Prey star Amber Midthunder was put through the wringer while filming the Predator prequel, from learning to fling around a tomahawk and using a bow and arrow to working with a super hyperactive dog. But there was one particular scene – first glimpsed in the official trailer, and involving a whole lot of "mud" – that she found particularly challenging.
The sequence sees her character Naru, a young Comanche warrior who goes rogue when her tribe refuses to believe she's seen a near-invisible force skinning snakes and butchering bears near their camp, try to elude the menacing alien. To do so, she submerges herself in a mossy sludge, which shields her from the Predator's heat signature technology. It took nearly a whole week to shoot.
"We did it right towards the end and we'd had lions and bears, oh my, and all that stuff and then we get to the mud pit," Midthunder tells Total Film. "We would do splits, we would come in in the early evening when the sun was still up and we'd do that for the first half of the day. I would get hosed off at lunch and then go film fight scenes at night.
"I had heard about it beforehand," she laughs. "Somebody had done a test and was like, 'Oh, it's not that bad, it's just like water with leaves in it.' So I was like, 'Easy, great, amazing, it'll just be like a mud bath or whatever.' Then I get there, and first of all, I don't even know what it was made of. I don't want to know. It was thick, I feel like it sunk into my skin and probably is still with me somehow. It's still in my blood a little bit. It had this smell that Dan [Trachtenberg, the director] told me recently, he said, 'It didn't smell that way until it touched human flesh.' Like, the most disgusting thing to say. He said as soon as the person would get in there, whether it was me or a test person, it would smell crazy. I don't want to know what that chemical reaction is. So yeah, it was great."
"Then I'd get out and I would stand in a literal water trough and four women would peel all my layers off, because it was like in a wetsuit," Midthunder continues. "We were doing that every day, but over the course of the shoot, you put buckskin in mud and water like that and then, when you dry it, it gets hard and starts turning into rawhide. So then I couldn't bend my knees in my costume anymore. It was really humbling."
Talking about the training she underwent before production kicked off, and the stunts she had to take part in, Midthunder recalls Trachtenberg being "very open to collaboration" and likens the process more like a fun boot camp than a job.
"It was just a lot of going in and just spending time with whatever weapons we had," she says. "We'd consistently be like, 'What is the coolest thing that everybody can do with the lance? What's the coolest thing you can do with this? There were even moments on set where Dan would just come up and be like, 'I feel we need something here. Can we spin it in the air? Can we do something like that?' It was almost like working backwards. It wasn't so much, 'Oh, here, learn these things.' It was more like, 'There is no limit', so that kind of capacity was both exciting and intimidating, you know? It was very cool and interesting."
You can read our full Q&A with Trachtenberg on the making of Prey right here. Prey is out now on Disney Plus in the UK, and on Hulu in the US. If you've already penciled its release date onto your calendar, then check out our list of what other upcoming movies are heading our way in 2022 and beyond.