No animals were harmed in the making of this movie, except maybe the humans. The chimps, orangutans, and gorillas in the sequel to 2011’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes are entirely CG — think PETA meets Weta. “This is definitely the most ambitious performance-capture movie ever,” says Andy Serkis, who plays Caesar, the primate protagonist. The new film picks up 10 years after Caesar led a rebellion of hyperintelligent apes through the streets of San Francisco and a deadly pathogen wiped out much of human civilization. “They have watched for a decade over the skyline as the lights have dwindled,” says Serkis. “And it would seem that humanity has disappeared.”
In fact, we don’t see a single hairless face until well into the film, when an outpost of humans — including Gary Oldman, Jason Clarke, and Keri Russell — clashes with Caesar and his clan. “This is the apes’ movie,” says director Matt Reeves (Let Me In). “We immerse you in this culture they built before they have to defend it.”
This Month in James Franco
Who He Plays Will Rodman, his character from Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Of course, a virulent plague has wiped out Will — along with much of humanity — so it’s only a posthumous cameo that appears via video (although it seems that no one told Franco this was the case).
Franco Says “Wait, I have a cameo? I didn’t know that. You know, I don’t even think they asked my permission to do that.”