With the DAWN of their burgeoning civilization, the apes flourished in the absence of human contact … until they were discovered by a small band of the desparate survivors striving to establish a new colony of their own. The colonists and apes struggled to coexist. But their fragile peace was shattered by Koba, an ape who could not resist taking revenge on his former captors. Caesar, leader of the apes, attempted to restore order. But there was no turning back from the brutal fighting that has already begun.
The embattled colonists sent out frantic distress calls for help, unsure if anyone was even out there to hear them. The signal was received 800 miles north at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, where hundreds of soldiers hade taken refuge after the viral apocalypse. These men and women were all that remained of the US Armed Services. Responding to the call, a hardened fighting division, led by a decorated Colonel of the Special Forces, was sent down to join the battle. Caesar and the apes retreated to the woods, but the human forces pursued, determined to destroy the apes once and fall. For two years, the soldiers have been searching in vain for Caesar, who is rumored to be commanding his apes from a base, hidden deep in the woods.
The WAR rages on …
Know you know the films continuing story, and here are some behind the scenes clips and interviews of the upcoming part 3 of the series.
About the Production
In War For The Planet Of The Apes, the third and climactic chapter of the critically acclaimed blockbuster trilogy, director Matt Reeves and an all-star cast unleash the rapidly evolving simians into a world boiling over with divisions and rage as the ape vs. human battle for control of the world careens towards the ultimate winner-takes-all decision. In a flurry of mythic filmmaking, audiences will witness the pivotal moment that determines the fate of human civilization forever –and be immersed in the ape leader Caesar’s emotional quest to lead his young society to a new home, even as a war between his belief in family and honor versus the lure of a vengeful reckoning churns within his soul.
At heart, this is the story of both a military and emotional last stand. As peace between species has collapsed — and a renegade band of human soldiers led by an imperious Colonel makes a final, all-out attack — Caesar is hit with an unimaginable personal loss and a dark line inside his psyche is crossed. Now, he is wrestling with merciless impulses and roiling doubts about his own ability to inspire the apes towards freedom. But if the apes are to survive the coming conflict, Caesar must lead. In a time when empathy and compassion have nearly vanished both in the world and his heart, Caesar searches for the grit, sense of fellowship and striving vision to lead the apes towards a future of hope.
Breathless action, big ideas and potent storytelling combine as War For the Planet of the Apes pushes the series into new realms of legend-building as it explores the values that forge a civilization. It all comes to life driven by the most complex and intense performance by Andy Serkis yet as the majestic Caesar, and groundbreaking visual effects from Weta Digital. Also returning to the series is Karin Konoval as Caesar’s trusted advisor, Maurice, Terry Notary as Caesar’s right-hand man, Rocket, as well as Judy Greer as Caesar’s wife Cornelia and Toby Kebbell as Koba.
Unforgettable new characters include two-time Oscar® nominee Woody Harrelson as the Colonel, the brash human soldier who believes only an apocalyptic war can salvage the last vestiges of humankind; Steve Zahn as Bad Ape, a lonely chimp who brings heart and humor to the apes in their darkest hour; Amiah Miller as Nova, the human child who becomes an unexpected link between the apes and humanity; Aleks Paunovic as Winter, the stunning but anxious white gorilla; Michael Adamthwaite as Caesar’s gorilla lieutenant, Luca, who forges a bond with Nova; and Ty Olsson as Rex, a turncoat gorilla who works for the Colonel as his “donkey.” Featuring more apes than ever, including a dozen key characters, as the tide turns against homo sapiens, the film also for the very first time brings performance capture action into the rugged, frozen mountains and a world of snow – all captured in spectacular 65mm under the masterful eye of cinematographer Michael Seresin and set to a stirring score by Oscar® winner Michael Giacchino.
For Reeves, who returns to the franchise to take the next step after Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, the large-scale ambition of the third film was clear: to follow the increasingly upright and capable – but also haunted and questioning — apes not only into the spectacle of total warfare but into stirring psychological territory as Caesar fights to hold onto his own most humane instincts.
More than ever, Reeves realized, the trajectory of the apes mirrors the archetypal myths of humanity. “As this story starts, there is no more peace with humans, which thrusts Caesar into a deeply emotional, universal kind of conflict,” Reeves describes. “Caesar has always been unique in that he is part ape, part human, yet neither one fully. The hope has been that he might be able to bridge the two societies, but now it is clear that this will not come to pass. What’s so exciting is that in exploring Caesar’s internal dilemmas at this profound moment it becomes a chance to look at a battle we all know: the war between our intelligence, our empathy and our instinctiveness, and how that forms what defines our humanity. At the same time as this is a very dark journey, it is also a story with so much spirit in it.”
Producer Peter Chernin, who has been instrumental to the Apes legacy from the very inception of the trilogy, says: “From the beginning, we always viewed this as a three-part story that began with the birth of Caesar, saw him become an innocent hero as head of the apes and then a smart, compassionate leader only to now be tested, grow and become even more heroic. In a world in which intelligent apes are born, we knew it would inevitably lead to this ultimate conflict with humans. We’ve come to a remarkable place in the story. It’s the apotheosis of Caesar’s journey – and as you see him struggle, you see his soul. That was always what we wanted to do with this series: to explore the full panoply in way that inspires us and helps us think about what it means to be human.”
Sums ups producer Dylan Clark, who also produces along Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver: “War is part road movie, part war story, part Western and an epic adventure – but at the heart of it all is an emotional exploration of a leader we love. We witness Caesar wrestling with dark demons but he also comes across new signs of light. It may be both the darkest and most hopeful part of the apes’ story.”
A LEADER TESTED: THE SCREENPLAY
At the core of The War for The Planet of the Apes is the story not only of the coming of the decisive battle between the rapidly rising apes and desperately declining humans but also of a dark night of the soul for the apes’ noble leader, Caesar. He now faces his most perilous, legend-making moment, and an urgent moral dilemma, as he begins to mistrust his ape principles and any hope for peace with a human species that has wounded him in the deepest of ways. As the terror of war spreads to the heart of his own family, this is a Caesar at war with humans, but also with himself, one whose burning anger at the suffering he has seen must give way to a new vision if he is to take his kind forward and out of chaos.
“We put Caesar to the ultimate test in this film,” says Mark Bomback, who co-wrote the screenplay with Reeves. “Unfortunately for Caesar, that test is a harrowing one. The apes are in trouble and he understands they are going to have to really earn their spot as the dominant species on the planet.”
Adds Reeves: “Caesar is tested in ways we found thrilling and epic and really open the movie up. The scale of this movie is huge. As the apes leave Muir Woods, they encounter a larger world.”
As inspiration for the film’s panoramic scale and mythic atmosphere, Reeves re-watched many of cinema’s most sweeping, action-packed spectacles, from Kurosawa’s Samurai epics to Clint Eastwood Westerns — films with which War shares a mix-mastering of conflict and comedy with themes of perseverance, sacrifice, allegiance, wilderness, heroism and questing through moral grey zones in times of dizzying uncertainty. “Part of the thrill of making these films is the opportunity to bring new technology and new forms of cinema to classical myths, creating something unique for these times,” Reeves explains.
The classic interplay of light and dark elements, of loyalty tested and courage found all come out in Caesar’s epic journey, in which he descends into the depths of anguish as he is forced to weigh his personal dream of revenge for his own kin against the plight of his entire species facing possible defeat.
“In this third story, we wanted to take Caesar to the one place we never thought he could go,” explains Bomback. “It’s totally surprising because no one would think Caesar was capable of anything approaching hatred or fully breaking ranks with humanity. But we now have him in a place where he can, for the first time, understand the hatred that he saw in Koba, the former lab chimp. It’s terrifying for everyone around him, because Caesar has always been the moral center of the group. And if Caesar spins out of control morally, what happens to the entire society? That is ultimately what the movie is about.”
Reeves notes that the screenplay pushed Bomback and himself to dive deep into Caesar’s interior psyche as never before – but at the same time, to expand the story vastly outwards into a thundering showdown with the frantic humans determined to eliminate the apes before it is too late. The result is a screen-filling display of technical majesty that is also a testament to simple goodness.
“At this momentous juncture, Caesar is descending into a different journey than any before because he is battling himself,” describes Reeves. “But even as the story brings us more inside Caesar on the most intimate emotional level, we also felt this film had to be huge, on a magnitude unlike any of the previous films, because this is both a wartime epic and a story of migration.”
As the final chapter of the trilogy, it is also the endpoint of a sprawling story that began with the Simian virus that rendered apes intelligent only to lead to an interspecies conflict that can only have one winner. Bomback points out, “What we’re witnessing in War isn’t simply Caesar’s story; it’s the dawn of a civilization. What you see happening now will be part of a future mythology all the apes will know for all time, as Caesar attempts to deliver his people to a new Promised Land.”
The titanic scale took cast and crew into new territory of every kind – pushing them on tech, design and to the borderlands of compassion for another species. Much as Rise of the Planet of the Apes was a breakthrough that suggested the potential for this kind of filmmaking, War demonstrates how far its come.
“This has been an evolutionary process,” notes Peter Chernin. “We had insane concerns on the first movie because we’d never even seen anything like this kind of performance capture, but then we started seeing these revelatory performances that were so believable, so emotionally true. Everything changed when we finished the first movie. Knowing we were capable of creating realistic, sentient apes now we could take them deeper. One of the liberating things about this franchise is that we can explore emotional storytelling in new ways because we are creating our own vision of a society that has never existed but is intended to be real, not fantastical, and that has been great fun.”
For Chernin, Reeves has been essential to propelling the franchise forward. “The level of action, effects, acting and overall scale was a quantum leap for Matt on this film, but this time, he had the time and space to plan out the movie he envisioned. There are action sequences on this film as phenomenal as any I’ve seen, but most importantly, Matt was utterly obsessed with the emotional side of this movie, and making this journey of apes into what is really a very humanistic story.”
“This film gives audiences more spectacle, more intensity, more humor and takes them on the biggest journey of the three movies,” concludes Dylan Clark. “The power and poignancy Matt and Mark brought to the script inspired us to take things even further than ever before.”
