Biographic by Steve McGarry for June 15, 2014
Biographic Steve McGarry Planet of the Apes Based on the 1963 French Novel "La Planete Des Singes" by Pierre Boulle - who also wrote "The Bridge Over the River Kwai" - "Planet of the Apes" was first brought to the screen in 1968. Starring Charlton Heston as an astronaut who crash lands on a planet where primitive humans are ruled by their ape overlords, the genius John Chambers won an honorary Oscar for his innovative prosthetic makeup work. Eighty makeup artists were employed to prepare the special masks, at a grand total of over one million dollars! Each mask took up to four hours to apply each morning and 90 minutes to remove - using 180 proof alcohol - at the end of each day's shooting! "Planet of the Apes" spawned four sequels - "Beneath the Planet of the Apes," "Escape from the Planet of the Apes," "Conquest of the Planet of the Apes" and "Battle for the Planet of the Apes" - a TV show, an animated series and comic books, veteran actor Roddy McDowall appeared in the original film, three of the sequels and the TV series. He played three chimpanzees in total - Cornelius in the first and third movies, Caesar in films four and five, and Galen on the TV series. For his 2001 remake of Planet of the Apes," director Tim Burton wanted the apes to look as real as possible, so he enrolled all the actors playing simians in "Ape School." Terry Notary, a former UCLA gymnast turned Cirque du Soleil performer, tutored the cast for six weeks in ape movement and behavior. Mark Wahlberg starred as the stranded astronaut, and Tim Roth, Helena Bonham Carter and Charlton Heston (in an uncredited cameo) played apes in the production. 2011's "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" starred James Franco and featured both Terry Notary and Andy Serkis as apes, using a digital technique called performance capture. Serkis, who has earned great acclaim for such performance capture portrayals as Gollum in "The Lord of the Rings" and "Hobbit" movies and the lead in 2005's "King Kong," portrayed leading character Caesar, a role he reprises in this summer's "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes." The leading practitioner of the technique, Serkis is the co-founder of The Imaginarium Studios, a creative digital studio launched in 2011 that specializes in performance capture.