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The star of the latest instalment in the Predator film series says she felt a responsibility both to indigenous people and fans of the franchise to perform her role well.
Amber Midthunder said she appreciated director Dan Trachtenberg and 20th Century Studios “taking a chance” on the project, titled Prey, which incorporates the culture of the Comanche Nation.
Prey tells the story of a young, highly-skilled female warrior, Naru (Midthunder), who sets out to prove herself as a worthy hunter when danger threatens her camp.
The film is set in the Comanche Nation some 300 years ago, and sees Naru come to realise that the prey she stalks is a highly evolved alien Predator, with a technically advanced arsenal.
As well as Midthunder it also stars newcomer Dakota Beavers, Stormee Kipp, Michelle Thrush, Julian Black Antelope, and Dane DiLiegro as the Predator.
Speaking about her role at a UK Gala screening of Prey in Leicester Square, London, Midthunder, who is of indigenous heritage, said: “Honestly, the challenge to me that was bigger was representing an indigenous female action hero, because that’s something that I don’t recall really seeing at all.
“Having Dan and 20th century get behind taking a chance, having not just this franchise have its first female action hero, but an indigenous one,” she told the PA news agency.
“I just wanted to do that well.”
She added: “I think that (character) would have existed no matter who played the role, so the fact that that was going to be my responsibility, that was kind of what I came to work every day (for).
“I didn’t want to let Comanche people down, I didn’t want to let indigenous people down and also fans of the franchise.
“Everybody wants to be delivered a good movie and a good character and hopefully we got both.”
The Predator franchise began with the 1987 film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and directed by John McTiernan.
The film told the story of an elite team of mercenaries sent to the jungles of South America on a recovery mission only to find themselves hunted by an extra-terrestrial warrior with an arsenal of high-tech weapons.
It was a hit and spawned five subsequent films.
Trachtenberg told PA he had wanted to make the film “since the third grade” and had worked extensively with Comanche educator and consultant Juanita Pahdopony to make the film as authentic as possible.
The Comanche language is incorporated into the film with the characters’ names, which are all Comanche.
“One of the most rewarding moments for me was working with Juanita,” Trachtenberg said.
“She was near tears after reading the screenplay, not because there hasn’t been a movie that functioned the way it does, which there hasn’t, but because it features Native Americans as the heroes of the movie.”
Prey will be available to stream from August 5 on Disney+ under the Star banner in the UK.