In "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" (which takes places 10 years after the end of 2011's "Rise of the Planet of the Apes"), a growing nation of genetically evolved apes led by Caesar (played by Andy Serkis) is threatened by a band of human survivors of the devastating virus unleashed a decade earlier. They reach a fragile peace, but it proves short-lived, as both sides are brought to the brink of a war that will determine who will emerge as Earth's dominant species.
Gary Oldman, Keri Russell and Jason Clarke are among those who play the human survivors. Oldman, Russell, Serkis and director Matt Reeves were at 2014 WonderCon in Anaheim, Calif., for a "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" press conference. Here is what they said.
How would you describe your enthusiasm in joining the “Apes” franchise?
Oldman: When I look back on my childhood, I can’t imagine it without “Planet [of the Apes].” I was 9 or 10 when the first one came out. So it’s not only the opportunity to work with these good people, you’re also being asked to be a part of cinema history. That was beyond the story and Matt [Reeves]. For the most part, it comes with a very good history. It went a little wobbly for a while, but we’re back on track.
For more info: "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" website
Reeves: The thing about “Planet of the Apes,” for a long time, it was my childhood. I was so obsessed after seeing that movie. As a kid seeing the movie, the first thing you want to do is become one of those apes. It’s so fascinating. I was so interested in that John Chambers makeup and seeing gorillas on horsebacks with guns. That’s a pretty powerful image. I had the dolls. I had an 8 mm of “Planet of the Apes,” which I would watch until all the sprockets. I was obsessed.
The great thing about when I saw “Rise [of the Planet of the Apes],” having been a lifelong fan, I always wanted to be an ape. And when I saw that movie, I suddenly was an ape for reasons I never suspected would be done, which was I had an emotional identification with him. And that in that way, I was like, “Oh my God, now I know how it is to feel that character’s feelings.” And in a way, the most human character in that story is Ceasar, in what Andy did. I was so blown away by that.
Of course, the secret of “Planet of the Apes” is that we’re saying, “Oh, it’s all about how the animals get in charge.” But we are the animals. So the idea of doing the story about how the animals get in charge, since that’s what we are, the story is about us. What I thought was exciting about getting him to do this role was to explore. It’s a blockbuster; it’s a giant effects movie, but it’s a very unique one, because it’s about our nature. And to explore that from both sides and to extend everything they did in “Rise” was such an exciting thing to me, and that’s really why I wanted to do it.
Andy, what was it like to receive so much praise for playing Caesar? And what do you think about performance-capture roles being acknowledged by major movie awards?
Serkis: I’ve sort of become an unwitting spokesperson for the discrimination between actors who act in motion-capture suits or costumes and makeup. I’ve sort of ended up in this weird position — and I shouldn’t be. Performance-capture is just another bunch of cameras filming an actor’s performance.
And I think really, the most important thing is that perception. That needs to be understood. Regardless of any awards or accolades, it’s really understanding not only within our own acting community but the filmmaking community at large. Actually, the people who know the most about it are the audiences. The younger generation of audiences, when they become avatars in video games, they have an understanding of becoming someone else.
I never distinguish, when I’ve gotten different roles, whether they be live-action or performance-capture. Gary feels the same. You don’t alter your performance. You just have different cameras. That’s the way I feel.