EVOLUTION AND MYTH: ANDY SERKIS as CAESAR
In War For the Planet of the Apes, Caesar — the king of the new breed of primates who have come in a rapid-fire way to develop the power to think, speak and see the world in complex, emotional terms – takes on the fableistic journey of a true leader who must go through a crucible to be able to help his people. As Dawn of The Planet of the Apes ended, Caesar was already on a precipice. He had broken his most fundamental moral tenet and killed another ape, his own very dear friend Koba, thrusting him into an abyss.
Now two years have passed, but the questions Koba’s death raised only haunt Caesar more, especially when the insufferable heartbreak of war is visited upon his own family. With the ape community decimated by humans, and an increasing number of defectors, ape turncoats, going over to the human side, Caesar sees that things have come to a tipping point. If there is to be no peace with humans or the apes who do their bidding, where do you draw the lines as to how far to go? And if there is a limit, can Caesar find it within himself now that he is in such acute emotional turmoil?
Reprising the role for which he has drawn global acclaim, Andy Serkis takes the regal Caesar into the riskiest, most psychologically nuanced zones we have seen. Serkis is renown also for bringing another digital character, Gollum, to life in the Lord of the Rings series – but never rested on those laurels.
He says that taking Caesar into a personal maelstrom – through pain and fire and surprise meetings to find his gravitas and nobility as a leader — in this film “has been the most rewarding acting challenge in my life.” Serkis adds: “To be able to play such a complex and complete character as Caesar all the way from infancy to this most profound juncture in his life as a leader has been incredible.”
For Matt Reeves, Serkis brings something special in this momentous juncture of Caesar’s story. “Andy is simply one of the best, most soulful actors I have ever worked with,” says the director. “In this film he went to emotional extremes that were deeper and more painful than in the previous two, and it was astonishing to watch how far he pushed himself. Our working relationship is one of the joys of my life.”
War finds Caesar, sharp, measured and principled as he is, at a loss for moral footing. He hungers for a personal reckoning, yet knows the other apes still look to him as their last chance to find a life of safety and freedom. As Serkis approached the role, he took it as a personal challenge to bring a visceral, perhaps one might even say “human” truth to a character who is a mysterious other, and yet who simultaneously embodies predicaments to which human audiences can deeply relate, no matter Caesar’s physical form.
He saw his first task as revealing the deep vulnerability welling up beneath Caesar’s strong, primate musculature. “As War begins, the ape community is broken up,” explains Serkis. “Caesar is still trying to keep it together, but he bears the deep, painful burdens of a leader struggling to galvanize a divided people. Caesar has always been torn between the ape and human worlds. He does not want to see the destruction of either species. But he’s an ape and their survival is clearly on the line.”
Then, Caesar experiences the worst moment of his tumultuous life, and comes to the grim conclusion that human and apes will never be able to live together. Serkis continues: “It is such a monumental journey that Caesar goes on from that moment. He steps over a line into a world of revenge from which he seemingly cannot extricate himself. Against every fiber in his body, he falls into a place of darkness and rage, a place he fears may be inescapable. After all he has seen, he has become sadder but also more desensitized – and he almost loses the better part of himself. Once, Caesar was an ape who would rather destroy guns than use them. But suddenly he starts to reconcile himself to the idea of using any means necessary to vanquish the humans, driven by his personal vendetta against the Colonel.”
As the apes have continued their rapid advancement from speechless animals to higher intelligence, each film has taken Serkis further in his explorations of Caesar’s expanding abilities – and War becomes the apex. Caesar’s increasing eloquence allows Serkis to etch more and more shadings into his persona.
“In the first film, there was dawning of language and it was about exploring how the apes dealt with the beginning of their evolution. In the second film, I began to think of Caesar more as a human and he started to use more intricate linguistics, expressing himself intellectually,” Serkis in explains. “Now, Caesar can speak fluently which changes how he approaches things, how he thinks of himself and others.”
He continues: “It has really been amazing to be able to climb inside the mind of a being who is transforming on every single level. Physically in this film, Caesar is much more upright and he uses his hands a lot more now, so he’s more like a human being in ape skin. But as his intelligence and abilities have grown, the things he feels and remembers have become more daunting to him.”
As the filmmakers watched Serkis dissolve his own persona into that of Caesar in his most troubled times, they were awed by just how many conflicting feelings of torment and yearning he was able to evoke on a gut level.
Observes Chernin: “Andy is so much the heart and soul of this franchise. He knew from the start there was the danger of the apes being campy, so when he showed up on day one he brought a distinct level of seriousness. He’s never stopped studying ape behavior and facial expressions, so now he’s able to imbue level of majesty to Caesar that is the height of the three movies. With a performance that is really almost Shakespearean, Andy is a large part of creating the emotional power of the film.”
“This is the most challenging and affecting work Andy has done,” adds Clark. “Through his exceptional skill, he has created Caesar as a character who feels mythological yet poignant.”
Woody Harrelson, who as The Colonel duels with Caesar on multiple levels, was awestruck by Serkis. “Andy’s one of the most gifted actors I’ve run into,” he comments. “It blew my mind to see how much sheer power he’s able to convey without a word. I don’t think I’ve ever encountered that kind of extremity of ability to impart emotion through one’s eyes. As an actor, I don’t even know who to compare him to … he’s that original. He was so moving sometime I’d break into applause at the end of the take.”
Serkis observes all of this was possible for him only because Reeves created an environment in which understanding Caesar’s inner emotions was given as high a priority as bringing him to life visually.
“Matt’s passion for this story is bottomless,” Serkis elaborates. “He has an incredible eye for using the camera – but the key is he never sacrifices performance. It’s all about getting to true emotions at every single moment. Even in the most unforgiving environment, he’s looking for the heart of these characters.”
Perhaps what has inspired Serkis most in his creation of Caesar is the idea that, like a majestic animal in a fable, he is a creation who mirrors back the essence of humanity. That seemed especially true in War, as Caesar journeys through a time of global conflict that looks like many moments from human history, but with the intriguing difference of being seen through the revealing POV of once-wild animals.
“I think perhaps the playing out of our most fundamental human struggles through the eyes of apes allows the audience to connect to human emotions on a more visceral level,” he comments. “We know the Great Apes are our closest cousins — they are 97 per cent the same as us – and yet we perceive this world of difference. Perhaps, by giving them a voice and seeing the world through their different eyes, we can stand outside ourselves and really see ourselves under the microscope as we haven’t before.”
HUMANITY’S LAST WARRIOR: WOODY HARRELSON as THE COLONEL
He may be a last, fiercely desperate hope for humankind, but Colonel J. Wesley McCullough is the apes’ most feared nemesis. An almost mythically toughened, merciless warrior, the renegade Colonel unapologetically believes he and his splinter group of human soldiers are justified in going to any deadly lengths to preserve what is left of the human race and end the ascension of the apes while they still can.
Part of what drives the Colonel is his foreboding realization that as the apes are evolving, the Simian Virus is having the opposite effect on humans – they are devolving, losing speech, an unthinkable situation for the species that once ruled the world. That’s why he has one driving mission: to remove the apes’ leader from power. And the more he gets to know the impressive inner fiber and deep thinking of Caesar, the more he fears the human race’s days are numbered if the apes are not stopped now.
Explains Matt Reeves: “Caesar has taken on an aura of legend and mystery among both humans and apes – and The Colonel comes to believe that if the humans can only find and disempower Caesar, the apes will topple, giving humanity a chance to recover.”
Adds co-writer Mark Bomback: “We set the bar high for the Colonel, because we wanted him to be as compelling as any ape in the film. He has created a bit of a cult around himself and taken the notion of survival at any cost to a dangerous place. The Colonel’s philosophy is that because these humans have the responsibility to save the human race on their shoulders, it excuses almost any action.”
To take on the role, the filmmakers knew they needed an actor of out-sized charisma, one who could stand up to the majesty of the apes with a volatile mixture of human determination and desperation. They turned to one of the most versatile leading men of our times: two-time Academy Award® nominee Woody Harrelson, who will also be seen in very different performances in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and The Glass Castle this year.
“Woody is such an incredibly smart, inventive and insightful actor,” describes Reeves. “It was important to both of us to humanize the Colonel as much as possible, to bring as much understanding to his character’s extreme actions as we could. Our conversations deepened the Colonel, and his ideas were just so good, Mark and I wrote them right into the script.”
Harrelson took a larger-than-life approach to the Colonel. “The Colonel is a guy who really only thinks in militant terms. War is what he understands,” Harrelson describes. “Having seen that apes are taking over the world in the wake of the Simian Flu, he feels it’s his duty as a human being with those skills to do all that he can to save humanity.”
Says Peter Chernin: “The way Woody plays the Colonel, you don’t see him as a villain but as a man who believes he’s fighting a holy war to save humanity. You see that he admires Caesar, respects him deeply and that like Caesar, he too is looking into the darkness of his soul.”
Though the Colonel is the brutal enemy of the apes, Harrelson notes that as in any war, how you see him all depends on which side you are on. For some humans witnessing the destruction of their civilization, the Colonel is the personification of hope. Explains Harrelson, “You could easily look at the Colonel as a bad guy in the film, but I look at him as a guy who feels called upon to do something great and essential in this darkest time that humans have found themselves in.”
Reeves’ wholesale commitment to the project was a constant spark for Harrelson. “Matt has such extraordinary vision, and he’s tireless. He will not let up on something until he feels he has it right. My hat was off to him every day because I love his pursuit of excellence.”
Just as Harrelson was moved by Serkis’s performance, Serkis was motivated by Harrelson’s take on the Colonel. “One of the greatest pleasures of this film for me was working with Woody,” comments Serkis. “We became very close. He is a totally honest human being and therefore a very authentic actor — he lives and breathes his own creed and it’s intoxicating. We have some very big, emotional scenes together, scenes in which we have to really play off each other, and I felt that Woody was so impressive.”
