Q: Good evening from Austin Texas. We are with writer, director, producer Robert Rodriguez today at Troublemaker Studios and he's going to answer questions about his new project: "Predators" that you have sent us online. We're going to start with a question from Taiwan via Facebook: What made you want to be involved with this project?
A: Back in 1995, I was asked to write a script for another "Predator" movie by Fox. I had some time before I shot another "Desperado" movie and there was an open writing assignment. It was just for writing not directing. I was a big fan of "Predator" and I came up with – since I didn't have to direct it I could make it as crazy as I wanted it to be – I set it on another planet and had a bunch of Predators running around. I called it "Predators". There was no regard to budget, I just did whatever I wanted. I turned it in, went away, did my own movies, and kind of forgot about it. They went on to make "Alien vs. Predator" movies and it wasn't until last year that I even got this project back again. Fox brought it back to me and asked if I was interested in either directing it or producing it here at my studio. They wanted to revitalize the series and use my script as the basis. Being a fan of Predator and always liking some of the things that were in my script, I went ahead and took it on as a producer. I couldn't direct it at the time because I was directing something else and they needed it for the summer. So I took it on as a producer.
Q: The next question is from Japan: There seem to be specific rules for Predators hunting, like they only fight one-to-one, or they don't kill pregnant women. Do you think there is part of the chivalry of the samurai in the Predator?
A: Absolutely. There is certainly a code that goes with the Predator clan that you know and love. In this movie, however, there's more than one tribe. We present a second tribe who is at odds with the one that you know. They aren't quite as nice. We call them bezerkers. They do whatever they want. They are a little more evil. They might shoot you even if you don't have a gun.
Q: Another question from Japan: Please share with us the details of the casting of Louis Ozawa Changchien who plays the Yakuza, Hanzo. Why did you cast him? A: Even though in the script it called for a Yakuza, mid-50's, we left the casting wide open to find the most interesting presence, faces, actors. We saw Louis and I thought he was just terrific. He had a great presence. A very modern presence. He kept it from being too clichéd. We got to go further with his character and his background by coming up with a nice backstory for him. Your dream is to find actors who bring the character to life and help guide them for the final rewrite. You might come up with a concept but until you have someone living and breathing it, it doesn't fully form. His character is really cool. He gets to do some things that I think will get fans very excited about seeing some showdowns he might be doing.
Q: Next question is from Malaysia, from Cinema online: Are you going for a PG-13 rating and how do you make this decision?
A: It's something we talk about early on. We wanted to make sure it was an R-rated movie. I don't know what it will be rated in other countries but in the United States it will be an R. In fact, the studio encouraged us to make it was bloody as we wanted for unrated DVDs and things that go out later. Not to hold back, just to make the best movie possible. It would have been harder if we had to make it PG-13.
Q: Next question is from New Zealand, from flicks.co.nz: What was behind the unlikely casting of Adrien Brody. Is he some kind of anti-Arnold?
A: The character was a mercenary who reluctantly has to lead a group of killers on this planet. He wasn't supposed to be this ultra-commando. Not that Arnold's character wasn't intelligent, but this character is intelligent and cold-blooded. Not part of a group. Someone who only looks out for himself. To pull it off, we really needed someone who was a perfect actor. Adrien was interested in doing it and when you get an Oscar-winning actor willing to be part of a "Predator" movie, you go that route. We wanted the best actors possible that always elevates the material. You can tell the difference. When you watch the actors it feels like a real story with real characters, not cartoonish. It's a lot scarier because you believe everything that is going on because of the actors.
Q: Next question is from New Zealand as well, from reeling.com: What persuaded you to produce rather than direct the film and what made you decide on your final choice of director? Who is Nimrod Antal? We need the scoop.
A: Nimrod is a director I have always admired. I saw his first movie, "Control". I could tell he was a great director from the opening shot of that. He is very resourceful. I met him and got along really terrific with him. I needed to find a director because I was busy doing another project so I couldn't direct this movie in time for the summer release we will have. I still wanted to be involved. If I wasn't going to be involved then it would have gone to someone else. Rather than let it slip away again, like it did 15 years ago, I went and found a director so we could make it here. Nimrod was the right choice. I saw "Armored" and how he was able to work with a group of actors really closely. I knew my crew would work really great with him. We got along great. He's very creative, very focused, and had a really great approach to the story and wanted to make it about the hunt.
