‘Prey’ Star Dakota Beavers Discusses Going Toe-to-Toe With the Predator in His First Role

The ‘Predator’ prequel is on Hulu now

Prey Dakota Beavers
20th Century

Dan Trachtenberg’s “Prey,” out on Hulu now, feels like the freshest installment in the franchise since the original “Predator.”

A big part of that freshness comes from the concept, which is set 300 years before the events of the original film, in the Comanche Nation. An earlier version of the predator creature comes to earth, looking to face off against the planet’s deadliest hunter and finds a young female warrior named Naru, who has a ton of skill and something to prove. While the conceit is essentially the same as the first “Predator,” which saw Arnold Schwarzenegger lead a group of ruthless commandoes against the extraterrestrial hunter, it freshens things up with the new setting, the type of character the predator goes after and its general atmosphere.

Another way that it feels so new and fresh is because of the cast. Amber Midthunder, from “Legion,” plays Naru. She is absolutely wonderful and creates a believable protagonist to go up against one of the scariest aliens in motion picture history. That also extends to Dakota Beavers, who plays Naru’s brother Taabe, who in a different version of the movie would probably have been the protagonist. Beavers has never been in a movie before, which makes his performance even more incredible.  

TheWrap spoke to Beavers about the franchise, what it was like getting cast, and what he thinks about the recent slate of shows and movies that feature indigenous performers and stories.

What was your relationship with the “Predator” franchise before signing on to “Prey?”

Basically, the extent of my experience was mostly the first one. I was just like so many other people – that first one was so epic, but I hadn’t never really dived down into the sequels. After I got the part, I dove into that and explored it. And now I’m a wicked fan.

It has a very explicit connection to “Predator 2.”

It sure does.

How did they approach you? Did they tell you that it was a “Predator” movie when you auditioned?

Yeah. I had never acted before this movie. I’d gotten an email from a casting agent and she said, “Hey, I want you to audition for this small part in this movie.” And she didn’t tell me what it was. She didn’t tell me what the part was. I did a self-tape and then, and a Zoom audition. I did another one and I had a feeling. I saw this line on the sides that said, “Click, click, click, click, click, click.” And I was like, “I wonder if this is a ‘Predator’ movie.” I ended up in L.A. doing an in-person audition and it was at that point, I realized, “Wow, this is actually a pretty big deal.”

How did Dan pitch the movie to you?

When I received the sides, they had auditioned several people before myself. Obviously, I probably wasn’t the first choice, seeing as I’d never been in a movie before, so I just got the sides. And I was like, “Well, I’ll do my best. I’m going to do my thing.” And then for some reason, Dan saw something in me that he liked. And so they brought me over to L.A. and the rest is history, I guess.

It’s your first movie, which is daunting enough. But you’re in this giant franchise. Was there ever any trepidation, like, “Whoa, what did I get myself into here?”

Yeah, 100%. When I first realized I got the movie, I was like, “Holy crap. Well, it must be meant to be.” I just took it as a sign, that I just need to roll with this. I needed to put fear aside and be like Taabe and face this danger head on.

What was shooting like?

It was cold. The first half of the film was pretty cold, then it got hot, but we did a month of night shoots. And when you’re not wearing very many clothes … I’m shirtless and my butt’s hanging out of the back of these pants. It was cold. But I really enjoyed the outdoor aspect of it. I’d rather be outside than in a studio somewhere.

How much of the Predator was actually there on set?

For me, it was always a guy in a Predator suit and it actually looks really good in real life. It’s pretty close to what you’re seeing on screen. They meshed the two. They would do CGI on top of certain parts of the Predator itself in the suit. It was a cool mesh.

Can you talk about developing the character and his relationship with his sister?

For me, it was a cool way to take a new take because you have this guy – he’s strong, he’s masculine, he’s brave, but also he’s got this kindness and this warmth to him and that he wants her to succeed. He wants her to take this home. And to be able to play something similar, but different enough, and also willing to do whatever is necessary was pretty amazing for me.

There’s been an amazing explosion in ingenuous storytelling between this and “Dark Winds” and “Reservation Dogs.” What does that mean to you, finally seeing representation like this?

There’s this really cool wind behind the sails coming into, coming into this people group. Just to be any kind of part of that is an honor for me. And hopefully, we’ll see that for everybody else because people are interested in different people, other cultures, other different-looking people. I think they’re starting to realize that people find that fascinating. And if we start to explore each other a little bit more, hopefully, it’ll just continue on down that road and we’ll see more of each other on the big screen.

“Prey” is on Hulu right now.