Serkis goes on: “Woody and I really got in each other’s heads, which we had to do for these characters pitted against one another. Caesar and the Colonel both have some insight into the other despite the fact that they are the heads of species which are going to clash terribly. There is this bizarre respect between them that Woody also understood. Woody helped me find Caesar’s ambivalence because his Colonel is not the straightforward villain he might have been. Woody brings so much honest emotion that he creates someone very beguiling in the Colonel, and Caesar has to reckon with what they share.”
Among the acolytes of the Colonel, ready to do anything to protect the human race, is his loyal crossbow-toting soldier Preacher. Taking the key role is Gabriel Chavarria who came to the fore in the Hulu series East Los High. Chavarria could understand why Preacher remains dedicated to the Colonel, no matter how chaotic and cult-like the atmosphere around him. “Preacher follows the Colonel because in this post-apocalyptic time, the Colonel is the only human left with a vision of getting through this situation,” he says. “But Caesar has so much humanity to him that it’s confusing. Preacher remains loyal to the Colonel, but he’s torn, because Caesar is no ordinary ape and perhaps they ultimately want the same thing.”
THE LOST CHILD: AMIAH MILLER as NOVA
One of the most surprising characters in War For The Planet of the Apes is not an ape or a man … but a little girl with breathtaking courage. This is the mute, virus-ravaged human child who comes to be known as Nova – and becomes an essential part of the apes’ journey to their new home.
The enchanted quality of Nova did not escape Reeves and Bomback. Bomback says, “Here is a little, seemingly orphaned girl living with apes – Matt and I immediately thought she seemed like a character out of a fairytale. From Goldilocks to Little Red Riding Hood, there’s a whole tradition of stories about little girls in the woods with dangerous animals who nevertheless become their protectors. That’s part of the inspiration for Nova. And the name Nova of course is a bit of an Easter egg from the original film.”
“One of the beautiful things about Nova is that even in this divided world, you see there are apes and humans who are able to form deep emotional relationships,” says Peter Chernin. “In that moment when Caesar is in the darkest place, when he wants to hate all humans, Nova touches him in a way no one else can. In Nova, we’re also seeing the growth of the Simian Virus and what survival means to humans.”
Taking the part, an especially demanding and complex one for a child actor, is 12 year-old Amiah Miller in her first major feature. Reeves describes how Miller won the role: “Amiah is such an intuitive young actor. When she came in to audition we threw away the script and I just asked her to relate to the apes. It was clear right then that she was special and had a talent way beyond her years. She and the actors became like a family. She has a bright future ahead of her, I can’t wait to see what she does.”
Because Nova develops a strong bond with the orangutan Maurice, who insists on bringing her on the apes’ long journey, Miller spent a month working with Karin Konoval, who plays Maurice. “Amiah and I needed to have a very strong, very real connection,” says Konoval. “So Amiah and I actually got to know each other wordlessly as Maurice and Nova before we even had any conversations. Luckily, our connection was immediate and organic and it only grew from there. It was absolutely magic that the filmmakers gave us that opportunity to develop this true bond.”
Says Dylan Clark: “Matt, our casting director Deb Zane and I were all in agreement that there was only one young actor to bring in for the role of Nova and it was Amiah.”
THE ESCAPED: STEVE ZAHN as BAD APE
Also new to the story is a character who embodies the massively fluctuating reality for apes across the globe as the Simian Virus spreads: an intelligent chimp and zoo escapee who has been trying to make his way through a changing world, acquiring rudimentary language on his own. This is the self-described Bad Ape, portrayed with comic poignancy by Steve Zahn (Dallas Buyer’s Club, Rescue Dawn.)
Says Matt Reeves: “Bad Ape is a really important character who imparts the largeness of the story. He’s very funny – but also through him you realize the virus has spread to many others, and a whole world of intelligent apes is out there, a world that’s on a trajectory to the one you see in the original Planet of the Apes from 1968. As a character, Bad Ape is one of our favorites.”
“Writing Bad Ape was easily the most fun we’ve had,” adds Mark Bomback. “We often had to stop ourselves from going too far with him because he’s such a cool character, he could easily have eaten the entire script. But we thought it important to show there are other apes out there with their own stories.”
When Zahn stepped into the role, Bad Ape became an even richer personality, as Zahn ran away with the role. “I have been such a fan of Steve’s work, I always find him to be so human and funny and surprising. What I wasn’t quite prepared for is just how heartbreaking he can be as an actor,” says Reeves. “He brought so much life and humor to Bad Ape, but even more importantly, incredible emotion and depth. He has such beautiful sensitivity, and he is truly the heart of Bad Ape.”
Zahn loved creating a character who emerges from his shell once he discovers the nascent ape society. “When we meet him, it’s been years since Bad Ape has seen any of his own kind,” Zahn explains. “He’s been living in solitude, kind of like a mountain man. He has the power of speech because he learned it from his zoo handlers — and hence his name, Bad Ape. He couldn’t be more the opposite of that, but he’s Bad Ape because he was mischievous at the zoo. ‘Bad ape, bad ape’ they would say. So it stuck.”
War For The Planet Of The Apes marks Zahn’s first performance capture role, and he took to the form immediately. “I thought it would feel more technical, but I actually found it felt very theatrical,” he explains. “It reminded me of theater. Playing Bad Ape is a kind of heightened reality, which has to come from both a physical and emotional place together.”
CAESARS’S CONSCIENCE: KARIN KONOVAL as MAURICE and TERRY NOTARY as ROCKET
As Caesar begins to spin off his moral course, the apes closest to him try to keep their faith in him as a leader. This is especially true of Maurice, who attempts to reawaken in Caesar the just and righteous ape he knows lies within. Reprising the role of the steadfast orangutan for a third time is Karin Konoval.
The depth of ape knowledge she now brings to Maurice is part of what makes the character so compellingly true to life. “Karin is incredible,” says Matt Reeves. “Her ability to bring authentic life to Maurice is just amazing. She has a very spiritual connection to orangutans that she has developed over these three films, and her instincts just constantly amazed me.”
Konoval has come to feel a deep respect for Maurice, even though the character requires her to leap both into another gender and another species. She says, “Orangutans have a very strong integrity for who they are and I feel that is who Maurice is at heart. He’s very observant, and if he does something, he means it. I think he is Caesar’s conscience. He’s been his advisor for a long time and his commitment and devotion to Caesar are complete.”
Though she is no stranger to playing Maurice, Konoval has continued to plunge ever deeper into her discovery of the character. In preparation for War, she spent time with Towan, possibly the world’s oldest living male orangutan, at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle. An ape who loved to paint, he gave her a glimpse of how extraordinary and complex non-human primates already are in their private worlds. Sadly, Towan died days after War For The Planet Of The Apes finished filming.
Konoval recalls what he taught her: “He gave me the inner Maurice,” she says. “I could never say thank you enough to Towan. The chance to observe orangutans and get to know them and some of the orangutan conservation community has been one of the most glorious gifts I’ve ever been given. Towan’s name translates as ‘Master’ and he was that. When he looked into you, there was nothing that could compare to that. And that is what inspires me to find the soul of Maurice.”
In War, Maurice’s soul is pulled in an unexpected direction when he becomes attached to the orphaned human child, Nova, connecting with her beyond words. “I’ve had such a great time as a human getting to know orangutans, it was wonderful to flip that around and portray an orangutan forming a close relationship with a human,” Konoval muses. “Playing Maurice has been an increasingly rich journey.”
Andy Serkis notes that Konoval’s portrait of Maurice has been a spark for how he plays Caesar. “Karin puts all her heart and soul into Maurice – and she brings such in-depth knowledge of ape behavior that it feels so authentic,” he observes. “For her, it’s not about copying an animal, it’s about understanding their inner world, and you realize that is what makes it come alive.”
Actor and accomplished choreographer Terry Notary also returns as Caesar’s right hand man, Rocket, as well as serving as the choreographic trainer for the entire primate cast. Reeves calls Notary “The ape Zen master.” The director continues: “He approaches his work with such joy and passion, it is infectious. Not only has he brought Rocket to beautiful life, but he plays countless apes in the film, and has trained all the cast to move and be as apes. He is a true artist.”
Says Notary of Rocket: “He will always be Caesar’s confidante and best friend. But in this film, I feel he is finding his true purpose in life, which is to keep Caesar safe. Rocket has been through what Caesar is going through in this film and he can be there now to see that Caesar makes it through, to protect him while he is lost.”
Rocket also believes in giving Caesar the space to wrestle with his conscience, says Notary. “Rocket knows Caesar’s blind rage is dangerous, but he also knows Caesar needs to go through this in his own way, so Rocket has to balance keeping his distance while making sure Caesar can go on as their leader. It’s a profound and challenging journey for both of them.”
Serkis was bolstered by his rapport with Notary. “Rocket has an incredible arc in this story, becoming Caesar’s deepest soulmate and Caesar trusts him as one does his closest friend.” Says Notary of their collaboration: “The amazing thing about Andy is his ability to let pure emotions well through him without forcing anything at all. I could feel the soul of Caesar come out in so many ways and it fuels you.”
UPPING THE PERFORMANCE CAPTURE BAR
The development of leading-edge performance capture technology – technology that can record even the tiniest nuances of movement, gesture and emotion to animated characters via human actors — has led to the creation of some of motion pictures’ most memorable personalities, including the apes seen in Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.
But the merging of this technology with human performance has not been static, and the bar keeps moving. Andy Serkis believes there’s been a recent breakthrough in how actors approach a performance capture role such as Caesar, one on display in the film and one he is keen to keep expanding.
“Actors are starting to understand that when you do performance capture you’re not simply standing in for the character until the magic is done later on. You’re not representing the character; you have to become the character,” he explains. “In my view, there is no difference at all between playing a role in a performance capture suit and a role in costume and makeup. Absolutely none.”
Serkis recalls that he spoke to Woody Harrelson about how he hoped the two would work together – one actor in performance capture gear, the other not, but both equally plunged into their characters — early on. “An actor facing another actor in a performance capture suit can take a bit of getting used to,” he says. “But once you start communicating, you realize that despite the fact that one of you is wearing a head-mounted camera and dots on his face, we are equally creatures of imagination.”
