The Predator is out, which means it's time to break down the new heroes stepping into the Predator legacy with help from writer/director Shane Black. Boyd Holbrook's character may have become... familiar with the titular villain, and survived, unlike most who win the honor. But he's not out the woods yet (pun intended).
We had the opportunity to visit the set of The Predator while the cast was assembled to begin this spiritual sequel to the first two Predator films. So for those curious to know how the new cast of characters carry forward the original heroes' legacy - or break from it - who better to explain their heroes than the cast themselves? It's time to meet the covert minds of Project Stargazer and the dangerous minds of... The Looneys.
Boyd Holbrook as 'Quinn McKenna'
Before we get to the colorful, mentally broken or ill former soldiers of the aforementioned "Looneys," let's start with Quinn McKenna (since it's through his eyes that the audience will be introduced to the supporting cast). As can be gleaned from the first trailer, Quinn find himself as the (likely) sole survivor of a Predator attack, landing himself in an interrogation by unknown intelligence groups.
"You find him doing mercenary work, basically collecting a paycheck. If you've got something you need done down in Mexico, I'm your guy. So he's estranged from his wife, he's detached from his son... I think the heart of the story is about reconnecting to being a father. Getting all these Looney Tune guys who have no direction, to give them a sense of purpose. I think ultimately that's what Quinn finds."
Whatever happens next, it's determined that he's in need of some psychiatric treatment - landing him a spot on a bus already occupied by the film's other stars.
Jacob Tremblay as 'Rory McKenna'
Quinn's son, who has an unspecified form of Asperger's or Autism, which has earned him the ire of some school bullies. On the other hand, it allows him to understand the Predator language and technology like no other movie characters before. When his father sends him some mementos from his run-in with the Predator, Rory is thrown into the movie's plot.
Yvonne Strahovski as 'Emily,' Rory's Mother
Quinn's estranged wife plays a small role in the film, but is obviously an attentive mother to Rory. And while her relationship with Quinn is clearly strained, she knows that he serves his country with distinction.
Keegan-Michael Key as 'Coyle'
We should clarify that it's a bus filled with the rest of the movie's cast on a less-than-voluntary sense. As is revealed in the film, the group of military veterans are part of a group therapy course who have finally acted out a bit too violently. It's this trip to the "big hospital" that Quinn is tossed into, headed for the same observation and treatment. Clearly things go wrong soon after, but even before the alien attacks begin, Keegan-Michael Key explains the kinds of trauma these characters will actually be dealing with:
"I'm one of The Looneys. I'm actually the big mouth of the Looneys. Everybody deals with their trauma in their own special way. Coyle's is that he's chock-full of one-liners, which is a Shane Black specialty, right? He's kind of the maidenhead on the front of the crazy ship.
"Most of the guys in the group are Army, but he and Thomas Jane's character, Baxley, are Marines. So they're buddy-buddy, but they're also inexorably linked to eachother due to a horrible tragedy that took place in the First Gulf War that Coyle's responsible for, and Baxley and his crew were the recipients of."
Key goes on to explain that the dynamic between Coyle and Baxley is a perfect example of the macho, testosterone-fueled events of the first Predator that Shane Black is turning on its head. The two may spend their time firing insults and nagging back and forth, but according to Key, it's all "I love you, I love you, I love you" beneath the surface.
Thomas Jane as 'Baxley'
Thomas Jane echoes Key's description of their relationship, which was actually developed between the actor and director before he came on board (having signed up to work with Black once his schedule allowed for it). While the two former Marines have reasons to despise one another, Jane explains that being locked in step through all of the post-catastrophe hearings, inquiries, breakdowns, and post-traumatic counseling, they're now the only people who can truly understand what they've gone through.
"Me and Coyle, who's played by Keegan, are both Marines. We're the only two guys that were in the same unit together. You guys know this story?... There's a friendly fire incident where Coyle opens fire on his own dudes. A group of guys probably in a tank, or a truck... it's all vague now because of the shell shock. He opened fire and killed all the guys, and there's only one survivor. And that one survivor was me.
"My character is OCD to begin with. After that incident it really... flowered into full-blown Tourette's. So my character's got full-blown, hardcore coprolalia... I know that Shane and Keegan came up with a lot of that backstory themselves like, the day before I showed up. They laid that on me and I said 'F** that's great! I got nothing to add to that.'"
