Prey, a prequel set in the Predator cinematic universe, has been a bit of a surprise hit on Hulu after skipping a traditional theatrical release. The movie has quickly become one of the streaming service’s most-watched films after its debut last week, and fans and critics alike have raved about the showcase for actress Amber Midthunder.
But another star of the show certainly shines as well: the human inside the Predator costume wreaking havoc on the North American plains of the 18th century. That would be Dane DiLiegro, an actor who has a small collection of roles to his name prior to becoming an invisible killing machine in Prey.
And as the New York Times details, DiLiegro had an interesting road to Hollywood that includes an international basketball career and a lot of time in the makeup chair to become movie monsters. The Massachusetts native was actually a college hoops player before embarking on an overseas career until he returned stateside and got interested in Hollywood.
As the story goes, DiLiegro was on set talking to a stunt coordinator who saw his 6-foot-8 frame and told him where he could have a future in Hollywood.
But typecasting in Los Angeles is in the eye of the beholder. A few years prior, a film company had come to Boston and was looking for actors. On the advice of an admirer — OK, his mom — DiLiegro, home for a visit, had answered the ad. He didn’t get a role, but a year or two later, while he was visiting his parents again, the company called back, looking for a muscular stand-in.
“I ended up just standing around the set all day, talking to the stunt coordinator,” he remembered. But the stunt coordinator had a suggestion — what he would do, were he not a stunt coordinator but an affable, hardworking, 6 foot 8½ inch basketball player looking to make a career change.
“Dude, you need to be in monster movies,” he said.
The advice has paid off, with roles in American Horror Story, Netflix’s Sweet Home and, of course, as a Predator. And though he’s often appeared on screen under a lot of foam and latex, DiLiegro has worked with some heavy hitters in the monster game and hopes this is just the start of his career.
(“I was told to bring a balletic svelte-ness to this creature,” he said. “The No. 1 word the director used was ‘feral.’”)
Now he lives in West Hollywood when he’s not on location, and spends his spare time studying masters such as Doug Jones, who starred in “Pan’s Labyrinth” and “Hellboy.”
“People don’t realize,” he said. “There’s a lot of nuance that goes into playing a monster. With each movement, your body is telling a story.”
His full story is fascinating, and perhaps it’s not surprising that monster movies was not his first instinct for a career in the industry. As DiLiegro pointed out, he’d love to play an actual human on screen someday, too.
[via NY Times]