The fresh challenge for Serkis this time was to express the full pathos of Caesar’s predicament –a very human predicament despite his non-human form. That meant transcending the form to some degree by exposing an even more unvarnished, primal level of emotion than one might as a human character.
“Literally every scene Caesar has in this film has a dark emotional underbelly,” Serkis points out. “The key for me was to go to those dark and frightening places just as you would if you were acting without a motion capture suit on. It’s not about pantomime; if you want to seriously reach into the depths of someone’s psyche, and every one of the actors playing apes has to do that in this film, you have to be willing to bare yourself in a huge way.”
The filmmakers once again turned to the visual effects artists at the New Zealand-based visual effects house Weta Digital. “Working with Dan Lemmon and the artists at Weta is so inspiring,” says Reeves. “They are constantly raising the bar of what is possible, and the results in this film are absolutely a high water mark in visual effects to date.”
Weta Digital has continued to evolve their capture technology over the three films to ensure no matter where the story goes, the performance of the actors onset is always recorded so the animators can see the dynamics at play. “When we shot Rise, performance capture had never before been attempted in an open environment outside a soundstage, and we were the first to shoot in the woods,” Peter Chernin recalls. “Now we’re going to mountaintops and into the snow. People don’t know how extraordinary complex it is. Wet fur is one of the hardest things to do digitally and snow on fur is another level on top of that. What’s been fun is that a huge number of special effects people got into their jobs because of the original Planet of the Apes movie, thought it was done with makeup and costumes, because it was so imaginative – and now they are really pushing the state of the art of CG animation to created images such as ape on horseback in the snow, which is extraordinary.”
“Weta has allowed us to do things that could only exist in pure imagination before,” adds Dylan Clark.
“Weta is the best,” adds co-producer and VFX producer Ryan Stafford, who also worked on the previous Ape films. “They’re the best at characters, they’re the best at fur and they are the best at achieving a creative collaboration with filmmakers.”
Weta’s visual effects supervisor Dan Lemmon, who received Academy Award® nominations for his contributions to both Rise and Dawn, explains that performance capture technology has evolved, much like the apes, since shooting Rise. Limitations are falling by the wayside. Real-time facial animation tools now allow artists to execute complex and precise facial animation decisions in the moment, allowing them to recreate any expression and honor the fidelity of the the actor’s performance – and for hundreds of characters in a scene.
“Rise was the very first time we’d taken performance capture out into environments where it hadn’t previously gone. We learned a lot from that and our rendering technology improved dramatically as a result. All of our fur systems, how we model the way light moves through the scene and other materials have all grown significantly more sophisticated. The level of realism you will see in this film is far higher than any other,” Lemmon states.
Giving Weta another new challenge, War features a dozen key ape characters, more than in the previous films, and they also are speaking with more sophistication. “Convincing facial expressions and lip sync are challenges. To do it for one character is hard enough, but as our cast of has expanded, we’ve had to really expand on what we can do facially, so that you really believe in what you’re seeing,” says Lemmon. “We have made improvements not only in the technology but in the art of it.”
War marks another first for performance capture – the first time it has been used in extreme weather, including falling snow. Lemmon explains the daunting task: “We had to take a process already considered very sensitive and carefully calibrate it into areas with sub-freezing temperatures and snow flurries. It’s exciting, because we’ve opened up the possibility that you can use performance capture anywhere, interacting with any environment and still have full confidence that you’ve captured every nuance an actor is bringing.”
Meanwhile Ryan Stafford was supervising some 50 visual effects personnel – and overseeing a 10-person witness camera unit, an array of 35 to 45 motion capture cameras, as well as an army of data wranglers, surveyors and photographers gathering information on every detail of each of the sets. The surveying alone was a massive job. ““Because we don’t know while shooting what elements might ultimately be created as CG, we have to make sure that every single inch of our sets and locations were surveyed. It takes a huge team to make sure every prop, every set dressing, every pebble on the ground is photographed. We 3-D scanned every inch of the set,” he explains.
Stafford continues: “Then we had a huge bank of computers we called Mission Control, which had a variety of human operators. They are the ones who hit record on all the motion capture, focus the cameras and make sure all the data we get is clean. It was a monumental effort. We had to shoot every shot twice, sometimes four times, then try to fit all of those complexities into a standard shooting day.”
One of the most gratifying successes for the performance capture team came in the scene when Maurice first connects with Nova. Stafford says, “Her interaction with the apes is so delicate it brought a host of complexities – from how her hair interacts with Maurice’s fur to her clothing pressing against his belly. All of that was carefully orchestrated to create something convincing and ultimately very moving.”
APE EFFECTS: ADVANCES IN VFX
Advances in performance capture were just the beginning for Weta, which also pushed into new territory in several areas of digital effects to craft the film’s array of more than 1,400 highly complex effects shots. The team working under senior VFX supervisor Joe Letteri and VFX supervisor Dan Lemmon particularly focused on creating highly realistic interactions between the apes and their environments, from their hidden fortress to the Colonel’s prison. New concepts seen in War include:
• A new organic forest growth software known as Totara: this next-generation simulation tool cleverly emulates nature’s own growth patterns, allowing trees to adapt to the plant life surrounding them and even makes changes to shape and color caused by aging over time –new growth is red, then leaves turn green and naturally brown as they decay. Weta considers this tool to be an early look at the exciting direction organic effects tools will take over the next decade.
• Advanced Fur System: the fur technology used in War surpasses all used previously, bringing new levels of complexity to how digital fur behaves and interacts with the world. The particular need to mix fresh snow with fur drove innovation as the VFX team worked through of how snow sticks to fur, clumps on it, falls off and reacts as the apes walk through snowy environments. The fur grooms also got substantially denser: Caesar alone had nearly a million strands of hair.
• Manuka physLight toolset: this newly-built toolset models with pinpoint accuracy how cameras pick up and respond to light. The result is that the War team was able to light the apes similarly to how a DP would light, with all the same photographic rules applying as those used on the soundstage.
• The CG avalanche: Weta put major research into forging the film’s spectacular avalanche, including studying the physics of fluid dynamics to accurately recreate clouds of snow rocketing down a mountain.
APE CAMP WITH TERRY NOTARY
Before production began, actor and choreographer Terry Notary convened what became affectionately known as Ape Camp, where actors submerse themselves in ape behavior, fine-tuning their movements, rhythms and timing. Veteran cast and newcomers alike had to confront the new reality for the apes – that they are increasingly upright creatures losing their wild form and seeing the world anew.
“The apes keep evolving and as they evolve, the more we have to evolve as actors, bringing in more consciousness, self-awareness and the creation of a culture,” Notary elaborates.
Ape Camp begins, unexpectedly, with 20 minutes of sitting. Notary explains that he thinks morphing human actors into intellectually advanced simians requires a meditative process: “It’s funny, new actors always ask, ‘So what do I do? How do I do it?’ But the first thing is, you don’t do anything. Instead, we undo everything. That’s the key. Through the course of these films, I’ve found it’s not about trying to channel an ape at all. It’s about dropping deeply into yourself, softening and widening your perception, while being really open and vulnerable. I’ve learned by playing Rocket that it’s being the most honest me.”
He goes on: “It’s also important to remember that as human, we’re already of the ape genus, so we really don’t have to do a lot to get there. We just have strip away all the human conditioning. It’s a matter of thinking, ‘OK, what if I just simplify myself and really be honest and primal and open?’”
Notary has done extensive research, watching countless videos of gorillas, chimps and orangutans in the wild and captivity. But he’s convinced that when it comes to moving like an ape, imitation is not the best approach. “The Great Apes are amazing to watch, and it’s a really useful tool – but only so long as you don’t try to mimic them. Mimicry doesn’t feel real. Instead, you look for fundamentals and then riff on those through your character. It is the subtlety that really brings the gravitas to these characters.”
Andy Serkis found Notary’s training invaluable. “Without Terry, apes wouldn’t feel so alive,” he muses. “He teaches you movement skills but more than that he teaches you how to just be and not feel you have to over-show anything.” Steve Zahn adds: “If you pretend you’re an ape, it looks horrible. But if you become the ape in your being, in the most simple way really, it’s remarkable how quickly you transform.”
For newcomer Michael Adamthwaite, who takes over the vital role of Luca the Silverback Gorilla, Ape Camp was like nothing else he’s experienced. “We spent days just working on running. We’d do 360’s, through the creek and over the rocks over and over. The instruction was just do it, don’t think. Be an ape. It really was a privilege to work with Terry and draw from his boundless energy.”
APE ARCHITECTURE: THE DESIGN
As the apes move across California and into the Sierra Mountains, War For The Planet Of The Apes takes the apes into vividly cinematic visual territory. Director Matt Reeves collaborated with a trusted team to craft a thrillingly naturalistic journey through this fabled world, including cinematographer Michael Seresin, production designer James Chinlund and costume designer Melissa Bruning.
To capture the film’s wide sweep and torrents of action in the most extreme environments – reflective all at once of wilderness, fading human civilization and the developing ape aesthetic — Seresin shot in native 3D using the brand new Arriflex 65mm digital format. “The aim was to create a grand epic of wartime visually,” says Reeves. “The imagery Michael captured was just gorgeous.”
Meanwhile, Chinlund set out on an adventure of his own, erecting some of the most intricate sets he’s designed, including the imposingly massive Tower Rock prison, a hidden ape fortress and the entrancingly icebound ski lodge. “James created a very strong look for this film that I would call grounded sci-fi. It’s not simple to imagine a post-apocalyptic United States where an ape society is now creating infrastructure, but James has been up to this remarkable task,” says Dylan Clark.
Chinlund notes that this film also presented him with the greatest number of unique sets. “Matt was really excited about developing a road movie feel,” he says. “So we had to figure out how to provide as many different looks as we possibly could – from ocean to mountains to the desert — while building the arc of the apes’ journey. Bringing the apes into different kinds of nature is something we’ve been excited about from the beginning and we certainly got to expand on that here.”
