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Amber Midthunder has a word for all the Prey "haters."
The 25-year-old is the star of the new Predator offshoot, which, after it debuted on the streaming service Aug. 5, became Hulu's No. 1 most-watched premiere ever, across film and television.
Set some 300 years in the past, Prey lands its iconic alien hunter on Earth to take on warriors of the Comanche Nation. Midthunder plays Naru, a skilled fighter who takes it upon herself to protect her tribe from the Predator even when her own people doubt her abilities.
When the first trailer debuted in June, a vocal few balked at the premise via their social media accounts, questioning how a female fighter from an era predating high-tech weaponry could possibly put up a fight with the Predator (played here by 6-foot-8 former pro basketball player Dane DiLiegro). Arnold Schwarzenegger besting the beast in the 1987 original seemed somehow more plausible to some.
Now that Prey is a huge hit with critics and fans, Midthunder says she's proud to prove the naysayers wrong.
"People are always going to say stuff, but that's just noise. Honestly, those people have no idea what they're talking about," she tells PEOPLE. "First of all, I feel really proud of our movie and I think [director] Dan [Trachtenberg] is an incredible filmmaker. He has made something that people can eat their words over."
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"I think a lot of people thought our movie would be some super-woke, F-the-patriarchy kind of a story, and that's not what it's about at all," adds Midthunder. "It's not a girl defying what men say she can and can't do. It's literally an individual who feels called to something and the people who know her don't think that is her calling. That is so much more personal and, I think, as the character, harder to deal with than anything."
Midthunder, who is a member of the Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Tribe, was wholly committed to bringing quality representation for Indigenous people in a big-budget Hollywood film like Prey. She says she learned a lot about Comanche people in the process.
"People don't know a lot about native history. Period. So they don't know what kind of warriors we were. There are people who don't even know that there are different tribes or languages," she explains. "So already that's coming from a place of ignorance. Then you look at it and you go, 'Oh no, man. Comanche were really, really great warriors.' "
"They were known for being some of the fiercest warriors of all. And they did have female-warrior society, so there were women that fought and hunted. So yeah, I think you look at that and you just [tell yourself], 'Alright, whatever, people are always going to say stuff.' I'm proud of what we did."
As the face of the movie, Midthunder, who had her breakout role on FX's Legion, says she took the pressure of expectations in stride. She mostly just wanted to bring an authentic, respectful portrayal to the big screen. In an entertaining, popcorn-movie package, of course.
"There's never a moment that I'm not thinking about representation or just what that accomplishes. Especially a movie like this, how it's representing Indigenous people and what that might mean or how people might receive that or feel about being represented by it," she says. "To me, that was the most important part of making the movie."
Adds Midthunder, "Every single day I was coming to work, and what I would think about from when I woke up to when I went to bed was, 'How is this representing Native people? How is this representing Comanche people?' And I just really hoped that Indian Country would like it, because that to me was where it started — that was where I felt like it lives and dies, and then we can go from there."
For it to be "received so positively" is "amazing" for the rising star.
"To have kids come up to me or parents come up on behalf of their kids and be like, 'They're such a big fan,' or, 'She's so inspired by your character,' that's something I could have never dreamed of," says Midthunder. "And I just feel so emotional about it."
Prey is now streaming on Hulu.