LAST SUMMER, Dane DiLiegro would get up each morning and stare on the ceiling.
“There’s that 4-second window the place you neglect what’s occurring, and you’ve got that hardwired mentality that you just’re only a particular person dwelling their life. After which I’d keep in mind, ‘Oh, shit—I’m the Predator.”
The 6’9 former D1 school athlete has since moved on from palming basketballs with ease, buying and selling in his jersey for a profession of heavy foam latex and layers upon layers of detailed prosthetic make-up. His newest bout—following different work as on-screen fictional creatures like Candy Residence‘s Muscle Monster and Ba’al on American Horror Tales—introduced him to the 1700s in Dan Trachtenberg’s Prey, a prequel entry to the longstanding Predator franchise. DiLiegro had the consideration of portraying the earliest iteration of the humanoid house monster recognized for treating people as play issues, this time setting its sights on a Comanche warrior named Naru (Amber Midthunder) and the remainder of her tribe.
Whereas this is perhaps the seventh time we’re seeing the notorious alien species on display, the model we see in Prey is technically the very first time—that we all know of, at the very least—it has appeared on Earth. Which means Trachtenberg and DiLiegro actually had the chance to shift gears and present us a extra “animalistic, lean, and dynamic” model of the Predator.
“[Dan] didn’t need Kevin Peter Corridor, who performed the unique Predator within the first and second movies,” DiLiegro tells Males’s Well being. “He didn’t need that WWF 1987 wrestler standoff kind factor. He wished a departure, which is nice for me as a result of it gave me a excessive artistic ceiling to do what I would like for this character. It’s quick and feral, and I’m considering it’s extra like a panther and one thing feline. I wished this Predator to appear like if he’s working by way of the woods, he’s accomplished it 100,000 occasions. He is aware of each root, tree, and department. I actually received a possibility to point out my athleticism, and it translated very properly on display.”
It turns on the market’s much more to taking part in a legendary extraterrestrial species than meets the attention: conceptualizing the character’s motivation, weeks of practical power and conditioning coaching, and swimming in gallons of sweat below a 80-pound swimsuit, for example.
We talked with DiLiegro about going from the basketball court docket to creature performing, the bodily benefits that come from his background as a professional athlete, and never getting pigeonholed as a makeup-covered monster for the remainder of his life.
Males’s Well being: If you’re not far off from 7 ft tall, basketball looks like an affordable profession route. At what level did you set the ball down and go, “I need to be in monster films,” and never simply be in them, however be the monster?
Dane DiLiegro: I performed 4 years of D1 school basketball. I went on to play professional for 8 years—7 years in Italy and 1 yr in Israel. I used to be additionally with the Boston Celtics for a summer season. 3 summers in the past in 2019, I basically was scouted by a stunt coordinator in Boston who really helpful I look into performing as a result of my measurement and athleticism. Two weeks later, I booked a Netflix present referred to as Candy Residence, taking part in a character referred to as Muscle Monster. I needed to transfer to LA for what I assumed was 3 months, and right here I’m nonetheless in the identical residence. I’ve been finding out to do face performing, however there may be undoubtedly a bonus at play [to creature acting] with my measurement, athleticism, and sports activities background. I nonetheless prepare day by day like I am a professional athlete, and I’ve to hold that with me once I come into a brand new function, whether or not new function or non-human.
How do you end up making ready for a task when you recognize your precise face will not be seen? Do you look wherever specifically for inspiration?
Usually, I must see the design of the character I play earlier than something. A whole lot of the characters I play are non-verbal, which requires me to inform a narrative with out phrases. For me, the best way I base my characters and what drives them and what strikes them, I must see the design first.
For Predator, he’s received that feral animal hunched again, spines on him, the fin, Japanese ghost dreads. All these designs of the character drove how that character moved and motivated him. If you’re growing a personality, you must work out what their needs, wants, wishes, fears are. If you’re below the rubber as a non-human, it’s simple to neglect you’re this factor. You possibly can’t at all times look within the mirror, so being cognizant of that undoubtedly comes into play as properly.
How does working with movement seize evaluate to once you’re performing in a swimsuit below prosthetics?
I did all of the performing, stunts, and movement seize for Predator, and movement seize could be very taxing on the physique. It’s not for the faint of coronary heart. We spent a day in a free working academy, and I ran round this facility in a movement seize inertia swimsuit doing all of the motions that the Predator does. Whether or not it was one thing so simple as strolling, strolling and slashing, working and slashing, leaping, leaping, doing strikes with weaponry. Then we received into extra taxing issues: working, sprinting after which leaping off a ledge right into a foam pit and swinging my arm again and pretending to slash somebody, or pretending I used to be hanging off a tree and leaping off of that into one other tree. The entire actions you see him doing, whether or not CGI or sensible, is me truly doing these issues.
