Over at WonderCon, GEEK got the scoop about Dawn of the Planet of the Apes at a press conference for the film with actors Gary Oldman, Andy Serkis, Keri Russell and director Matt Reeves.
Here are the deets that we got from the creative team about the approach the new team had to take coming onto the film and what we can expect the world of the next installment to be like.
Gary, how did your involvement come about to be a part of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes?
Gary Oldman: Really, you look back and I can’t imagine a sort of childhood without (the original) Planet. I was nine/ten when the first one came out. It’s not only the opportunity to work with these good people. You’re also being asked to be part of cinema history so that was above and beyond the story. You’re involved with something for the most part that comes with a very good pedigree – I mean, it went a little wobbly for a while but we’re back on track.
Performance capture is on the verge of finally getting the recognition as a new form of the acting craft. Andy, how do you feel being one of the forerunners of this type of performance as your roles have been the most notable in the field?
Andy Serkis: I’ve never really distinguished whether (my roles) be live-action or performance capture. I’ve played many different roles and Gary’s done the same. You don’t alter your performance because you’re using a different camera to film you.
Gary Oldman: The question that’s often asked is, “What is it like working with Andy Serkis as the Ape? You’re better to answer that since you’ve got all the big scenes with him.” I come to work and I get into a costume and Andy comes to work and gets into a costume. So at least you can see his face, you can see the eyes and you see the emotion. I would actually rather that than – if you were wearing a mask then the question might be “What’s it like working with someone who’s behind a mask?” but you’re not.
Keri Russell: It’s Andy, it’s not anything other than a really talented actor. I’m seeing Andy’s eyes and hearing his voice, hearing him talk about his family – that’s the exact same as any other scene.
Andy Serkis: And in this film, there’s brilliant performances across the board. A load of talented actors playing apes as well. It is an ensemble piece.
To Matt, what was it like to be given the opportunity to helm this project?
Matt Reeves: It was a dream and it was terrifying. What essentially happened on the project was that I had a great affinity for Rise [of the Planet of the Apes], it was really moving. When they approached me it turned out that for a number of reasons he [Rupert] didn’t want to do it. The idea was carrying forward what happens in Rise – the emotional heart of those apes, the co-existence between these two populations that were struggling for survival. The thing that was really important to me is that we carry forward the apes in an emotional way that you can relate to. And we take the humans and really in a way that was different from Rise – take those humans and depict them in a way where they aren’t villains either. There are no villains in our story. It’s all about survival and trying to find the way to sort of master our nature and impulses within us.
And what was your aim with where the story is going next?
We already know what happens so the story isn’t immediately about the what happens, its about how it happens. I had a screenwriting instructor many years ago who talked to me about stories and he said “there are the kinds of story that are about the what and then there are the stories that are about the why. If you already know what happened then it becomes about the why.” The why is about psychology and about character and that is what I find interesting. I wanted to start earlier because there is a long and interesting path all about the lives of these people and how they’re affected by this situation – the idea would be that the next phase of this story is how those lives continue in this struggle.
Gary, tell us more about the community you lead and where they are at the onset of this picture, and where they stand in regards to the burgeoning population of apes.
Gary Oldman: Initially we don’t know that there are apes there cause this community has survived the flu – the epidemic that has sort of wiped out a part of the world. We believe the military had done their job and that basically they have wiped out the apes. So the thing is we have food, we have water but the currency is – for lack of a better word – electricity. That’s the currency and we need that to communicate to the outside world to eventually find out if there is anyone out there or how many are out there, who is out there. So we believe for all intents and purposes that we could be the only survivors. So then we discover a community of apes who are all doing their thing with their family and we’ve all been wiped out. And of course we discover each other, the drama is: Can the apes and the humans coexist?
Matt Reeves: For me it’s really the story of two families. There’s a human family and an ape family. That’s what the colony is – that’s the human family. The difference is that the apes, they’re on the ascendancy. The idea is we start in this ape world and we’re following their development . It sort of mirrors our own sort of tribal development as language is coming into being. You’re seeing all of the bonds that have formed and the next generation that is coming and the civilization they’re building. They’re really on the way up but the humans they have just had the most massive sort of tragedy that has happened to them and they are a family that’s trying to heal itself.
So these two families have to survive and the stakes are all about the things that they care about. And also there is the question for the humans, deeply about what it is that they’ve lost. The idea for the humans in this story is what it took to still be here and what was lost along the way. What’s worth fighting for at this point? All of those questions I think are emotional questions. So the emotional depth of that was really important to me so that this was not “Oh let’s see the Apes destroy the humans! I can’t wait!” That’s not what this story is about. And so that’s really the struggle, the struggle about what are these two families going to do to avoid killing each other?
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes hits theaters July 11th.