There was also ample opportunity to explore the apes’ distinctive form of architecture. “The apes have been evolving their own building system, which is designed around tripods,” Chinlund elaborates, “and you get to see more of that in this film.”
Chinlund also took great satisfaction in creating the apes’ current fortress, designed to protect against siege attacks, which he and his team built on a wooded hillside at the Lafarge gravel mine in Coquitlam, near Vancouver. “It was really exciting to work out what their fortress would look like. We used an aggressive buttress that allows for maximum defense,” says the designer. Later, the fortress was enhanced with intensive CG work, creating one of the film’s most complex hybrid sets to date.
The quest to create one of the film’s biggest, most unsettling sets — the harrowing Tower Rock prison, a refurbished military installation overseen in ruthless fashion by the Colonel – was an epic adventure of its own. The team devoted a full 5 months to crafting and constructing the set on a lot near the Fraser River in Richmond, just outside Vancouver. “The Tower Rock prison set was extraordinary to see,” says Andy Serkis. “Walking onto it that first day – with all its immensity and forebodingness – it was dismal as hell. It was just fantastic for the story but it was a bit brutal to work on that set. We were there for about 40 days and it definitely made you feel a bit broken and desperate, as it was intended.”
Chinlund concurs that the prison was created to be grim and grimy, but he also worked to make it compelling. “Prison is a tough world in which to find texture and visual excitement,” he observes. “But we wanted to deliver something with a really captivating presence. We also designed it to give Michael Seresin and the shooting crew lots of creative options to move the camera and find intriguing angles.”
Contrasting with the bleak prison is the mountain ski lodge that reveals within a dazzling ice palace, which gave the design team the opportunity to create something luminous and magical in the midst of war. The set was painstakingly constructed at Mammoth Studios near Vancouver.
“The lodge set was incredibly important to Matt,” explains Chinlund. “He was very drawn to the idea of seeing them inside a frozen ice palace. I always try to incorporate how the apes move, so I designed the lodge as more of a vertical space. Being able to conceive sets on a vertical as opposed to horizontal plane is such an unusual situation it inspired a lot of creativity. I loved playing with that idea and the idea of them clinging to the edge of this cliff, while this beautiful winter landscape spills away from them.”
DRESSING FOR THE POST-APOCALYPSE: COSTUMES
For costume designer Melissa Bruning, who also designed Dawn’s costumes, War For The Planet of the Apes presented rare challenges – from working with the apes to outfitting a massive human army and bringing fairytale-like, fantastical elements to a searing wartime epoch.
Dressing the Colonel and his soldiers gave Bruning some fascinating areas to explore, and got her thinking about how much humans have been through since the Simian Virus first started spreading across the globe. “I was thinking about the idea that any military uniforms seen in the film would have been manufactured in 2012, at the last moment human society was still intact. So the Colonels, Majors and Sergeants are in newer camo versus the privates who wear the pattern being phased out at that point. The Colonel is in what they call in the military MultiCam [a 7-color, multi-environment camouflage patter that was used in the Afghanistan War] and Preacher is in digicam [a pixelated camouflage pattern that is no longer used]. The average person may not know, but if you’re in the military, you know it’s accurate.”
A favorite design for Bruning in War is Nova. “There was no map of how to do Nova,” recalls Bruning. “Matt told me that he felt she was a real ray of hope, so I immediately thought of her as ethereal and a little magical — this tiny human whose won the heart of apes. Matt loved the idea of evoking a modern fairytale, so we tried to bring a bit of fantasy into this very real, emotional world.”
After poring through research, Bruning showed Reeves a cavalcade of female fairytale characters, then created her own modern spin on their shapes. She describes, “Nova has knickers and a skirt reminiscent of the Dust Bowl. She has a hoodie, but it’s made with a nubby fabric that looks sort of like an old stuffed animal. Her red boots add that one twist – she is all light and ethereal, and then you have red boots to ground her. She isn’t from any one period, so she has a timeless quality.”
Once principal photography was completed, the epic nature of the production became an equally epic editing process, transforming what had been shot into a taut braid of action, emotion and mythic themes. Editors William Hoy and Stan Salfas, who also edited Dawn, worked closely with Reeves.
“Matt was looking for the most intimate, emotional moments that make the audience connect to these characters, both human and ape. It was all about the balance,” says Dylan Clark. “Matt’s editors worked tirelessly to carve out specificity to these characters while always being focused on building tension and surprise.”
One of the film’s finishing touches is one of its most potent storytelling tools: Michael Giacchino’s score, which veers from the delicate to the lyrical to the colossal, through scenes of sparse dialogue. “The nature of the story meant the score had to really propel the action and emotion so the music was very important,” says Chernin. “Michael and Matt have a deep creative relationship and Michael has a remarkable understanding of the apes’ world and how to heighten the emotions of this journey.”
For Reeves, the film that resulted is one that, no matter what becomes of humankind or apekind, speaks to the basic ideals of humanity – humanity not in the sense of being human-related but in the sense of seeking the most inspirational qualities of wisdom and benevolence.
“The wonder of these films is that they give us a chance to explore human nature at its core, but in a way that can be exciting and different,” Reeves concludes.
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ABOUT THE CAST
ANDY SERKIS (Caesar) is an award-winning actor who has earned acclaim from both critics and audiences for his work in a range of memorable roles. He gained legions of fans around the globe for his performance as ‘Gollum’ in the Academy Award®-winning The Lord of the Rings trilogy, directed by Peter Jackson. Serkis won an Empire Award for his role, in addition to sharing in several “Outstanding Ensemble Cast” Awards, including a Screen Actors Guild Award®. Reuniting with Jackson, he played two roles in the director’s epic retelling of King Kong, taking performance capture to another level as the title character of Kong, and also appearing as Lumpy, the ship’s cook.
Serkis is currently in post-production on his directorial debut, Breathe, which brings to the life the inspiring true love story between Robin Cavendish (Andrew Garfield) and his wife Diana (Claire Foy), an adventurous couple who refuse to give up in the face of a devastating disease. The film is schedule for an October 13th release in the United States. In addition, Serkis is in post-production on Jungle Book: Origins, an adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s “The Jungle Book” for Warner Bros, in which he serves as director, producer and actor (in the role of “Baloo”).
His performance as ‘Caesar’ in 2011’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes received acclaim from both journalists and audiences worldwide, earning him a Critics Choice Award nomination for “Best Supporting Actor” from the Broadcast Film Critics Association. He reprised the role in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes for which he won an Empire Award as “Best Actor”.
Most recently, Serkis appeared as ‘Supreme Leader Snoke’ in Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens and he will also reprise the role in the next installment of the Star Wars Saga in Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
He served as 2nd Unit Director on Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit trilogy (most recently, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies) and reprised the role of ‘Gollum’ in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.
In October 2012, Serkis announced the acquisition of two projects that will be produced by his London-based performance capture studio, The Imaginarium: The Bone Season, based on the first in a series of books by Samantha Shannon, and a re-telling of George Orwell’s “Animal Farm,” which Serkis will direct. 20th Century Fox-based Chernin Entertainment will co-produce the adaptation of The Bone Season with The Imaginarium.
Other recent credits include a starring role as Captain Haddock alongside Jamie Bell’s ‘Tintin’ in The Adventures of Tintin, from director Steven Spielberg and producers Spielberg, Peter Jackson and Kathleen Kennedy, and co-starring roles in Death of a Superhero and Brighton Rock.
In 2010, Serkis received critical acclaim and accolades for his portrayal of punk-rock legend ‘Ian Dury’ in the film Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll for director Mat Whitecross. The role earned Serkis a BAFTA nomination for “Best Actor.” He also played 19th century grave robber William Hare, opposite Simon Pegg’s William Burke, in John Landis’ recent black comedy Burke & Hare.
On the small screen, Serkis appeared in the BBC miniseries Little Dorrit, based on Charles Dickens’ classic tale, which garnered him a 2009 Emmy nomination for “Best Supporting Actor”. He also starred as Nobel Prize-winning physicist Albert Einstein in the BBC/HBO production of Einstein and Eddington.
Serkis previously earned Golden Globe and BAFTA TV Award nominations for his performance as Ian Brady in HBO’s Longford. He also garnered acclaim for the role of Bill Sikes in the PBS presentation of Oliver Twist. British television audiences also know him for a wide range of roles in telefilms, miniseries and series.
Serkis’s feature film credits include Christopher Nolan’s acclaimed drama The Prestige; the comedy 13 Going on 30, with Jennifer Garner; and the indie films The Cottage, Extraordinary Rendition and Sugarhouse. He also lent his voice to the animated feature Flushed Away. He earlier co-starred in Michael Winterbottom’s 24 Hour Party People and Mike Leigh’s Topsy-Turvy. Serkis includes among his additional film credits such independent releases as Deathwatch, The Escapist, Shiner, Pandaemonium, The Jolly Boys’ Last Stand, Five Seconds to Spare, Sweety Barrett, Among Giants, Mojo, Career Girls, Loop, Stella Does Tricks and The Near Room.
An accomplished stage actor, Serkis has received acclaim for his work on the stages of London and across the United Kingdom. He starred as Iago in Othello, at the Royal Exchange Theatre; played the Emcee in Cabaret; and originated the role of Potts in Jez Butterworth’s Mojo, at the Royal Court Theatre. His stage work also includes productions of King Lear, Hush, and Decadence. In 2003, he made his directorial debut with the play The Double Bass at London’s Southwark Playhouse.
As a director, Serkis also helmed the award-winning Heavenly Sword™ for PLAYSTATION®3 and Enslaved: Odyssey to the West for Namco Bandai Games. In addition, he wrote and directed a short film called Snake, starring his wife, Lorraine Ashbourne, and Rupert Graves.