You mentioned you’re nonetheless coaching like a professional athlete. With a sports activities background, how have these bodily expertise and attributes performed into this chapter of your profession?
As a basketball participant, I used to be by no means essentially the most gifted man within the gymnasium. I needed to depend on my laborious work and energy, stamina, and endurance. I do loads of power and conditioning now, usually within the morning. I’m doing practical coaching that retains my physique the place it must be, and retains my joints and all issues that bend in a 6’9 man which might be required to maintain me collectively. I carry out loads of upkeep on these.
I do loads of conditioning within the afternoon. Whether or not it’s mountain climbing, biking, or loads of occasions I will go to a soccer area and convey it again to my basketball days with suicides. I will do 70 yard shuttles. It’s that intermittent depth that’s required. A whole lot of these workout routines I do are unsexy, however they’re essential in maintaining my physique collectively with the intention to give me the flexibility to do what I must do. Every take, you’re exerting your self between 15 seconds to a minute, and you’ve got to have the ability to do it over and over.
Do you are feeling as if you have got a bonus over different actors that don’t have the peak, the overall physicality, and the stamina?
Positively an enormous benefit. Your physique must be in a spot the place you’re in a position to run, bounce, leap, swing, punch, and do loads of bodily performing with out getting damage. It takes a particular particular person. With my bigger measurement comes extra power. I can stand as much as a 150 pound swimsuit if I must with the intention to make it by way of. And also you’re not simply doing this for at some point—you’re doing it for a day that’s 16 hours, after which you might be doing that very same factor for 3 months straight. It’s important to be as recent to start with of the shoot as you’re on the finish of the shoot.
And what about weight-reduction plan? I’m certain you additionally needed to preserve some kind of regime so you might match into the identical swimsuit day by day.
I needed to lose 25 kilos for this function. I eradicated breakfast, and I did loads of intermittent fasting. Usually (and that is my basketball weight loss plan), I steer away from flour, dairy, and sugar. You possibly can solely eat it if it walks, swims, flies, or comes out of the bottom. Sugar is the killer, and if I break my guidelines, it is usually dairy. I’ll have a cheeseburger or pizza every so often as a result of they’re simply vital issues.
I attempt to eat what the Earth offers us. It was troublesome to keep up that as a result of I’m sweating and dealing laborious all day, and I’ve to eat. You get power from carbs, so it was a tough dance between consuming sufficient the place it didn’t have an effect on my physique and in addition having the power to maintain me by way of the lengthy days of capturing.
As soon as the Predator comes down from the ship, you take part as one of many major gamers with a good quantity of display time. What’s the stress like when performing realizing that you just won’t have strains, however you’re nonetheless an important a part of the movie?
There’s loads of accountability that involves taking part in this character. On the similar level, similar to professional sports activities, you can not let issues get you too overestimated. It’s important to keep constant and stick with the mindset of ‘I used to be meant to do that.’ I’m displaying as much as work and carry out, and it’s very simple to psyche your self out. It’s important to present up and be slightly senseless, however be on prime of your stuff.
Did you end filming wanting to take in your subsequent creature function, or are you looking for one thing rather less bodily aggressive?
It is half and half for me. I might play Predator all day. A few of these greater iconic characters—Jason Voorhees in Friday the thirteenth, or perhaps a Xenomorph in an Alien film can be nice. I like all that. However on the similar level, I can play people and have my face on the market. I generally is a physician, a lawyer, a soldier. I’d somewhat not get pigeonholed in my profession the additional down this monster tunnel I am going. They’re actually enjoyable, and I’d gladly take all of the monster roles, however I need to be a human as properly. If I couldn’t have to sit down by way of a lot make-up and simply put on a t-shirt, that will be a really good breath of recent air. I’m not complaining, I’m simply open to all the pieces.
How a lot are you going to overlook being the Predator? Did you have got a love/hate relationship with being in that swimsuit?
If you’re on digicam as a human, it’s very uncooked, visceral, and in your face with 300 folks watching you. If you cowl your self in latex, you are able to do no matter you need as a result of it’s not you. Individuals can’t see you. It provides you a freedom, and makes it simpler to let go and carry out this character the way you need to. You may have this foam bubble of latex which makes it very releasing and liberating, which is good.
However you’re additionally lined in 80 kilos of froth latex, which is actually a sponge. If you sweat, and once you’re in Calgary in the course of the summer season and it’s over 95 levels, you’re sweating. It’s sitting there within the swimsuit, and it will get heavier and wetter as the times go on. Each time I swung my arm, you’d see sweat squirt out the perimeters and out of my knees. It may be disagreeable, and you must be comfy with being uncomfortable at occasions. It was difficult, to say the least.
Sean Abrams is the Senior Editor, Progress and Engagement at Males’s Well being. He’s a former hip hop dancer who likes lengthy walks on the seashore and enormous glasses of tequila. You could find his earlier work at Maxim, Elite Each day, and AskMen.
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