Amber Midthunder and the Comanche People Take on an Iconic Extraterrestrial Hunter in the Latest Incarnation of the Predator Film Series
Amber Midthunder as Naru in 20th Century Studios' PREY, exclusively on Hulu. Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios. © 2022 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

Arturo Hilario
El Observador

Amber Midthunder is an Indigenous-American actress who is taking on the role of both hunter and Prey in the newest installment of the sci-fi horror/action series, Predator. But this is a new and innovative approach to the series, one that should surprise fans and bring many new ones with its unique story set 300 years ago.

Among the new changes are its title, Prey, and a never before used time period and environment for the series. This time around the memorable alien hunter is taken back to the 1700’s Comanche Nation territory, where the Predator alien will face the fierce warriors of the tribe.

Midthunder plays the main protagonist Naru, who is one of these young and skilled warriors who lives with her community in the Northern Plains. Although Naru is fierce, crafty and headstrong, her brother Taabe (Dakota Beavers) and his fellow male warriors take the lead and take Naru’s skillsets for granted. But when the skies light up and strange occurrences began to envelope the tribe’s territory, Naru is the first to realize this is unlike any danger or enemy they have ever come upon before.

Directed by Dan Trachtenberg (10 Cloverfield Lane) the film also stars Dane DiLiegro as The Predator,

Harlan Blayne Kytwayhat, and Stefany Mathias.

Prey is available to stream August 5th on Hulu.

To start off, when you first read the script, what did you like most about the story and your character?

I did not know that this was a Predator film, so when I originally was aware of the story, I didn’t have anything other than my audition materials, and that was just about, you know, a young woman who was Comanche in the 1700’s who wanted to be a hunter. And I thought that alone was interesting, and I thought she seemed very complex and exciting. And I really am a big fan of Dan (Trachtenberg). So all those things put together was enough to make me interested and then found out, obviously, that it was Predator and that was its own set of emotions.

Once you found out it was a Predator film, did you go watch them for homework?

I definitely went back and made sure that I was familiar with all the different Predator movies. But I think that what’s interesting and what’s cool about the franchise as a whole, but especially our film, is that it stands on its own.

So each film in the series is definitely, like, has their own characters and their own storyline and stuff like that. So this definitely was no different than that in the sense it is very much its own movie while it is still connected to the other ones.

Jumping off of that, it is very contained in its own story and yes, it is a Sci-Fi and action film, but there’s a lot more to that. It’s little details like the use of medicinal plants, how the community functions, the little things like that which kind of round out the world and makes it seem like you’re stepping into the past and seeing how this community would deal with a situation like this. So my question is, why do you think these sorts of details and day to day relationships were important to show in this film?

That’s a great question. That’s a great thing to point out. I think that kind of there’s a twofold answer, which is that one, I’ve talked a lot about how I’m really proud of all that the world building and the representation that we have in our film, that I find it to be especially something to be proud of because of the fact that it comes via a Predator movie.

And I think you’re right that it’s not just something [unimportant] that we added into the film. I think that it adds to the film like having [details] like that, because these are all real things, you know what I mean? Or like even things that were created for this world, but when you look back specifically, it’s like, “oh yeah, my people have a flower that’s used for medicine” or just different resources and stuff like that. So it is as accurate and real as possible. And I think that it gives the Predator franchise a new texture and a new world to kind of live inside of.

Another thing about the movie, it’s shot really beautifully in the outdoor environment. So first question is, where did you guys shoot it? And secondly, what was the physical training like for this? Were you learning how to use bow and arrows, axe throwing, stuff like that?

Yeah, we were shooting in Calgary, Alberta, and around there in Canada. So a lot of what we shot also was on Stoney Nakoda Reserve Land, which is really cool for me, particularly because I’m Lakota Nakoda and Dakota. So to be shooting on Nakoda Reserve Land territory was just very neat, to be able to go to work every day and know that.

But yeah, we had a four-week boot camp that we all were a part of. So me, Dakota and all the rest of the boys were there and we did all of those things. Archery was one, spears, knives, and obviously I had the tomahawk. So kind of just figuring out like, everybody just kind of took their turn first, like building the skills and getting a relationship with the weapons and then kind of building off of like, “what’s the coolest thing that you can do with a blank“, you know what I mean? And just like seeing how we could incorporate that. So that environment was actually very kind of collaborative and interesting.

Can you talk about your experience on collaborating with director Dan Trachtenberg?

I mean, Dan is incredible. I have so much appreciation for getting to experience this with him. And I think that that only grows throughout this process from the time of meeting him to working with him. Then even in hindsight, it’s just he’s so kind and intelligent and very collaborative and such a strong storyteller in the sense that he’s like his attention to detail and his ability to give time to things and not show if he was ever under stress. But also to create an environment where everybody feels comfortable to be their best and then come out with something that has great story and exciting action and also is beautiful to look at. I mean, I’m just constantly more and more impressed.

Thank you, Amber. Now the final question, what do you hope audiences take away from Prey and the representation aspect of it?

Well, when it comes to representation, I’m the most proud of that, personally. I think that we accomplished a lot of things, but to me, that’s my favorite thing. And I think that right now our movie and also shows like Reservation Dogs and Rutherford Falls and Echo are all proving that Indigenous people being in front of and behind the camera have a lot of value that is, I think, an untapped resource to entertainment. And that the more you give that space, the more it can still be relatable and also provides a whole set of opportunity that doesn’t come unless it’s that arena.

And also, hopefully, it’s doing good things for our communities by creating jobs and opportunities for people to realize that it’s possible to accomplish your dreams or do whatever you want to do. So I’m really proud of that element.