Trevante Rhodes as 'Nebraska'
Coyle may be the mouthpiece of the Looneys, but their de facto leader (at least until Quinn enters the picture) is Nebraska, played by Trevante Rhodes. It seems that Nebraska's will has been more damaged than his mind, as a born leader who wound up withdrawing from life after losing his unit. The arrival of Quinn changes that status quo, and while Rhodes confirms that his dialogue with Quinn is "exactly what you'd expect" from Shane Black's writing, it seems he falls in behind Quinn as much as his "broken" family:
"He is, I like to say, 'the man behind the man' in a sense, in regards to Boyd Holbrook's character McKenna... Nebraska had his own Special Forces group, he had his own unit-- I just shot a film [12 Strong], and Chris [Hemsworth] was the head of our Special Forces clan and I kind of just assumed that, and brought that into this. I developed this idea that he made a wrong decision and got everybody killed except for himself. That was something he had to live with, and struggle with, and is still struggling with... Then he stumbles upon these people who assume that same kind of family, and he feels the need to be a part of it.
"In my mind Nebraska's this person who lost his family, in a sense. He doesn't have a wife or a kid, so he sees the love this person has for his kid and the urgency that he has, and this thing that killed his men. He sees so much of himself, or what he wants to be in this person. He tries to help him as best he can... In my mind I see Nebraska as being kind of like, a sensei. That could just be my ego wanting to be [laughs]."
Augusto Aguilera as 'Nettles'
While likely to be the newest face to the most audience members, Augusto Aguilera's character poses a unique glimpse into veteran mental health. And we expect his time behind the controls of Apache helicopters in high-intensity combat to come in handy, too:
"There's a Special Forces group called the Night Stalkers, and I was a part of that. I had this accident in my helicopter and I have a bit of TBI, which is a traumatic brain injury. So I'm just a beat behind, which is... easy for me to play.
"His role in the group? I don't think that I really have one. If we're in group therapy, all of us, I think I'm just trying to be part of the group... I feel like the group was one character that's been kind of broken apart into a bunch of different characters. Which is really kind of beautiful, because we all get to play on these specifics. Mine, I felt like, was the heart of the group... Vulnerable the way that seeing horrible things leaves you. This nerve, really loose nerve... but hopeful."
Alfie Allen as 'Lynch'
The Game of Thrones star is sure to be less controversial a character as 'Nettles' than his best known role. That being said, the "loner" of the group is one we expect to either a) take on the Predator all by himself, perhaps giving it a taste of its own medicine, or b) demonstrating how the Predator's lethality, considering Allen has shown up less in set photos than his cast members. But that's pure speculation at this point:
"He's a weapons guy... My backstory on it is that he was part of the Army. He was chucked out of the Army, joined the Foreign Legion, and then... I based it on a friend of mine. He ends up in group therapy with these other vets who have been affected by the trials and tribulations of war. He's got a skill, which is sleight of hand. He uses card tricks quite often just to fill his alone time. But also more of a nervous tick to get the attention away from what's going on in the environment that he's currently in.
"He's a bit of a... he plays up to that label of being in that group of people who were affected. So he has this thing of just trying to psych people out with, like, 'the eyes.' And then hopefully throughout the movie you see more a human arc... My friend who I based it on, I haven't even told about that yet [laughs]. I want to see if he notices."
Sterling K. Brown as 'Traeger'
The military-minded man overseeing Project Stargazer, turning what could be a project designed to better understand alien life into defense against it. He turns out to be right in that regard, since the Predators have anything but peaceful intentions for Earth and humans. But his ruthless approach to the task of covering up knowledge of Stargazer makes him a fitting villain.
Jake Busey as 'Keyes'
The son of Gary Busey's FBI character from Predator 2, Sean is a leading mind in the Project Stargazer organization investigating the Predators and their designs on Earth. While working for Traeger, Sean seems to have a less... sinister perspective on the alien investigations.
Olivia Munn as 'Casey Brackett'
A brilliant scientist who 'practically wrote the book on evolutionary biology' and is brought into Project Stargazer when a live Predator is captured (and soon find herself on the run with the Looneys). She has the real breakthroughs when it comes to the human DNA in found in the Predator's genetics.
- The Predator (2018) release date: Sep 14, 2018