Director Nimrod Antal (centre) with actors Actor Walton Goggins and Oleg Taktaro.
Q: Follow up question: You are always very hands-on when it comes to directing your movies whether it is shooting them, editing, or writing the score. This time you are only the producer so does that mean you don't have complete creative input? And if so, do you find that an interesting change for you?
A: It is very different for me. This was a more collaborative effort because I didn't invent the Predators. Some times in my own movies when I come up with the characters, come up with the story, I end up doing a lot of the jobs myself to keep the costs down. Also because I'm already writing the score when I'm writing the script or planning the set design. You do everything non-linear. This was different because it wasn't my original concept so you can come at it as a fan, as a supporter of the movie, and assemble the best team to see it come to life in my backyard. It was very exciting. I'd love to do more producing and mentor young filmmakers to come in here and work in the studio. And have a lot of creative fun.
|Q: Next question is from Malaysia: What kind of new Predators can we expect? There seems to be more than one type.
A: There's more than one type. More than one tribe. And more than one type of creatures. The humans aren't the only ones being preyed upon on this planet. The Predators evolve and make themselves better hunters because of the creatures they do hunt and learn from. The Predators we do see are from a different tribe. They are just more sadistic and evil. They'll do anything to win.
Q: Next question is from Taiwan: How did you cast the movie? For instance, Adrien Brody usually gives the impression of being the soft, gentle character. What inspired you to alter this image in your film?
A: I love casting where you get a really terrific actor and have them do something they don't normally do. That's practically every movie I've ever done. You get actors to come in and experiment. I hired George Clooney back when he had his first break from television on "ER" when he was just the soft doctor. They thought that must be just all he can do forgetting when you have a terrific actor, you can do anything. So I immediately hired him and made him a killer in "From Dusk Til Dawn". I do enjoy that and Adrien wanted to do it very much like George did or Antonio Banderas when he wanted to be in an action movie of mine. Terrific actors can do anything. I knew Adrien would commit to it. He got himself physically in shape but mentally he already had the focus of wanting to surprise people. He has the acting chops to make people believe anything he does. That's what it exciting about it. It is a fresher approach. We looked at a list of names of people who had done roles like that before and it kind of puts you to sleep. When you bring someone in who hasn't done it, it seems like more of a risk but it wasn't. Adrien was a terrific choice.
Robert Rodriguez on the set of "Predators".
Q: Is there any other actor who might surprise the audience as far as a change of character that they are used to?
A: Everyone gets to do something different. Alice Braga is amazing. Lawrence Fishbourne gets to play a really great, great character. He was having a blast. I like the sort of playground that we have where people can come and disappear in a role and then go back home. We shoot very fast and offer roles to actors they usually don't get to play. And it usually works out great and they are appreciated so much.
Q: Next question is from New Zealand: How will this Predator movie fit into the original canon? What are the creative differences between a Predator movie in 2010 and a movie released over 20 years ago?
A: The Predator character is very classic. The approach we took was not to make it feel like number 5 in a series but the first one where it is played more serious, played more scary, where the audience doesn't know about these creatures already. That's why we needed really good actors so you believe what they are believing. Then it becomes surprise, it becomes fresh, it becomes something new all over again. That was the idea – to make it feel new, to make it feel like the first time you experienced it.
Q: Next question is from Korea and the most popular question that has come up today: Will Arnold Schwarzenegger make a cameo appearance in this movie?
A: If it will make you go to the theatre, I'll say maybe. We knew we couldn't rely on Arnold being in the movie because he's the governor and is busy with more important things. We really wanted to make our own movie first. There might be a hint of him in the movie in some way – he might be talked about – but I thought the best idea would be to make a really terrific movie. If people love it maybe there can be a sequel and he can be in it. I talked to him about the original script way back when 15 years ago so I know he loves the series.
(L-R) Adrian Brody and Oleg Taktaro on the set of "Predators".
Q: Next question is from Singapore: Where in the timeline of "Predator" movies does this one fall under?
