Prey tells the story of a young woman, Naru, a fierce and highly skilled warrior who has been raised in the shadow of some of the most legendary hunters to roam the Great Plains.
So when danger threatens her camp, she sets out to protect her people. The prey she stalks, and ultimately confronts, turns out to be a highly evolved alien predator with a technically advanced arsenal, resulting in a vicious and terrifying showdown between the two adversaries.
Dakota Beavers plays Taabe in the new Predator movie, and we caught up with the musician a few weeks ago to find out what it was like to make his acting debut as part of this iconic franchise. As well as delving into the challenges he faced exploring the Comanche Nation and following in the footsteps of Arnold Schwarzenneger, he also reflects on facing the Predator on set.
Dakota also reflects on working with Amber Midthunder, his intense training, and the level of secrecy that surrounded the project (meaning he didn't initially know Prey would feature a Predator).
Check out the full interview with Dakota below:
Did you know from the start that Prey was a Predator film and, either way, what was your reaction to learning you'd be part of this iconic sci-fi franchise?
It was a dream come true for sure. I didn’t really know. I got approached by a casting agent and she said, ‘I have a small part in a movie I’d like you to audition for.’ I said ‘Okay.’ I did it a few times, they eventually flew me out to L.A., and I figured it out there. At that point, I was blown away when I realised it wasn’t such a small part. That was a very big surprise for me.
As an actor, how did it feel to be standing on set with the Predator?
The first time I saw him, he was walking through the trees in the suit. I was like, ‘Holy crap, that’s pretty cool.’ When Taabe sees the Predator for the first time, he says in Comanche, ‘That’s some crazy sh*t.’ It was similar for me!
In terms of working with both practical and visual effects on this film, what was that experience like for you?
You know, it was interesting. I got to get a little bit of both worlds on this movie which I was thankful for just for the experience. Obviously, my scenes with the Predator, he’s wearing the full-on suit, so I get to react to that. Also, I got to shoot with bluescreens occasionally during reshoots when we don’t have the same background or even weapons being changed. Little things like that. Luckily, it all came together in a way that was comfortable for me.
There’s a great level of representation in this movie in terms of exploring the Comanche Nation, but what did it mean to you to get to explore that alongside those action scenes?
It meant everything to me that I could be part of this project. The fact it was so keen on making sure it was culturally accurate and having Jhane, a Comanche woman herself, as the producer at the head of this project with Dan was an honour for me. So many times in the past, indigenous people get portrayed incorrectly just because of a lack of information and knowledge. Having her there was golden for me.
In terms of exploring the Comanche Nation, what did you find most interesting or challenging to delve into?
The language for me…I’m kind of a language buff. I find them really interesting. Sitting down and dubbing the entire movie in Comanche and the Comanche lines we had were going to be how it was filmed, so I auditioned in Comanche. Just learning about sentence structure and how certain words and letters were pronounced was fun for me and something I really enjoyed.
At the heart of this film is Taabe's relationship with Naru, but what sort of work did you and Amber do to build on that dynamic and did you find that you also developed that same sibling bond?
It was great. We had a four-week boot camp before the movie with myself, Amber, and the boys, so we got to spend a lot of time together. We all hung out after work too. We’d go out and cause trouble around town and in the woods, so we got to spend a lot of time chatting, playing music, and shooting the breeze. That was certainly very helpful as a comfort level before acting off somebody.
When it came to the action scenes, what was it like to be thrown into those and how much training did you get to prepare? Did you end up walking away from the film with any injuries given how much action you saw?
Yeah! I told our stunt coordinator, Steven McMichael, that I wanted to do as many stunts as he would let me. Well, I kind of told him I wanted to do all of them [Laughs]. He didn’t end up letting me do that, thank goodness, but I certainly had a few injuries I didn’t want to tell anybody about because I didn’t want them to take me off doing what I was doing. When I’m rolling in the dirt, I’m not wearing a shirt, so I was just covered in scratches. There’s a scene where I’m laying horizontally on the ground and I pulled an abdominal muscle really badly. That was actually really painful but I didn’t tell anybody [Laughs]. I wanted to do it all if they’d let me.
How familiar were you with the Predator movies before joining this project and, as it is your first movie role, did you feel intimidated at all by the history it has?
The extent of my familiarity was mostly with the first one. Growing up, you know so many of those iconic lines and everyone seems to love that first one. After I learned I’d got the role, I went and watched the other movies. There’s certainly a level of uncertainty, I guess, when you’re going in the shoes of Arnold and all those jacked guys in the first one. Luckily, it’s so different. They wanted me looking period accurate as this thin and sinewy Native dude who could kick butt. If I looked like Arnold it would probably look pretty dumb with us being in the 1700s [Laughs]. It was different enough that it maybe wouldn’t matter so much to people.
You may not look like Arnie in this film, but you kick a lot of ass and take the fight to the Predators. That must have been pretty satisfying.
Definitely! I was so pleased with how everything turned out. It’s just so fast and precise and realistic. My scenes are as realistic as they could be when you’re fighting this seven-foot-plus beast. If you can keep it from touching you, you’re pretty golden, but the guy is a formidable opponent.
Prey premieres exclusively on Hulu on August 5!