In this video, Andy Serkis takes a look back at six scenes he feels chronicles Caesar’s journey through Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and War for the Planet of the Apes. The transcript of the video is below.
#1 Will Rodman Leaves Caesar in the Ape Sanctuary
ANDY SERKIS: This was one of the most emotional scenes to shoot in the first film. And it really it was this first sense of him being rejected from his father figure. James Franco is this character. Will is very distressed and he’s trying to calm him down and Caesar is just trying to fathom out what what’s going on. Caesar’s furiously trying to look into Will’s eyes and he’s banging on the glass and going crazy. And I remember when we were shooting that it was a sort breakthrough scene in a way and a real shift in perspective. We start to see this story at that point from Caesar’s point of view for the first time. Up to that point, it’s really been Will’s journey and his journey as a scientist trying to find this Alzheimer’s cure that’s gone wrong. And then there is this sort of amazing sort of journey where the point of view starts to shift and it becomes Caesars. And that’s that. This is in fact the key scene where it happened.
#2 The Moments After Crossing the San Francisco Bridge
ANDY SERKIS: This part of the story is after the apes of across San Francisco Bridge and of are running away to freedom led by Caesar and Will is chasing after them. Will tries to convince him that he should come back, that he doesn’t wanna see Caesar in danger, and that he should come home. At this point, Caesar looks him square in the eyes and says what are three of the four words that he says in this movie. The first word that he ever says in the movie using human language is no. And then these three words, “Caesar is home” is what he says to Will. And it’s a very tender moment; it is saying goodbye to his father, but also saying, “I know what I’ve become now, and I know what my place is and I know that I’ve arrived.” And it’s a sort real kind of moment of transition where he’s surrounded by his fellow apes and Will realizes that he has to say goodbye to him and that this is the final departure, really.There’s a mutual respect and love between them, but they can no longer exist in the way that they have done before.
#3 Apes Meeting Human Community in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
ANDY SERKIS: Doors part and they see the humans standing there, the horse, the apes are all on horse hor horseback. We had very well trained horses but they did not like human beings pretending to be apes riding them. So there was this extraordinary situation where they were quite skittish and we had to be very still for the scene that all the apes would come down. And we were sitting on our horses and I had a horse called Shirley. And Shirley was not happy about an ape riding on her back. And she was this very male looking horse, very brutish looking, but actually very, very skittish. And so it started off with me riding forward very slowly. I’m just gonna play the moment, actually now I’m gonna relive the horror. Because what happened was that as I sort of slowly marched forward, and it’s very intense, and I’m looking down at Jason Clark’s character and I say these words, Apes do not want war. And as soon as I go, Apes Shirley just starts to run sideways and I run sideways with her and I’m trying to hold her in position. And every single time we kind of came to this moment, Shirley would bark. So it ended up after we’d shot it a few times, and Shirley had thrown me this way that way and gone over it all over the place. I ended up having to shoot sitting on a ladder, Which was not great because every time the doors opened and we reshot this moment where Jason would walk out and then Gary Oldman would come out, there would be, in fact more and more apes not sitting on horses and more apes sitting on ladders. Anyway, not to destroy the myth, it was a very powerful moment, but I have to give you a little bit of an insight into what was actually going on.
#4 The Death of Koba
ANDY SERKIS: Caesar has almost brought Koba to the light side, if you like, and thought he’d been able to convince him that he should have empathy for human beings. But Koba has been brutalized so badly in the laboratory and has been experimented on and can have no forgiveness for human beings. Which is why the conflict has arisen, because he is of this difference of opinion with Caesar. Caesar is now in this terrible position where he knows to ensure the future of his species, to ensure the safety of his species and to avoid conflict escalating even further, that he has to take Koba’s life, which goes against every single thing that he believes. And one of the fundamental founding rules of their society, which is apes shall not kill ape. So he looks down into Koba’s eyes, and Koba looks at him and reminds him of this and says, “Ape shall not kill ape.”
And Caesar looks at him and he’s got a very steely look in his eyes, and he reaches down and we’re not quite sure what he’s gonna do. He grabs Koba and for a moment you think he’s gonna lift him up. He looks around and he sees all the apes that are wounded, including Maurice. And then he returns, He looks back at Koba, and then he says the words, “You are not ape,” And then he releases him and Koba falls to his death. We return to Caesar. The look in Caesar’s eyes at that point is both a sense of something that he had to do to ensure the future of his species, but he knows that he has forever changed, that he will carry that guilt with him for the rest of his life.
#5 “King Kong is Dead”
ANDY SERKIS: The apes have been living now in a high degree of conflict. They’ve been fired on from all angles. They’re pretty much decimated. There are still survivors, but they’ve been wounded. And in the last foray by the human beings, there’s been a massive launch, massive attack, and many of them have been killed. So this scene was an extraordinary scene to shoot, because it was really the beginning of Caesar’s transition from this empathetic character who is trying to peacefully find a solution to the conflict to this moment that just rips him in half. And as I was saying earlier, that’s why this movie for me was all about empathy and about the ability to forgive and why the inspiration for the third part of the movie for me was really looking inside myself and thinking, “How would I be able to cope with what Caesar has to go through? Would I be able to forgive were this to happen to my family?” So this is the beginning of that journey.
#6 Caesar’s Final Moments
ANDY SERKIS: Caesar’s finally led his people to what in effect is the promised land. He has become this Moses-like character. We’ve seen the exodus across the hills. And then when he reaches the point which looks like paradise, he settles down. And as he sits down, he’s slumps. He realizes that his life is ebbing away; that he can go no further. And there’s a very connective scene between Maurice, his conciliary, throughout the three movies. They have a very special relationship. He’s this old orangutan who’s been such a devoted follower of Caesar. And he knows now that the life is ebbing away from Caesar’s eyes. And it was an incredible scene to play. In fact, we shot this halfway through the filming of War for the Planet of the Apes. So it was a very bizarre switch to go from all of the other activity in the prison sequences to go and shoot this on a set and to suddenly leap to the end of the movie.
And, in fact, what has ended up in the movie was the very, very final take. We’ve played it in lots of different ways, leaving it slightly more ambiguous as Caesar closes his eyes and we can sense that he’s drifting away. But in the very final take, we decided to have Caesar completely fold and cave and his body collapses and he rolls over and then he starts to slump. And then we literally see him passing and Maurice is there. It’s incredible this acting that Karin Konoval, who plays Maurice, is phenomenal in this scene as she’s totally bereft and weeps and mourns the loss of their great leader. Almost unbeknownst to the other apes. Matt Reeves’ choice for this moment was very interesting in that he wanted the excitement for all of the other apes to be, and the realization that they are now safe and that they’ve found their new promised land and the children are playing. And it’s this real kind of sense that they’ve arrived. And Caesar passes easily, because he knows he’s done his job and he can see that there is a real future for his kind. He passes and we’re left with the last image Caesar has, which is this place will forever be their new home .