Prey Actor Dakota Beavers Talks About Facing Off Against The Predator [Spoiler Interview]

In "Prey," director Dan Trachtenberg's new "Predator" prequel set in the 1700s, an imposing alien hunter comes face to face with multiple Comanche warriors. Most notably, there's Naru, played by Amber Midthunder; she's the film's protagonist, a scrappy underdog whose abilities and determination are constantly underestimated and seriously put to the test as she squares off against this colossal killer.

But the Predator also didn't anticipate encountering Naru's brother, Taabe, played by actor Dakota Beavers in his first credited acting role. Taabe is a pillar of his community, a leader, and a skilled fighter, and when it comes time for Taabe's inevitable confrontation with the creature, he makes the most of it in a way that even Arnold Schwarzenegger's Dutch would envy.

I had the chance to speak with Beavers about what it was like going head-to-head against one of the most iconic sci-fi characters of all time, how much of the fight scenes he performed himself, the contrast of acting in more dramatic scenes throughout the movie, and more. Read on for our spoiler-filled conversation.

'Man, this is a wicked fight'

You have a pretty amazing final battle with the Predator in this movie, and I'm curious what your reaction was when you read the script for the first time and you realized that you were going to be facing off with one of the most iconic sci-fi creatures ever.

Well, honestly the first feeling for me was excitement. Just because it's so one-on-one, it's so head-to-head, more so than I think we've seen in most of the movies. So that was just epic for me.

Yeah, definitely. I mean, there is a lot of close-range action there with you spinning and dodging and reusing weapons. I remember watching that scene for the first time and thinking to myself, "Man, this character might have the highest success ratio of hits against a Predator of anybody in the entire franchise." Did you talk to Dan or any of the other filmmakers at all about that?

For me, I certainly noticed that, and I was like, "Man, this is a wicked fight." And I think it's one of the most realistic, in a sense, because he doesn't get hit. That was a big thing for the stunt coordinator and for myself. I wanted it to be realistic in a sense. He's quick, he's agile, he's moving, and he doesn't get — because [the Predator is a] however many pounds, seven-foot-plus beast who could break your back if he hit you the right way. So for me, it being awesome yet realistic was so cool.

Tell me what went into filming that whole scene. Were you actually riding around on horseback or was that face replacement technology? How did that work?

So I told [stunt coordinator] Steve McMichael I wanted to do all the riding and the stunts, and he let me. So all the riding, all the fighting on there is me, and Dane [DiLiegro], he's in the suit, so we're actually both together, duking it out there, right there in the moment.

'I want people to cry when Taabe dies'

There's this big moment where you jump off the back of a horse and throw a spear into the Predator. What was that like to shoot? I'm guessing you were on wires, but how did that work?

Initially they hired a stunt double, who's a fantastic guy named Darcy Singer, and they wanted him for that scene because they didn't want me to break my leg. And so they were filming that long shot with him and I was sitting there and I was watching it, and I was like, "I want to do that so bad." And so I went to Steve and I was like, "I can do that. Will you just..." And so anyway, they eventually wired me up and they got me on the horse. The first few times they didn't have a knot in the line, so I actually hit a tree a couple times and came down pretty hard. But luckily we got the shots that we needed, and it was a lot of fun.

So at the end of that sequence, you're impaled through the chest and lifted up into the air and it looks like you're done for, but then you sort of get one more stab out of it to buy Naru some time to get her out of there, and it reminded me a little bit of Sean Bean in "Lord of the Rings" or something — that type of death that takes a little bit longer than you think because this character is so sort of larger than life. So what were the conversations that you had going into filming your actual death moment?

Well, I wanted Taabe — I told Dan, "I want people to cry when Taabe dies. I want him to mean something to the people. And also I want him to be as tough and as strong and as larger than life as he can be until the end." So just having that opportunity to get that last strike to get his sister that window to escape, and that last scream was just everything that I had put into the production, letting that out. It was exciting for me.

'To me it was a little daunting, but also it was exciting because I get to react.'

I'm also wondering about the non-action elements of filming this movie. In a way, did the dramatic moments scare you more than the action, because the action is so choreographed ahead of time?

Yeah, I certainly put more mentally into the scenes, like with Amber, when you're acting off of somebody. And to me it was a little daunting, but also it was exciting because I get to react. Because Amber, she'll do something a certain way, and I might change something in the moment that I've never thought of doing before. So it was interesting going into, but also, to me, that was the most fun, was acting one-on-one with another person. And in a heated moment, even, where there's multiple emotions, he's not necessarily angry at her, but he wants her to not die. So there's a lot, emotionally, there.

When you think back to your experience of making "Prey" up there in Canada, what is the first memory that comes to mind? It doesn't even have to be anything that actually made it into the final cut of the movie, it could just be an interaction that you had with somebody between takes or anything like that. What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think back on that experience?

Well, it's funny, I'd only ever been out of the country one time before, and that was via a vehicle. So whenever we were flying into Calgary, I was coming from the east and Amber was coming from the west, but we actually met in Minneapolis and we came in on the same flight. So that was my first international flight, so getting through the airport, I didn't know what the heck I was doing, so Amber was very helpful in letting me know, "How does this machine work? What do I do?" So that was pretty cool. And this was during Covid, so nobody was coming through the border, so it was like a ghost town. So it was just a strange experience, but also kind of cool to say you flew during the pandemic.

"Prey" is currently streaming on Hulu.