Steve Zahn plays lonely chimp Bad Ape
Is Bad Ape the comic relief?
Well, there’s a lot of weight to this character – he’s gone through a lot – but in contrast to the tone of the other apes, yeah, he lightens this really heavy story. It’s a story of revenge, and battling primal instincts that we all have. Then there’s this character who is tagging along that doesn’t want to go be a part of this story, but because there are other apes he’s so excited. This is a chimp that’s lived on his own for a long time, and now he’s found new friends, and I think there’s something really childlike and beautiful in that.
How did movement coach Terry Notary help you prepare?
The first time we started talking it was extremely philosophical – I started getting cold sweats! I thought, “Oh my god, I’m back in acting school, doing some crazy exercise for a teacher!” You start from the inside. So we spent an hour just sitting in a chair and breathing, talking about weight and strength. When you imitate a chimp you really have to become an ape. Once I got that on an intellectual level we really honed in on his movement. I watched every YouTube video out there of chimps! I was fascinated with a chimp sitting on a rock doing nothing: how is that living creature different than me sitting on a rock? It’s totally different, but how? And I developed this rocking back and forth which I saw on videos, which worked with his being excited around others. It was very interesting.