Caesar the ape scowls in 'War for the Planet of the Apes'.
(20th Century Studios)

Is the King of Mocap Returning for ‘Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes’?

Andy Serkis first brought life to the rebooted Planet of the Apes franchise by providing the motion capture for the ape that started it all, Caesar. With the latest installment, Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes, on the horizon, fans want to know if Serkis is still involved.

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In 2011’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Serkis portrayed the character of Caesar, the son of the first ape to receive enhanced cognition thanks to a developmental drug, ALZ-112. This drug and its successor ALZ-113, end up shifting the balance of power in the world, creating a global pandemic amongst humans and increasing the intelligence of apes. Serkis would continue to provide the motion capture for Caesar in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and War for the Planet of the Apes. The latest addition to the franchise, however, is set 300 years on from the final film, meaning Caesar has long since passed. With his original character no longer around is Serkis still a part of the franchise?

Despite his significant role in the franchise, Serkis did not return to act in the most recent film. The new ape protagonist, Noa, is played by actor Owen Teague. That doesn’t mean that Serkis has washed his hands of the franchise though, as he stayed on board as a consultant. Though his character was no longer around, his legacy is still very much felt in this sequel, with the apes considering him almost as a Moses-like figure that led them into their future.

Proximus Caesar in Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes
(20th Century Studios)

In order to tell this story, director Wes Ball reached out to Serkis as well as director Matt Reeves (who helmed the three previous Planet of the Apes films) to get their insight and opinions. Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Ball said,

“Caesar is very much a character in this story, he’s an important character in this story, so we wanted to make sure we were getting it right. Andy is just a nice dude — he read the script, listened to me babble on about what we wanted to do with the story, showed him all the concept art, just nothing but support. He understood that we had to be kind of courageous and brave and do what we were trying to do here. When I finally showed the movie to Andy and he wrote me a very nice email and gave me the thumbs up, that was everything to me.”

Teague also discussed the role with Serkis, adding “I’ve looked up to him since I was a little kid and I wanted to take everything that he was going to give me.”

Serkis is considered one of the best motion capture actors of all time, having been at the forefront of the technology. He has played some of the most noteworthy motion capture characters of all time, including his iconic turn as Gollum in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, as well as another famous ape, Kong in the 2005 film King Kong where he reunited with director Peter Jackson. I’m sure if I were in Teague’s shoes, I would also want Serkis’ mentorship and guidance when it comes to playing a motion capture ape. So while Serkis may not physically be in the film, he is still involved spiritually.

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes hits theatres on May 8, 2024.

(featured image: 20th Century Studios)


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Laura Pollacco
Laura Pollacco (she/her) is a contributing writer here at The Mary Sue, having written for digital media since 2022 and has a keen interest in all things Marvel, Lord of the Rings, and anime. She has worked for various publications including We Got This Covered, but much of her work can be found gracing the pages of print and online publications in Japan, where she resides. Outside of writing she treads the boards as an actor, is a portrait and documentary photographer, and takes the little free time left to explore Japan.