WOODY HARRELSON’s (The Colonel) rare mix of intensity and charisma consistently surprises and delights audiences and critics alike in both mainstream and independent projects. His portrayal of a casualty notification officer, opposite Ben Foster, in Oren Moverman’s The Messenger garnered him a 2010 Academy Award® nomination for Best Supporting Actor. He was previously nominated by the Academy, the Golden Globes® and SAG Awards® in the category of Best Actor for his portrayal of controversial magazine publisher Larry Flynt in Milos Forman’s The People vs. Larry Flynt.
Harrelson most recently wrote, directed, produced and starred in an unprecedented live feature film Lost in London, which was broadcast live into theaters nationwide on January 19, 2017. The comedy also stars Owen Wilson and Willie Nelson.
Harrelson will next be seen in the upcoming untitled Hans Solo Star Wars sequel, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri with Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell for writer/director Martin McDonagh, The Glass Castle for director Destin Cretton, LBJ as Lyndon B. Johnson and Shock and Awe for director Rob Reiner, as well as War for the Planet of the Apes.
Recent releases include the films Fox Searchlight’s critically acclaimed The Edge of Seventeen, Wilson with director Craig Johnson, Now You See Me 2 for director Jon Chu, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2, Triple Nine for director John Hillcoat. He was recently seen in HBO’s True Detective co-starring Matthew McConaughey for which he was nominated for Emmy and SAG Awards in the lead actor category and a Golden Globes Award for lead actor in a Mini Series. In 2012 Harrelson starred opposite Julianne Moore and Ed Harris in the HBO film Game Change for which he earned Primetime Emmy®, SAG Awards®, and Golden Globe® nominations for his role as Steve Schmidt, and Martin McDonagh’s Seven Psychopaths, alongside Sam Rockwell, Colin Farrell and Christopher Walken.
Other highlights from Harrelson’s film career include Rampart with director Oren Moverman, Ruben Fleischer’s box office hit Out of the Furnace starring opposite Christian Bale and Casey Affleck, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, Now You See Me, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Zombieland; The Grand; No Country For Old Men; A Scanner Darkly; A Prairie Home Companion; Seven Pounds; The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio; North Country; Transsiberian; The Thin Red Line; Welcome To Sarajevo; Natural Born Killers; Indecent Proposal; White Men Can’t Jump and was recently seen as the on screen host for director Pete McGrain’s powerful political documentary Ethos.
Harrelson first endeared himself to millions of viewers as a member of the ensemble cast of NBC’s long-running hit comedy, Cheers. For his work as the affable bartender ‘Woody Boyd,’ he won a Primetime Emmy® in 1988 and was nominated four additional times during his eight-year run on the show. In 1999, he gained another Primetime Emmy® nomination when he reprised the role in a guest appearance on the spin-off series Frasier.
Balancing his film and television work, in 1999 Harrelson directed his own play, Furthest From The Sun at the Theatre de la Juene Lune in Minneapolis. He followed next with the Roundabout’s Broadway revival of The Rainmaker; Sam Shepherd’s The Late Henry Moss, and John Kolvenbach’s On An Average Day opposite Kyle MacLachlan at London’s West End. Harrelson directed the Toronto premiere of Kenneth Lonergan’s This Is Our Youth at Toronto’s Berkeley Street Theatre. In the winter of 2005 Harrelson returned to London’s West End, starring in Tennessee Williams’ Night of the Iguana at the Lyric Theatre. In 2011, Harrelson co-wrote and directed the semi-autobiographical comedy Bullet for Adolf at Hart House Theatre in Toronto. In the summer of 2012 Bullet for Adolf made its Off-Broadway debut at New World Stages.
A versatile actor with extensive credits, STEVE ZAHN (Bad Ape) has received critical praise for his work on both stage and screen. As part of the cast of Dallas Buyers Club, he was nominated for the SAG Award for “Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture.” He can be seen opposite Viggo Mortensen, Ann Dowd and Frank Langella in Matt Ross’ film, Captain Fantastic. His starring role in Werner Herzog’s Rescue Dawn opposite Christian Bale, prompted the New York Times to call him a “revelation” and resulted in an Independent Spirit Award nomination for “Best Supporting Actor.” Zahn’s film work also includes starring alongside Jennifer Aniston in Management; Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules with Rachel Harris, A Perfect Getaway with Timothy Olyphant and Milla Jovovich, The Great Buck Howard alongside Tom Hanks and John Malkovich, and Night Train alongside Danny Glover.
His television credits include four seasons on the hit HBO series Treme, Comanche Moon alongside Val Kilmer and Rachel Griffiths, and USA’s Monk, as Tony Shaloub’s half brother. He was the Lead opposite Christian Slater in ABC’s, Mind Games. He is currently recurring on Modern Family as Ty Burrell’s neighbor, Ronnie, and was the lead role of the series Mad Dogs for Amazon Studios. He is currently the lead in the ABC pilot The Crossing.
Zahn has received critical acclaim for his scene-stealing work as ‘Glen Michaels’ in Out of Sight, and for his heartbreaking turn as a drug addicted father in the Penny Marshall directed film, Riding in Cars with Boys. His standout performance in Miramax Films’ Happy, Texas garnered him numerous accolades, including a Grand Jury Special Actor Award at the 1999 Sundance Film Festival and an Independent Spirit Award for “Best Actor.”
Zahn was first introduced to improvisational theater in high school where he crashed the audition of a local production of Biloxi Blues, winning the lead role in the play. Following his debut, he trained for two years at the prestigious American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, MA, before moving to New York and being cast in Tommy Tune’s National Tour of Bye, Bye, Birdie.
Following Birdie, Zahn went on to star in various theater productions and caught the eye of director Ben Stiller, who cast him in what would be Zahn’s feature film debut, Reality Bites. His breakthrough performance was for director Tom Hanks’ directorial debut, That Thing You Do! as ‘Lenny.’
TERRY NOTARY (Rocket) is an actor, director, creature performer, animal movement specialist, choreographer and stunt coordinator who has worked with the industry’s leading directors, including Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, Peter Jackson and Ron Howard. As a movement choreographer, Notary works extensively with cast to develop the signature character that is within a specific actor.
Notary has served as movement choreographer and performed in a slate of films on the cutting edge of performance capture. He will next be seen in Suicide Squad, Warcraft, The BFG, Kong and Jungle Book: Origins. Other films in which he also appears and served as movement choreographer include Avatar, The Hobbit trilogy, The Incredible Hulk, Rise of the Silver Surfer, How the Grinch Stole Christmas and The Adventures of Tintin. Notary also previously portrayed alpha chimp ‘Rocket’ in both Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and he also served as movement choreographer, working closely with the Ape-playing cast.
While at university, Notary was a four-time NCAA All-American and captain of the UCLA gymnastics team. Upon graduating with a BA in theater, he was recruited by the Cirque du Soleil, where he and 15 other performers from around the world formed Cirque’s prestigious ‘troupe maison’ and created the show “Mystere”. For five years, Notary performed in the acclaimed production as a lead acrobat and character performer, as well as musician on the teeter board, Chinese poles, trampoline and Taiko drums.
In addition to choreographing and appearing in Jungle Book: Origins, Notary also served as its 2nd unit director. When not working in film, he teaches master class movement workshops around the world. Plans are underway for Notary to direct his first feature.
AMIAH MILLER’s (Nova) was born on July 16, 2004 in Chesterfield, Virginia, to Merrill and Kaydee Miller. She has two brothers Austin (older) and Jaxon (younger). Amiah relocated to Orlando, Florida at the age of 3 with her family. At the age of 8, Amiah convinced her parents to have her seen by a local modeling agency in Florida. Her first year after signing, she booked numerous print ads for magazines and departments stores as well as commercials.
In 2013, a local agent introduced her to her current manager in Los Angeles. Traveling back and forth, Amiah booked her first pilot for ABC’s Clementine, directed by Michael Dinner, playing young Clementine opposite Sarah Snook in the spring of 2014. Amiah and her family relocated to Los Angeles summer of 2014.
Amiah recently appeared on CBS’s MacGyver. Her previous credits include guest and recurring roles on Richie Rich/ Awesomeness TV, Henry Danger/Nickelodeon, the NBC pilot How We Live and Best Friends Whenever/Disney. She also took the lead role in the indie film House by the Lake directed by Adam Gierasch, a supporting role in Trafficked directed by Will Wallace, and a supporting role in the feature film Lights Out directed by David F. Sandberg playing young Teresa Palmer.
Amiah strives to be a positive role model to others. She believes in hard work, staying positive and that everything happens for a reason. On her off time, Amiah trains in muay thai and jiu-jitsu at her father’s mixed martial arts gym.
KARIN KONOVAL’s (Maurice) most memorable roles include ‘Maurice the Orangutan’ in both Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, the ‘Wicked Witch’ in the mini-series Tin Man, ‘Mrs. Peacock’ in the infamous X-Files episode Home, and the lead role of ‘Mary Leonard’ in the feature film Cable Beach, for which she received a Philip Borsos award.
She has received numerous awards for her work in theatre, performing lead roles in contemporary classics such as August, Osage County, and a wide range of musicals such as Sweeney Todd, The Threepenny Opera, Guys And Dolls and many others. She has especially enjoyed performing the music of Stephen Sondheim, Kurt Weill, Jacques Brel and Leonard Cohen.
Born in Baltimore, Maryland, Konoval moved to Canada with her family as a child and grew up in Edmonton, Alberta where she originally trained as a dancer. After graduating from the University of Alberta with a Bachelor of Arts, she moved to Vancouver, British Columbia to pursue a career as an actor.
Konoval’s writing has been published in various anthologies and literary magazines, and broadcast on CBC Radio. As an artist she creates series of paintings that tell a story. She has had many solo exhibits of her work for a growing audience. Her first illustrated book, Jeffrey Takes a Walk in December, was published in 2015.
Becoming acquainted with orangutans and studying their behavior for her role as “Maurice” has sparked a profound personal interest and Konoval has continued to learn much more about these compelling great apes and the challenges facing their conservation.
GABRIEL CHAVARRIA (Preacher) is known for his lead role in the Emmy nominated series East Los High.
