this part. I just started training in the room and from what I hear they were pretty impressed by what I was doing. I will be honest, I didn’t really expect to get the part, and so I just started having fun in the space. Lance Gilbert, who was the stunt coordinator, asked us all to move around, bring what we would to the role. They tested us with some wirework. I put together a little fun creature and freerunning sequence. I brought in some hunting and primal elements into my parkour movements. That was it; we went back to the hotel. The next day they called to tell me I was going to be the Predator.
How did you get set up in the suit?
I went to the effects company ADI the day after I got the call to figure out the sizing on the skin. Over the next few months I was going in there from time to time for various fittings. During those early visits I would only get to see little bits and pieces of the suit in its full glory, a foot or one of the arms. I put on the full suit when we started to do camera tests. I have to say that was pretty crazy. I will say it is the coolest thing that I have ever done but with the weight it was also the hardest thing that I have ever done.
What kind of preparation did you do before filming?
I used that time to really push my parkour training and work on other stunt elements. I was doing stage combat and reactions. I started to incorporate different creature and animal movements that would fit the character, unique action that I wouldn’t usually get into.
Did you do any specific training to get ready?
Parkour is how I stay in shape. I had people who would say that I was being risky, since I was working on the movie, but I know how to do it without pushing myself. Of course there is an element of risk, but like when you are driving a car, there is a lot of control being the operator.
How long did you have on location?
I flew up to Vancouver and for about four weeks straight it was just nonstop stunt training with a great group of people. It was a massive team that was just amazing. Every day was stunt fighting, taking hits, and wirework. The fight that I have with the upgrade was just epic, I was getting knocked around and that took a lot of rehearsal. I was in a harness getting flung around. I was also lucky to have Kyle Strauts there, too, so that we could work on movements together. He also did some motion capture work, and got up on stilts to play The Upgrade Predator.
The Predator face-off was pretty intense, what was it like filming that?
I was getting thrown across a yard, thankfully the suit and armor was good to keep the hurt down. The last fight that we do was particularly rough.
Did you get to do any stunts with the cast?
It kind of mirrored the movie in the fact that the cast would get together and be doing their fun ensemble scenes while I was out with the stunt team working on the fights. There were a few scenes that the cast wanted to be involved, like when I throw Boyd Holbrook up against a wall. It was supposed to be a stunt double originally but he wanted to do it himself.
How did that play out?
I have to say I was a little worried, because I will be honest, when the legit iconic battle mask is on I can’t see the best. I was rehearsing the steps leading up to when I grab him and people just kept coming up to me telling me not to punch Boyd in the face. I mean, I understand why they were worried, just because there were a lot of elements at play. Luckily I was able to get it set up just right, get the slam right.
What part did you like most about the filming?
I enjoyed running in the suit the most despite the difficulty. There is this escape scene that was just the best. I was sprinting for a parking lot sized distance in this massive suit. It was the work and that is what I do.
What did it feel like to wear the full Predator suit?
I felt it when I was walking around. You throw on the suit and put the head on, people just look at you differently. I couldn’t help but be in character when it was all on with the armor. When the suit was on I was not myself. It is hard not to get caught up in it, to look at them differently, and maybe troll them a little bit. [Laughs.]
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