How Andy Serkis and Matt Reeves Supported ‘Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes’

Andy Serkis and Matt Reeves, who collaborated on 2014’s Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and 2017’s War for the Planet of the Apes, may not lead the new adaptation, but still played a role in Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes.

At the film’s Los Angeles premiere on Thursday, Kingdom director Wes Ball recounted how at the very beginning of working on the project, “I had dinner with Matt because I had known him from our movie Mouse Guard together and I told him all these ideas we were doing. He was literally about to get on a plane to go do Batman, and after that dinner I felt like we were ready to go make this movie and have the support to just go for it. And the same thing with Andy, when we got him involved.”

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Serkis starred as Caesar — the leader of the apes — in three Planet of the Apes movies, starting with Rise of the Planet of the Apes in 2011. The new film is set many years after the reign of Caesar, as a young ape (played by Owen Teague) goes on a journey that will define a future for apes and humans alike.

“Caesar is very much a character in this story, he’s an important character in this story, so we wanted to make sure we were getting it right,” Ball told The Hollywood Reporter. “Andy is just a nice dude — he read the script, listened to me babble on about what we wanted to do with the story, showed him all the concept art, just nothing but support. He understood that we had to be kind of courageous and brave and do what we were trying to do here. When I finally showed the movie to Andy and he wrote me a very nice email and gave me the thumbs up, that was everything to me.”

Teague also had his own conversations with Serkis throughout the film, noting, “I’ve looked up to him since I was a little kid and I wanted to take everything that he was going to give me.” The actor explained that Serkis told him the performance capture technology that is used to transform them into apes “is just acting really, there’s no mystery. It’s not about impersonating an ape, it’s really about finding the truth of the character and pursuing that.”

Teague did go to “ape school,” however, to learn how to move believably on screen, acknowledging that “When you watch the movie, they’re not just generic apes on screen, every single person has a developed, specific character in how they move and how they speak.”

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes hits theaters May 10.

Ryan Fish contributed to this report.

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