And what about the meals? I understand you were treated to Kai’s version of Iron Chef.
Oh, my God, it was very tough scheduling things in between all the meals the guys eat. They don’t miss their meals for anything! We had to plan ahead and then often change plans right in the middle. There was a lot of improvising, because we’d be shooting and have to stop so Kai could go cook one of his meals. But we filmed that, too, of course, and it was very interesting to see how big a role food plays in being a bodybuilder. Most people automatically think that being a bodybuilder means lifting weights in the gym, but they don’t think about the other half of the lifestyle, which is the eating. And Kai was cooking in his tiny little apartment with all the burners on the stove going at once. The heat was unbearable—but he was still in his hoodie and sweat pants!
I know this isn’t the sequence in which you filmed the guys, but let’s jump over to your visit to the FLEX offices in New York City.
Yeah, Kai was there, too. It was interesting to see how the office staff reacted to him. His exterior can look intimidating. He’s got scars on his face and unusual hair, not to mention his size. Right away you see a character walking by. But that’s just the outside. He’s very insightful, well-spoken, and soft-spoken—not the typical image people have of a bodybuilder. It’s cool to show that, because people have their stereotypes.
This film will show the many dimensions of all these guys. It’s a great representation of bodybuilders as individuals, and what they do to excel at this sport.
The Predator talks about the challenges of filming, opening up for the camera, and being a part of history in the making
FLEX: When did you first see Pumping Iron?
Kai: It was sometime in the late ’80s. It was the class movie at the institution I was in at the time (Greene became a ward of the state at age 6), and I remember the main character was this huge dude who liked working out.
It became a point of reference for my life because I was working out by that time, but didn’t know what competitive bodybuilding was, didn’t really know what bodybuilding itself was, until that movie. The ’80s was a time when pop culture was very heavily influenced by the idea of working out—you had Olivia Newton-John telling everyone to “Get Physical” and Bruce Lee in Enter the Dragon was still very popular. Hollywood was showcasing Arnold, Sylvester Stallone, Jean-Claude Van Damme and other action heroes who were larger-than-life, with equally larger-than-life muscles. That exposure made a lasting impression on me as a teenager.
Seeing that movie definitely changed my life forever. I’ve seen it hundreds of times. My friends and I could quote the entire movie verbatim. If fact, several years after seeing it, at my first Colorado Pro [in 2006], I got a chance to meet [IFBB pro] Darrem Charles. The whole time we were backstage, we went back and forth with dialogue from the movie. It was clear we were both well-versed in the art of Pumping Iron. That was our common ground. I can imagine—I hope—aspiring athletes in the future will do the same with Generation Iron.
I remember being very excited and honored. I wished that the people who were in my life 20 years ago were still around so I could share this with them. Part of me wanted to call them up and say, “I’m going to be in the new Pumping Iron!” The uniqueness of this sport is in how lonely the journey can be as you dare to dream and aspire to be the best bodybuilder in the world. It’s unfortunate that the people who were in my life then are no longer in it now, because my life is drastically different today. There’s no one here today that I could share notes with from 20 years ago. But it was still very exciting!