PLANET OF THE APES
The Actors And Their Roles
The sudden appearance on the ape planet of Captain Leo Davidson, alien to the present order and unaffected by its oppression, ultimately serves as heroic symbol to the enslaved and hunted humans, a challenge to the status quo and a catalyst for revolutionary social change.
Mark Wahlberg portrays Leo Davidson, his first action hero role. Wahlberg previously starred in such films as "The Perfect Storm,"
"Three Kings" and "Boogie Nights," the latter marking his breakout performance.
"What I like about Mark is he's got a real gravity to him," says Tim Burton. "He's an anchor of strength and clarity. If you want the audience to see things through the eyes of your lead character, you want to feel like here's a human being that you can relate to, who sees the weirdness, the intensity of it all and is dealing with it. I thought Mark could pull that off."
Wahlberg, a longtime Burton admirer, only needed to know that Burton was at the helm, before accepting the role. "I hadn't even read the script when I agreed to play the part," he recalls I met Tim for literally five minutes, and I was so impressed that I said I'd do anything he wanted.
"The only thing I was worried about was the possibility of having to wear a loincloth," Wahlberg adds with a smile.
"Fortunately, that wasn't necessary."
Shortly after crashing on the planet, Wahlberg's Leo finds himself running for his life along with dozens of other human beings, tracked down by fearsome apes on horseback, led by the captain of the ape army, Attar. Michael Clarke Duncan plays the magnificent
silverback, who dedicated to his spiritual leader, Thade.
"Thade is crazy and wicked but he's my boss," says Duncan, an Oscar nominee for "The Green Mile." "Whatever orders he gives me, I carry out with a vengeance because I'm in the army and my loyalty is unquestioning."
The tyrannical Thade is played by Britain's Tim Roth, who was Oscar-nominated for his villainous role in "Rob Roy," his first studio feature. "Thade is definitely the villain of the piece," says Roth. "He represents a certain point of view in the ape culture, especially the aggressiveness of the species.
"He's a bit of a fascist. Thade doesn't like the human traits that are invading apedom. As a species, he finds them disgusting. They smell very strange. They don't groom. To him, they're monsters. As the head of the military, he's for wiping them out, getting rid of them."
In a bit of Burton-esque irony, the director and screenwriters gave Thade an important human trait: He has strong feelings for An, played by Helena Bonham Carter, who was nominated for an Academy Award for her starring role in "Wings of the Dove." Even after five hours of primate make-up, the actress emerged as the most beautiful chimpanzee on the planet. An is passionate, independent-minded, and a human rights activist who believes in co-existence of all species.
Burton offered Bonham Carter the role without an audition. "He phoned me up and said,
'Don't take this the wrong way, but you are the first person that I thought of to play this chimp,"' she remembers.
"And, I didn't take it wrongly at all. But I had to ask him why he thought of me? And Tim said,
'Well, you know, I just had this sort of hunch that you'd like to try something very different.' It was so refreshing."
Bonham Carter describes An as an "upper class chimp of liberal persuasion. She's basically a human rights activist and somebody who's disgusted with the way that humans are treated as slaves and pets. An has a strong belief that the humans are intelligent and have souls. These are all very modern and heretical ideas, you must understand, on her planet."
An may be the ideal female — in any species. 'in this ape society, humans are considere
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