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RIP Sonny Landham, Predator's "Billy"

We at TAFs mourn the passing of Sonny Landham, who played the memorable badass tracker Billy in Predator. He was 76 and died from congestive heart failure in Kentucky. Arnold Schwarzenegger took the time to say of his costar:

"Sonny Landham was such a joy to work with on Predator - so talented, so fun to be around. We'll miss him. My thoughts are with his family.‬"

We'll miss him too! He is immortalized on film by his character refusing to run and instead take a ballsy stand with the Predator armed with only a knife. Here's an exceprt from our interview with him a few years ago talking about that scene:

TheArnoldFans: Was the death of your character ever shot on film or was it always an implied death?

Sonny: When we shot it, I had no way to die in the film. One night where we were all sitting at the dinner table and we were trying to figure out a way to die. Then I remembered a story of Tim Rossovich, this guy at USC who made about 12 guys angry at him one night at this bar. He was up against the wall and he was 6 foot 5” at 265 pounds. They all came at him and he reached for a beer bottle and smacked it over his head and turned around with this giant bottle with blood streaming from his head and he said ‘Now which one wants me first?’ Well, it scared them all to death and they went running out of the bar. So when we did Predator, I thought of that and I said, here we are running and I said what are we running from. I’m just going to stop, throw all this stuff down and take the machete and draw the knife across my chest and say, you want my blood? Come and get it! And I owe that to Tim Rossovich.

With my death, you did hear me scream and then later you see my skull and backbone jerked out up in the tree. Well, what was supposed to happen was Arnold was supposed to find the spaceship, and blow the spaceship where the Predator went back to regain life…where his life-system was. But they blew the money for the spaceship and you were going to see all of these trophies from all over the universe…

TheArnoldFans: So the Predator would have placed Billy’s skull here? This scene is like what they did in the sequel with the Alien skulls.

Sonny: Yeah, but this was supposed to happen in the original. But they went somewhere like Romania or somewhere like that to have the music done and blew about a quarter of a million dollars there on that and it wasn’t usable.

TheArnoldFans: Was that laugh of yours in Predator your real laugh or did you create that for the film?

Sonny: No, that was basically my laugh. It was first done in “48 Hours” and then it became one of those things were people said, do it again. Then it started to become in every movie. I mean, what am I going to be know for: my laugh? In Predator they wanted the laugh and it was used a couple of times. In the ending of Predator, it was really exaggerated. 

We hope Sonny's continuing to belt out that laugh wherever he is now!

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