Woody Har­rel­son mon­keys around on the set of Planet of the Apes

At tril­ogy’s end, Cae­sar be­gins quest to avenge apes af­ter slaugh­ter

Life & Style Weekend - - WELCOME // INSIDE TODAY - With Seanna Cronin

WOODY Har­rel­son is the new vil­lain in the re­booted Planet of the Apes fran­chise. In the fi­nal film in the tril­ogy, Cae­sar wres­tles with his darker in­stincts and be­gins his own mythic quest to avenge his kind af­ter the apes suf­fer unimag­in­able losses.

Har­rel­son plays the Colonel, a driven mil­i­tary leader who will go to any lengths in his fight against Cae­sar’s forces. But as the Emmy Award-win­ning ac­tor re­veals in this Q&A, he’d love to play one of the apes in any fu­ture films.

Q: How did di­rec­tor Matt Reeves pitch the Colonel to you?

A: I think I read the script, and then we talked, that’s usu­ally how it works any­way. I liked the idea of the Colonel, I mean, sh*t, you’d rather be an ape in one of th­ese movies, a love­able ape, like Bad Ape! Steve Zahn knocks it out of the park! Ob­vi­ously, the part of the Colonel is kind of loosely based, or at least the con­cept is (sim­i­lar to) Kurtz from Heart Of Dark­ness, bet­ter known in Apoc­a­lypse Now. I was a lit­tle wor­ried that the char­ac­ter was too starkly evil, but that’s the great thing about Matt, who has about 10 mil­lion things to do in a day, yet he’ll take the time and work it over with you. I had some ideas of how to make the guy a lit­tle more hu­man. You want there to be a rea­son be­hind what­ever looks to be, on the sur­face, evil. That also makes it more re­al­is­tic to play him. So that was our ear­li­est con­ver­sa­tion that I re­mem­ber, and that con­ver­sa­tion kept hap­pen­ing, we kept work­ing on it, and Matt’s great, he’s a hard worker – if he says he’s go­ing to do some­thing, he re­ally does it.

Q: As an ac­tor who has worked with some ef­fects but not with per­for­mance cap­ture, how did you find it?

A: At first it’s a lit­tle daunt­ing, be­cause they’ve got all the dots on their face and the grey suit which makes it look like ev­ery­body’s in Span­dex or some­thing. And th­ese mo­cap cam­eras hov­er­ing in front of their faces all the time, it takes some get­ting used to. But I’ve got to say, af­ter a day or so, it’s just how it is, it’s nor­mal. And the ac­tors are so good. I think Andy is one of the great­est ac­tors alive. You ac­cept them as apes, the way they move, ev­ery­thing. It’s an amaz­ing thing, be­cause I never thought I’d be ex­cited about some­thing like this, but I do think now I’m re­ally be­liev­ing in mo­tion cap­ture. Ob­vi­ously, to get to do this and see the evo­lu­tion of it; I was watch­ing it at early stages when they showed me some scenes many months ago that were worked on a lit­tle bit, and some­times you’d see apes, some­times you’d see what was shot, and to watch it de­velop, it’s great.

Q: Was it eas­ier be­cause you’d seen the first two films?

A: When I saw the first one, I was like, “holy sh*t! I can­not wait to see the sec­ond one, that was in­cred­i­ble.” Then boom, I watched the sec­ond one and that may even have been bet­ter than the first one, that never hap­pens. I couldn’t wait to see the next one, then got to be in it. So it’s a lucky life. And when I did fi­nally see this one, I was just blown away.

Q: If the op­por­tu­nity arose, would you want to come back and play an ape?

A: I think I would do that. I think peo­ple might know it was me, be­cause my voice is recog­nis­able, though they might think it’s Woody Allen, the way things go with me. I’d be maybe up for that. Just to be a part of it, it’s such an amaz­ing thing, this story hooked me. I would love to be ac­tu­ally a good guy in one of th­ese movies if they do one. This is a tril­ogy and War is num­ber three, so who knows?

Q: This film feels like a gi­ant West­ern in its scope.

A: That’s the beauty of it; you’re not con­scious of the tech­nol­ogy which is what’s im­por­tant. It’s like a clas­sic West­ern in many ways, and a re­venge story.

War for the Planet of the Apes opens on Thurs­day.


Woody Har­rel­son in a scene from War for the Planet of the Apes.

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