A: Because I originally conceived it back in the day right after "Predator 2", I pretended that didn't exist and went right to "Predator 1" and made this a follow up. So there would be "Predator" and this is "Predators". Like "Alien and Aliens". So you don't have to see any of the other ones. This has a nice through-line to the first movie and has a small connection to it. Of course you can see it by itself but, of course, I encourage to see the first one.
Q: Next question is from Singapore as well: So far we don't see much of the Predator homeworld. What do they get by being part of the hunt and what do they get for winning?
A: Someone must have been reading the script... You have to wait and see.
Q: Next question is: Tell us more about Danny Trejo in the movie. We love Danny Trejo. He is in all your movies. What's the story?
A: I didn't decide to have him in the movie. It was the screenwriters being big fans of Danny. They knew I was making "Machete". We were trying to think of characters that would really pop besides Adrien, Alice, Lawrence. We wanted to have a Jesse Ventura-type. They wrote in the script – this wasn't in my original draft – a "Danny Trejo type" who was a cartel enforcer. His name was Cuchillo, which means knife. Danny always plays cutlery in my movies. That was their hint that I should put Danny in the movie. I made him think he wasn't going to be in the movie for a while. I didn't want to just hand it out but after a while we realized there's no other "Danny Trejo type" so we just got Danny. And he's fun. He's really fun in the movie.
Q: Next question is: Was the movie shot in digital and why or why not?
A: It was shot in digital, Panavision digital cameras. It's great to be able to see exactly what you're doing. What you see is what you get. You're right there on the set. You can dial in the look that you want. Everyone can see it, especially if you are working with creatures. I just like to shoot that way. The DP was fantastic. He had shot some digital before – commercials only – but the movie looks amazing.
Mahershalalhashbaz Ali on the set of "Predators".
Q: Next question is about weapons: What new Predator weapons can we look forward to and will you be bringing back any old ones?
A: What new Predator weapons exist? There is a bunch because they evolve from hunting different prey and they have evolved a lot since the last time you saw them. They are implementing new hunting techniques and strategies and weaponry. They are very exciting to see how brutal these things are. We are just starting to do the effects now, finishing the effects, which is very exciting to see. And the things that we love from the first movie we keep or enhance and add new things. They still have shoulder mounts, blades in the arm, and that's just the start. We build from there.
Q: Next question, have you considered shooting "Predators" in 3D? We know you love 3D.
A: It wasn't really a 3D-type movie. Plus we had such a short schedule it didn't seem like the right fit for it. Maybe if there's another one... "Predators 3D"?
Q: Next question is: Can you tell us why in this age of CGI, you chose not to use that tool to create the new monsters?
A: We used CG to enhance certain things but for the Predators themselves it is important to do it old school because it looks better. They are right there on the set for us to light, for the actors to respond to. And that's what makes it enduring. They are humanoid. You can relate to them. There's just no need to change that.
Q: Next question is: Will we see new Predators technology like new spaceships?
A: Yes, there are some new spaceships. I can't give away too much but there are new things. This story just makes it feel new and fresh. It feels good. It feels like you are rediscovering it. Everything feels fresh.
Adrien Brody plays a character called Royce in "Predators"
Q: Can you tell us about the score for the movie and are you involved in it?
A: I hired a guy I work with quite a bit, John Debney. He's fantastic. He's worked with me on a whole bunch of stuff including "Sin City". He just finished "Iron Man 2" so he had an opening so we grabbed him. He wanted me to come up with some stuff for the score. We like to work together. We'll see if I have time. I'm finishing the "Machete" score right now. But I'll try to add something to the mix. It's a great score to work on. And we get to utilize some of Alan Silvestri's original themes. You'll get to hear some of the music from the first movie in this as well. It is very iconic. I'm glad we got to use it. It doesn't feel like a real "Predator" movie unless you have some of that in there.
Q: Next question is: There has been a lot of confusion with the Predator's home planet. Is this new planet the Predators' homeworld?
A: No. We couldn't afford to do that. Actually it was never in my original concept to have the home planet in there. I wanted to save that. This planet is just a hunting preserve. As cool and exciting as it is, it's not even their home planet. We got to do anything we wanted with this planet because it's not tied into anything you've seen before.
Q: Thanks so much for taking our questions today.
"Predators" will play in cinemas beginning 8 July 2010!
Cinema Online, 23 April 2010