Chavarria’s work includes films such as Freedom Writers, A Better Life, Lowriders and various television shows such as Southland, Prime Suspect and Major Crimes.
Initially destined to be a professional soccer player, he was selected at the age of 13 for the Olympic Development Program and invited to play in tournaments across the U.S., Spain and England. But Chavarria’s course would change at the age of 16 when he was discovered during the casting of Freedom Writers, starring Academy Award® winner Hilary Swank.
In between working, he is heavily involved in supporting the charitable organization iod4kids.org as well as coaching youth soccer. Chavarria has a passion for music and fashion with a branded clothing line in the works.
ABOUT THE FILMMAKERS
MATT REEVES (Director) gained feature film prominence when he helmed the much lauded science fiction-horror hit Cloverfield (2008), about the arrival of a giant monster in New York City and its impact on the lives of several people there. Shot in hyper-realistic vérité style with a single camera carried by one of the protagonists, the film spoke to post-9/11 fears while delivering a special effects tour de force. The modestly budgeted film set a domestic record for a January release and went on to gross more than $175 million worldwide.
Following Cloverfield, Reeves wrote and directed Let Me In (2010). Acclaimed by critics and audiences alike, the film is a remake of the Swedish horror film Let the Right One In, about the relationship between a bullied young boy (Kodi Smit-McPhee) and his new neighbor, a young girl who turns out to be a vampire.
Reeves’ Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, starring Andy Serkis, Gary Oldman, Jason Clarke, Toby Kebbell and frequent collaborators Keri Russell and Kodi Smit-McPhee, grossed $700m at the worldwide box office.
He lives with his wife and son in Los Angeles.
MARK BOMBACK’s (Screenplay) credits include Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Insurgent, The Wolverine, Total Recall, Unstoppable, Live Free or Die Hard, Deception, Race to Witch Mountain and Godsend. Films in development include The Art of Racing in the Rain for Disney and an untitled Ronda Rousey biopic for Paramount.
While primarily a writer of feature films, Bomback co-developed the TV series Legends for TNT with writer-producer Howard Gordon, and co-authored a young adult novel, Mapmaker, with novelist Galaxy Craze. In addition, he has advised at the Sundance Institute’s New Frontier Story Lab, and has taught screenwriting at his alma mater, Wesleyan University. He lives in New York with his wife and four children.
PETER CHERNIN (Producer) is the CEO of The Chernin Group (TCG), which he founded in 2009.
Through Chernin Entertainment, TCG’s entertainment production company, Chernin has produced a string of box office hits, including the global blockbuster features Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes which re-launched the franchise for a new generation, the Oscar® nominated drama Hidden Figures from director Ted Melfi, action comedies The Heat and Spy, Tim Burton’s Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, comedy Snatched starring Amy Schumer and Goldie Hawn, sci-fi thriller Oblivion, dramedy St. Vincent, and crime drama The Drop. Upcoming films from the company include The Greatest Showman starring Hugh Jackman, Red Sparrow directed by Francis Lawrence and starring Jennifer Lawrence, The Mountain Between Us starring Kate Winslet and Idris Elba, and War for the Planet of the Apes. Chernin serves as an executive producer on FOX’s hit television comedy “New Girl.” His previous executive producing credits include “Ben and Kate” and “Touch.”
TCG’s assets also include CA Media, an Asia-based media investment company; Otter Media, a venture formed with AT&T to invest in and launch global over-the-top video services, which oversees a portfolio of businesses including Fullscreen Media, Ellation, Gunpowder & Sky, and Hello Sunshine; and strategic investments in U.S.-based technology and media companies including Pandora, SoundCloud, Headspace, Flipboard, Scopely, Medium, and Barstool Sports.
Prior to starting TCG, Chernin served as President and Chief Operating Officer of News Corporation, and Chairman & CEO of the Fox Group. Chernin sits on the Boards of American Express and UC Berkeley, and is a senior advisor to Providence Equity Partners. He is Chairman and Co-Founder of Malaria No More, a non-profit dedicated to ending deaths due to malaria. Chernin holds a B.A. in English from UC Berkeley.
DYLAN CLARK (Producer) is a producer and founder of Dylan Clark Productions, a company he launched in 2017. Clark, who has 20 years’ experience producing commercially and critically successful films and building and running film operations for prominent entertainment companies, is currently housed at Universal Pictures.
Best known for his work on the blockbuster Planet of the Apes franchise, Clark was formerly a partner at Bluegrass Films since 2013. While at Bluegrass, he oversaw development and production on a diverse slate of films with Bluegrass Films Founder Scott Stuber. Stuber and Clark produced Patriot’s Day, directed by Peter Berg and starring Mark Wahlberg which was released by Lionsgate Films in December of 2016.
Dylan Clark Productions is in pre-production on a fast-tracked re-imagining of Scarface for Universal with David Ayer attached to direct and Diego Luna to star. The company is developing Battlestar Galactica with director Francis Lawrence (The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1) and writer Lisa Joy (Westworld); Bird Box; Bad Monkeys starring Margot Robbie (Suicide Squad); The Prisoner, Space Race with director Dan Trachtenberg (10 Cloverfield Lane); a film based on Armada from bestselling novelist Ernie Cline (Ready Player One); Bermuda Triangle with Sam Esmail (Mr. Robot) attached to write and direct; and a film adaptation of Microsoft’s popular third-person shooter franchise, Gears of War.
Before working at Bluegrass, Clark was President of the film Division at Chernin Entertainment, a company he launched with former News Corp COO Peter Chernin in 2009. Clark successfully rebooted the coveted Planet of the Apes property with Chernin. The first two films, Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes and Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes, garnered $1.2 billion in worldwide box office and 81% and 90% “fresh” on Rotten Tomatoes (RT), respectively. War For The Planet Of The Apes will be released on July 14, 2017, by 20th Century Fox. While at Chernin Entertainment Clark also developed and produced Oblivion directed by Joseph Kosinski and starring Tom Cruise and PARENTAL GUIDANCE directed by Andy Fickman and starring Billy Crystal. He served as executive producer on the female powerhouse comedy The Heat starring Sandra Bullock and Melissa McArthy which was directed by Paul Feig.
Prior to his work with Chernin, Clark was a production executive at Universal for eight years, most recently serving as Executive Vice President of Production. During his tenure, he oversaw production for dozens of films including Friday Night Lights, Dawn Of The Dead, Children Of Men, Cinderella Man, The Kingdom, Charlie Wilson’s War, Green Zone, Couples Retreat and Robin Hood.
Clark started his career in film as Director of Development for MGM where he oversaw production of hit films such as Barbershop and the Denzel Washington thriller Out Of Time.
Before entering into the film business, Clark worked as an aide to U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein in Washington, D.C. He is a graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara. Clark resides in Los Angles with his wife and three sons.
RICK JAFFA (Producer) has collaborated with his wife and partner, Amanda Silver, for more than 25 years. Together, they have established themselves as go-to franchise writers and producers for some of the biggest titles in Hollywood history. Jaffa and Silver successfully conceived and helped reboot The Planet Of The Apes franchise. In 2015, the pair co-wrote the worldwide blockbuster Jurassic World, which has grossed more than $1.6 billion worldwide, making it the fourth-highest-grossing film of all time.
Recently, the duo teamed up with Oscar®-winning director and writer James Cameron to co-write the much-anticipated sequels to the top-grossing film in history, Avatar. The films are currently in pre-production. Additionally, their script for the live action version of the Disney animated film Mulan is also pre-production with Niki Caro directing.
In 2011, the duo wrote and produced the hit Rise of the Planet of the Apes, which earned an Oscar® nomination for its groundbreaking visual effects and successfully rebooted the Planet of the Apes franchise. In 2014, they co-wrote and produced the sequel, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Both films garnered stellar reviews and combined crossed $1.1 billion worldwide.
A native of DeSoto, Texas, Jaffa graduated from Southern Methodist University with a degree in history and political science. He later earned his MBA at the University of Southern California. In 1981, Jaffa began his entertainment career in the mailroom of the William Morris Agency. He became the executive assistant to legendary agent Stan Kamen, who was then head of the motion-picture department. Later, as an agent, Jaffa represented writers and directors, packaging films as diverse as 1987’s RoboCop and 1985’s The Trip to Bountiful.
He began collaboration with Silver as an executive producer on The Hand That Rocks the Cradle, which she scripted. They then co-wrote Eye For an Eye and The Relic.
AMANDA SILVER (Producer) has collaborated with her husband and partner, Rick Jaffa, for more than 25 years. Together, they’ve established themselves as go-to franchise writers and producers for some of the biggest titles in Hollywood history. Jaffa and Silver successfully conceived and helped reboot The Planet Of The Apes franchise. In 2015, the pair co-wrote the worldwide blockbuster Jurassic World, which has grossed more than $1.6 billion worldwide, making it the fourth-highest-grossing film of all time.
Recently, the duo teamed up with Oscar®-winning director and writer James Cameron to co-write the much-anticipated sequels to the top-grossing film in history, Avatar. The films are currently in pre-production. Additionally, their script for the live action version of the Disney animated film Mulan is also in pre-production with Niki Caro directing.
In 2011, the duo wrote and produced the hit Rise of the Planet of the Apes, which earned an Oscar® nomination for its groundbreaking visual effects and successfully rebooted the Planet of the Apes franchise. In 2014, they co-wrote and produced the sequel, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Both films garnered stellar reviews and combined crossed $1.1 billion worldwide.
Silver grew up in New York City and received her BA in history from Yale University before moving to Los Angeles. She was an executive assistant at TriStar and Paramount Pictures before enrolling in film school at the University of Southern California, where she earned an MFA in screenwriting. Her grandfather, Sidney Buchman, was a legendary screenwriter, a founding member of the Writer’s Guild, and wrote the Academy Award®-winning Here Comes Mr. Jordan, as well as the Academy Award®-nominated Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, among others.
