Concept and creation
The Predator design is credited to special effects artist Stan Winston. While flying to Japan with Aliens director James Cameron, Winston, who had been hired to design the Predator, was doing concept art on the flight. Cameron saw what he was drawing and said, "I always wanted to see something with mandibles." Winston then included them in his designs. Stan Winston's studio created all of the physical effects for Predator and Predator 2, creating the body suit for actor Kevin Peter Hall and the mechanical facial effects. The studio was hired after attempts to create a convincing monster (including Jean-Claude Van Damme wearing a much different body suit) had failed. Arnold Schwarzenegger recommended Winston after his experience working on The Terminator.
The Predator was originally designed with a long neck, a dog-like head and a single eye. This design was abandoned when it became apparent that the jungle locations would make shooting the complex design too difficult. Originally, the studio contracted the makeup effects for the alien from Richard Edlund's Boss Film Creature Shop. However, problems filming the alien in Mexico led the makeup effects responsibilities to be given to Stan Winston. According to former Boss Films make-up supervisor Steve Johnson, the makeup failed because of an impractical design by McTiernan that included 12-inch leg extensions that gave the Predator a backward bent satyr-leg. The design did not work in the jungle locations. After six weeks of shooting in the jungles of Palenque, Mexico, the production had to shut down so that Winston could make a new Predator. This took eight months and then filming resumed for five weeks, ending in February 1987.
Jean-Claude Van Damme was originally cast as the Predator; the idea was that the star's abilities in martial arts would make the Predator an agile, ninja-esque hunter. When compared to Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers, and Jesse Ventura, actors known for their bodybuilding regimens, it became apparent a more physically imposing man was needed to make the creature appear threatening. Eventually, Van Damme was removed from the film and replaced by actor and mime artist Kevin Peter Hall. Hall, standing at an imposing height of 7 feet 2 inches (2.18 m), had just finished work as a in Harry and the Hendersons.
Hall played the Predator in the first and second movies. He was trained in the art of mime and used many tribal dance moves in his performance, such as during the fight between Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Predator at the end of the first movie. In Predator 2, according to a "making of" featurette, Danny Glover suggested the Los Angeles Lakers to be the other Predators because Glover himself was a big fan. Hall persuaded some of the Lakers to play background Predators because they couldn't find anyone on short notice. Hall died not long after Predator 2 was released in theaters.
In Alien vs. Predator, Welsh actor Ian Whyte, standing at 7 feet 1 inch and a fan of the Predator comics and movies, took over as the man in the Predator suits, such as portraying the "Celtic" Predator during its fight with an Alien warrior. Whyte returned to portray the "Wolf" Predator in Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem.
In Predators, actors Brian Steele and Carey Jones both portrayed a new breed of Predator known as the "Black Super Predators," who have been dropping humans on their planet for many years to play a survival game against them. In a nod to the first film, Derek Mears played the Predator as the creature appeared in the original, dubbed the "Classic Predator."
In The Predator (2018) stuntman and parkour athlete Brian A. Prince, standing 6’10”, portrays the title character, as a "standard" Predator that scapes to earth after stealing a weapon called "Predator Killer", and that is being hunted down by a far larger genetically enhanced predator.
The enhanced Predator is mostly CGI, however 6’9” Canadian actor Kyle Strauts and also Brian Prince served as stand-in for the character on set.
Special and make-up effects
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. (February 2017)
The Predator's blood was made from a combination of the liquid from glow sticks mixed with K-Y Jelly. The mixture loses its glow quickly, so new batches had to be quickly made between takes. The technique was used in all five films featuring the Predator.
The camouflage effect was designed by R/Greenberg Associates, under the direction of Joel Hynek. The idea for the effect came in a dream one of the Thomas brothers (who wrote the film) had, in which there was a chrome man who was inside a reflective sphere. The man blended in, perfectly camouflaged, reflecting from all directions and only visible when in motion. The effect was created by repeating an image in a pattern of ripples in the shape of the Predator's body. It proved very effective and was a new way of presenting an "invisible man." Before there was digital rendering technology all of the camouflage was done optically using photo-chemical means, so that one would never get the same result twice from combining the same pieces of film.
After the original movies, Amalgamated Dynamics took over from Stan Winston Studio in creating the props for the Predators in the Alien vs. Predator film and a number of effects houses worked on the various other effects.