How Prey Avoided Putting Its Predator Through Hours In A Makeup Chair

Ever since its first disastrous design for the 1987 "Predator" movie, each iteration of the Yautja, known most commonly as "the Predator," has been reworked and reimagined for the screen while also trying to find new ways to make it easier for the performers playing the creature. This has been no easy feat in part due to the overall species' design of the Yautja. 

The design itself is thoroughly intimidating. Yautja are generally tall and muscular, with their bodies looming over their prospective victims. They sport hair-like appendages, which, while not exactly intimidating, are striking. To wrap up the terror, the species features mandibles that heighten fear once revealed when their masks are removed. All of these elements work against comfortability for the actor embodying the Predator creature from start to finish.

Making the makeup and costume process easier for creature performers goes a long way. I've only had the experience of working as a scare actor at haunts, but the sometimes lengthy makeup process and the experimentation with the costuming meant working through being uncomfortable. Until you got on set, you sometimes wouldn't know how you'd be able to move in the environment, especially if you're wearing the costume for hours on end.

Thankfully, for actor Dane DiLiegro in the latest "Predator" installment titled "Prey," great efforts were taken to make his costume as comfortable as possible.

It's time for some change

While the Yautja have universal characteristics, there's plenty of room for individuality to help differentiate them from the crowd. In the case of our Predator in "Prey," bringing back special effects legends Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff Jr. to handle the latest iteration's design proved helpful. Intimately familiar with the design of the Yautja, the two had specific ideas for how they wanted to approach making the creature we see in "Prey" different from the rest. 

"Some of our earliest conversations with Dan were about making this Predator super slim with some kind of weird camouflage and different from the reptilian thing we've seen before," Woodruff Jr. explained to Variety, with the slim build allowing for more flexibility in prep during the bulk of the pandemic. In-person fittings happened occasionally, with Woodruff Jr. utilizing his son for test fittings and, eventually, actor Dane DiLiegro doing movement tests. These ended up reminding the special effects artist that it all wasn't just about how the creature looked — it also had plenty to do with DiLiegro being able to move, as well as his approach to the role.

Any creature performer can tell you that you can't just put on a costume and go. You have to play around with it. Get comfortable in how it feels and how it helps to shape you mentally and physically since you're going to be living in that costume for awhile. Streamlining that process for DiLiegro would go a long way.

Time for the supersuit

After much trial and error, the team finalized a design that would work for them and, ultimately, ended up being as convenient as it could be for Dane DiLiegro when he had to get ready to channel the Predator. As he shared with Bloody Disgusting, the process of just getting the suit on was a lot easier than many might have thought:

"One body suit, with sleeves up to my neck and down to my ankles. In the beginning, the suit was a little bit tighter. We had six suits and four heads; in the beginning, it was tight foam latex. The more you wear it, the more you use it, the more you sweat in it, it starts to loosen up; get looser, nicer, easier to get in. So, you slide into the suit, get zipped up, hike it on your shoulders, put it on, and then put on the gloves, put on the feet, and then you're ready to go to set. When you go to set, they set up the shot, and it's time to shoot."

The shoot itself wasn't exactly easy, breezy or beautiful, with the role itself requiring a great deal of physicality from DiLiegro whilst in the suit. But with the streamlined design of his Predator character cutting down the time in the makeup chair, the process of getting into character became all the easier for the basketball player-turned-monster.

"Prey" is available to watch now on Hulu.