Silver’s thesis script was the thriller The Hand That Rocks the Cradle, which went on to be a hit in 1992 and began her collaboration with Jaffa, who executive produced the film. She followed the next year with a Cable ACE Award-winning episode of Fallen Angels, directed by Alfonso Cuarón. Silver and Jaffa have since co-written such films as Eye for an Eye and The Relic.
MARY McLAGLEN (Executive Producer) is a veteran filmmaker equally adept at overseeing both the creative and physical production aspects of some of the industry’s most memorable feature films. Most recently, she executive produced David O. Russell’s Joy, starring Jennifer Lawrence, which was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for “Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical”.
McLaglen has collaborated four times with director Shawn Levy, executive producing Night At The Museum: Secret Of The Tomb, This Is Where I Leave You, Real Steel and The Internship.
McLaglen also has a long-running collaboration with Oscar®-winning actress Sandra Bullock, having worked together on eight projects including The Proposal, All About Steve, The Lakehouse, Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous, Two Weeks Notice, Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, Practical Magic and Hope Floats. McLaglen served as executive producer on Anne Fletcher’s The Guilt Trip, starring Barbra Streisand and Seth Rogen; Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story; Mimi Leder’s Pay It Forward; and Barry Levinson’s comedy Envy. She co-produced One Fine Day, Sgt. Bilko, Moonlight and Valentino, The Client and Sommersby.
A third generation veteran of the movie business, McLaglen is the granddaughter of Oscar-winning actor Victor McLaglen (The Informer, The Quiet Man) and the daughter of the late director Andrew V. McLaglen (McLintock!, Shenandoah, The Rare Breed). Her brother, Josh McLaglen, is among the industry’s most highly-esteemed assistant directors (Titanic, Avatar).
Mary McLaglen began her career as a production assistant on her father’s sets, moved up the ladder to the rank of production coordinator (Nomads, Runaway Train, Back to School) and unit production manager (Jack’s Back, The Prince of Pennsylvania, My Cousin Vinnie) before producing her first film, Cold Feet, in 1988.
MICHAEL SERESIN (Director of Photography) left his job as a PA at Pacific Films in his native New Zealand in 1966 to pursue a career as a freelance camera assistant in Europe after being inspired by filmmakers such as Truffaut and Fellini.
After 18 months in Rome and London, he graduated to lighting camera status and by 1968 was working alongside his future BFCS partners, Bob Brooks and Len Fulford.
From 1970 he combined commercials work with shooting movies, becoming a director of photography for Harold Becker, Adrian Lyne and Alan Parker, on films such as Bugsy Malone, Midnight Express, City Hall, Angela’s Ashes and more recently, Harry Potter – The Prisoner of Azkaban. Michael Seresin also served as director of photography on Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and Jungle Book: Origins, directed by Andy Serkis.
WILLIAM HOY (Editor) knows the importance of story and character first and has used visual effects to help achieve this idea. From Warner Bros’ visually groundbreaking epic 300 and 20th Century Fox’s visual effects laden I Robot to the critically acclaimed Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, these are examples of this tenet.
Other films Hoy has enjoyed collaborations on as editor are We Were Soldiers starring Mel Gibson, The Man In The Iron Mask with Leonardo DiCaprio, The Bone Collector and Watchmen, a film directed by Zack Snyder that is filled with emotional complexity and heavy with visual effects. Hoy is a member of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts And Sciences and American Cinema Editors.
JAMES CHINLUND (Production Designer) was born and raised in New York City. He studied Fine Art at CalArts in Los Angeles, experimenting in light sculpture and large scale installation work. After graduating, Chinlund returned to New York and started his film career as a carpenter before finding his first opportunities as a designer on independent films and music videos. During this period he first worked with frequent collaborator Darren Aronofsky (Requiem for a Dream, The Fountain) in addition to other directors in the New York independent film world including: Todd Solondz (Storytelling), Paul Schrader (Autofocus) and Spike Lee (25th Hour). Over the years James has been active in the worlds of commercials and fashion as well. Collaborators include: Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin, Rupert Sanders, Spike Jonze, Fredrik Bond, Lance Acord, Gus Van Sant and Harmony Korine. In 2010 he won both the Art Directors Guild and the AICP awards for “Absolut World”, a commercial collaboration with director Rupert Sanders. In 2012 James completed work on The Avengers for Marvel which set a record for the highest-grossing opening weekend ever. He most recently designed Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.
Chinlund divides his time between Los Angeles, New York and New Orleans with his wife and daughter.
DAN LEMMON (Visual Effects Supervisor) is an Oscar-winning visual effects artist who joined Weta Digital in 2002 to work on The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.
He was a Digital Effects Supervisor on Peter Jackson’s Academy Award® winning King Kong, and worked as Visual Effects Supervisor on Jumper, 30 Days of Night and a number of commercials. He also worked on I, Robot as a CG Supervisor and was a Visual Effects Supervisor on Man of Steel.
Notably, he worked on James Cameron’s Avatar, developing the Floating Mountain environments and other 3D assets, and then supervised the integration of new tools into the production pipeline and continued on to oversee over 250 shots.
Before joining Weta Digital, Lemmon was a CG Supervisor and Digital Artist at Digital Domain in Venice, California, where he worked on commercials and several films and including The Lord of The Rings: The Fellowship of The Ring, Fight Club, A Beautiful Mind, Titanic and The Fifth Element.
Most recently, Lemmon was Visual Effects Supervisor on The Jungle Book where he won an Oscar and a BAFTA award. He is known for his work as Visual Effects Supervisor for both Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and Rise of the Planet of the Apes and was nominated for an Oscar and BAFTA Award for both films.
Lemmon has contributed to six films that have won Academy Awards® for Visual Effects, and he is an active member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
JOE LETTERI’s (Sr. Visual Effects Supervisor) pioneering work in visual effects has earned him four BAFTA awards and four Academy Awards® for Best Visual Effects—for Avatar, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King and King Kong.
Letteri has a long-standing interest in creating compelling, realistic creatures—from Jurassic Park’s dinosaurs to Gollum, the Na’vi in Avatar and Caesar from the Planet of the Apes franchise. He has developed many techniques that have become industry standards for creating photorealistic digital effects. This includes co-developing the subsurface scattering technique that brought Gollum to life —winning an Academy® Technical Achievement Award in 2004— and pushing the development of large-scale virtual production.
Under Letteri’s leadership, Weta Digital has continued to expand and improve these techniques through films like War for the Planet of the Apes and Luc Besson’s new sci-fi epic Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. Joe was nominated for an Oscar and a BAFTA Award for both Rise and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.
RYAN STAFFORD (Co-producer, Visual Effects Producer) is an award-winning visual effects producer who has been involved with some of the industry’s largest, most technically complex films. Stafford most recently served as visual effects producer on Marvel Studio’s 2015 box-office smash, The Avengers: Age Of Ultron, for which he received an Australian Academy Award nomination. He also served as visual effects producer on Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, winning the Visual Effects Society Award for Outstanding Visual Effects in a Visual Effects-Driven Photoreal/Live Action Feature Motion Picture.
Previously, Stafford was the associate visual effects producer on Rise of the Planet of the Apes and The Incredible Hulk. He also served as executive producer for the well-established Toronto-based facility Soho Visual Effects, where he contributed to titles such as X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Book Of Eli and The A-Team, among others. Early in his career, Stafford served as a visual effects coordinator on a slate of films including X-Men: The Last Stand, I ,Robot, Aeon Flux and Flight Of The Phoenix, many of which were at Digital Domain, where he worked with and learned from some of the industry’s greatest talents.
MELISSA BRUNING’s (Costume Designer) most recent films include Wild, directed by Jean-Marc Vallee and starring Reese Witherspoon, and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. She also previously worked with director Matt Reeves on Let Me In.
Other films include Parker and Love Ranch, both directed by Taylor Hackford, Friends with Kids, The Irishman, Five Dollars a Day, Club Dread, Super Troopers, Kissing Jessica Stein, Zyzzyx Rd., Follow Me Outside, Just One Time, and Under Hellgate Bridge.
MICHAEL GIACCHINO (Composer) has credits that feature some of the most popular and
acclaimed film projects in recent history, including Inside Out, Jurassic World, The Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, The Incredibles, Ratatouille and Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. Giacchino’s 2009 score for the Pixar hit Up earned him an Oscar®, a Golden Globe®, the BAFTA, the Broadcast Film Critics’ Choice Award and two GRAMMY® Awards.
Giacchino began his filmmaking career at the age of 10 in his backyard in Edgewater Park, New Jersey, and eventually went on to study filmmaking at the School of Visual Arts in NYC. Afte college, he landed a marketing job at Disney and began studies in music composition, first at Juilliard and then at UCLA. From marketing, he became a producer in the fledgling Disney Interactive Division where he had the opportunity to write music for video games.
After moving to a producing job at the newly formed DreamWorks Interactive Division, he was asked to score the temp track for the video game adaptation of The Lost World: Jurassic Park. Subsequently, Steven Spielberg hired him as the composer and it became the first PlayStation game to have a live orchestral score. Giacchino continued writing for video games and became well known for his Medal of Honor scores.
Giacchino’s work in video games sparked the interest of J.J. Abrams, and thus began their long-standing relationship that would lead to scores for the hit television series Alias and Lost; and the feature films Mission Impossible III, Star Trek, Super 8 and Star Trek Into Darkness.
Additional projects include collaborations with Disney Imagineering on music for Space Mountain, Star Tours (with John Williams) and the Ratatouille ride in Disneyland Paris.
Giacchino also was the musical director of the 81st Annual Academy Awards®. His music can be heard in concert halls internationally with Star Trek, Star Trek Into Darkness and Ratatouille films being performed live-to-picture with a full orchestra.
This past year, Giacchino’s music could be heard in Zootopia, Star Trek Beyond, Dr. Strange and the newly released Rogue One which marked the first score to be composed for a Star Wars film following John Williams. Giacchino’s projects for 2017 include War for the Planet of the Apes, Spider-Man Homecoming and The Book of Henry.
Giacchino serves as the Governor of the Music Branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and sits on the advisory board of Education Through Music Los Angeles.
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and 20th Century Fox.