Pulled from the archives is this interview conducted with director Rupert Wyatt in the aftermath of the success of 2011’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes. At the time it seemed likely that Rupert would be directing the sequel, and during this conversation we discussed some of his earliest thoughts on the subject. As things worked out, of course, he would ultimately drop out and Matt Reeves would come in to guide Dawn and War for the Planet of the Apes through production. Check out the transcript and video below.
RUPERT WYATT: Our story isn’t told in microcosm, but we needed to open it up into the world at large and we needed to do that in such a way that for the next film, you will understand why the playing field has been leveled.
BLOG OF POTA: But how do you spread the intelligence in the next film without the gas?
RUPERT WYATT: It’s a good question. In the same way, I guess, that Caesar inherits the genes of the mother. The next film should come a generation after this one.
BLOG OF POTA: So an elderly Caesar?
RUPERT WYATT: Not that elderly; they live a long time. Apes reach adulthood in five to eight years, so the new generation could come eight years from now and Caesar would still be young. They live to 55 or sometimes 60, so the great thing is, in a way, you can have the next generation of apes that have grown up. Without giving too much away, but just within that Shangri La they find, that paradise, you can have the new generation evolve. They’ve inherited the genes and they’re the ones that are going into battle. They’re the ones that are displaying real fear as young soldiers going into battle. I think of Full Metal Jacket; that kind of urban environment not dissimilar to Western forces going into Baghdad or something where you’ve got U.S. soldiers in Saddam Hussein’s palace, coming across golden telephones in the same way that apes could be kind of in cities and understanding our species through what we’ve created and television or cooking, if you know what I mean.
There’s so much we can do that would just be fantastic. I think that that means whilst this story plays out as a fairytale, the next one would play out as a kind of Shakespearean sci-fi drama where you have Caesar as the leader of this revolution. But Koba would be kind of the one leading his own troops that are looking to wipe out humans in a genocide and Caesar’s more conflicted; maybe he needs Koba’s assistance in terms of the conflict. And Maurice is his advisor and is telling him you need to basically combine forces and that kind of thing.
BLOG OF POTA: And the inherent conflict between Caesar and Koba over this, with Koba not liking the idea of compassion for humans — suggesting themes from some of the original films.
RUPERT WYATT: Totally. And Caesar needs the allegiance between the two, although he doesn’t believe in what Koba believes in, which is complete genocide.
BLOG OF POTA: It would seem that language would play a more important role in the next one.
RUPERT WYATT: Oh, I think so. Apes don’t have a voice box; actually they don’t have an Adam’s apple, but they have a voice box, though their larnyx is set far lower down their throat, hence the reason why they cannot speak. Now, through genetic enhancement, you could elevate that. We actually had a scene, which we cut, where Caroline, the veterinarian, notices that there’s something different about Caesar’s throat compared to a normal chimpanzee. But the trouble with that was that the audience would be, like, “Ah, I know where that’s going. He’s going to speak.” So we had to be very careful and decided not to go with that. But in the next film you can start to sort of see how they’re taught to speak and how they evolve.
BLOG OF POTA: Do you see James Franco’s Will Rodman character being part of the sequel?
RUPERT WYATT: I don’t know. It’s the apes’ story in many ways. But possibly, in the sense that that relationship is so strong between father and son. But you could also portray the human face through that of a resistance leader. The guy leading the pockets of human resistance against the apes, whilst also trying to find a cure for the virus. Maybe it’s a little bit like 12 Monkeys, where every human’s gone underground to avoid the virus. And when they come up onto the surface, they’re wearing gas masks. In a way, that would dehumanize them and make us then really follow the apes. And that’s what interests me. Thsi should be about apes as our enemy. This should be about the idea of a whole new civilization coming into being. And with the beauty of modern cinema, we as an audience have the opportunity to witness that.
BLOG OF POTA: Growing up with those original Apes films, we as an audience always wanted the apes to win anyway.
RUPERT WYATT: But they’re a mirror or ourselves, and that’s what makes this mythology so great. It’s that kind of primal instinct in us to sort of look at them and think, “Wow, do they have a soul? Do they think like us? If they do, what are they thinking?” This story actually tells us that; tells us what they’re thinking.