Whether it was snogging beautiful Helena Bonham Carter in an ape suit or kissing gorgeous 22 year-old Chanel model, Estelle Warren - in very little at all - it was a tough job but someone had to do it. It might as well have been the former rapper and Calvin Klein underwear model who turns 30 in June.
"He's very generous as an actor, giving me little hints," says newcomer Estelle, who stars as a fellow human in the $100 million Tim Burton extravaganza. "No ego, which surprised me, because he's such a big star. He's remade himself over and over again, and we talked about that. "Plus, he makes me laugh all the time on the set. I had a full-on giggle fit before our kissing scene. "
In the remake - or "revisiting" as the producers insist on calling it - Wahlberg plays the Charlton Heston role as the astronaut who takes a wrong turn. Tim Roth plays the ambitious ape general who loathes him.
Helena Bonham Carter is the sympathetic chimp who loves him. Michael Clarke Duncan (best known for 'The Green Mile') is a silvery gorilla soldier.
And Heston himself has a cameo - as a chimpanzee.
"I remade both 'The Ten Commandments' and 'Ben Hur,' so there's no law against remakes," says Heston, who appears to bear no grudge against
Wahlberg stealing one of his most celebrated roles. "It's indicative of the popularity with audiences the original film had, and you'd have to say the same thing about 'Planet of the Apes (2001). ' It's a compliment. " Wahlberg actually won the role from first choice Matt Damon who was unavailable at the last minute. It's just the latest triumph for Wahlberg who has come a long way from his days as a teenage thug in Boston.
He pleasantly surprised audiences with his acclaimed,
prosthetically-enhanced performance as porn star Dirk Diggler in Boogie Nights (1997) and has kept busy with his film career ever since, most recently starring in Three Kings (1999) and Perfect Storm, The (2000) alongside his very good pal, George Clooney.
He also stars in Rock Star (2001), a film produced by Clooney, and co-starring Jennifer Aniston, with whom he was rumoured to have had an off-screen affair. On-screen, however, was a different story, and test audiences reported they saw little chemistry between the two, resulting in much of Aniston's part being left on the cutting room floor. Interestingly enough for a man who played a porn star, Walhberg's love scenes in Planet Of The Apes (2001) were also cut - not the ones with his photogenic co-star, Estelle Warren, but with Bonham Carter in her ape suit.
Director Tim Burton had written a bedroom scene which was to have taken place in the Forbidden Zone, where Wahlberg's character seeks refuge from his primate pursuers.
But nervous studio executives who wanted the film to be a family affair were concerned that the scene bordered on bestiality and axed the footage from the finished film.
Q: So, did you enjoy getting close to [Helena Bonham Carter?]
A: Well I always wanted to make out with her. And we did make out - which was very interesting. I'd hoped we were going to push the boundaries out a little bit and actually have sex!
Q: So what's it like actually like to smooch with a simian?
Q: The apes seem a lot more real than in the 1968 original, don't they?
A: I almost had a heart attack the first day of shooting. We were standing on a hill, and I was looking down at my feet, and next to me I saw these big furry toes hanging out of these sandals. I looked up and there was this huge gorilla smiling at me. I had to run to the monitor and sit with Tim Burton until I calmed down.
Q: Your apes co-stars had a longer day than you - with a 2. 30am make-up call. Did you ever tease them about it?
A: I started to give them a hard time, but it wasn't worth it, especially with Michael Clarke Duncan, who's 6'5", 315 lbs. You don't wanna mess with him.
Q: Did you have any reservations stepping into a role that [Charlton Heston created - especially since he was on the set?]
A: Charlton Heston is a hard act to follow, even after playing Dirk Diggler. But I told Tim, 'I'll do anything you want me to do, as long as I don't have to put on a loincloth. ' The last thing I wanted was to wear a loincloth. It would have been hard for me to walk out of my trailer with that thing on.
[Q: At last year's MTV Movie Awards you sort of insulted Heston when you ad-libbed: "Let's give [the Best Villain trophy] to Charlton Heston for being the head of the NRA. " How did Mr.Heston deal with that when you met him?]
A: Charlton's got a great sense of humour. And actually, my buddy George Clooney put me up to that.
Q: You actually took the part without even reading the script. Why?
A: Tim's just one of those guys you know is going to do something interesting. Normally it would be really scary signing to a film without seeing the script. But it's Tim Burton. And I think if you have an opportunity to work with him, no matter what you're doing, you do it. It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. He's always done so many amazing things. So I would have been foolish to pass up the opportunity.
Q: Didn't you want to play an ape when you first heard about the film?
A: At my first meeting with Tim, I did say, 'What kind of ape do you want me to play?', and Tim said, 'You're the human'. People tell me I'm pretty simian, but Tim is the kind of guy where I just say yes to anything he wants me to do.
Q: You have had a lot of success in Hollywood so quickly. Do you ever wonder what you did right?
A: I'm probably more surprised than most people that I've been able to achieve as much as I have in such a short time. When I first started acting, I thought it was impossible for me to attain this much respect and success in my lifetime, let alone six years. I look in the mirror sometimes and wonder how the hell I did it. But I don't try to analyse.
Q: Do you squirm when you think of some of the things you did before you started making movies?
A: There's a couple of things in there I'd like to forget. But, it's interesting, I've done a lot of things, and I've done things and accomplished things that a lot of people didn't expect.
Q: What would you like to forget?
A: Oh, just being in my underwear all the time. You know, my mom still gives me a hard time about it. She says whatever she can to make me feel uncomfortable. She usually does it in front of people that don't know too much about it.
Q: When you were 17, you were watching your brother Donnie shoot to the top of the charts with the New Kids On The Block. Looking back, do you think not making it as a New Kid was the best thing that could have ever happened to you?
A: I don't think I would be in the same position had I gone to the vocal lessons and busted a move with Joe McIntyre. I definitely feel like I made the right decision. Of course, when you're 17 years old and
dragging your ass to see your parole officer and your brother just topped the Forbes biggest oneymakers list with the group you were the first member of, it's a little hard to stomach.
Q: You've been dating 20 year-old actress Jordana Brewster for a couple of years now. Are you feeling settled down with her?
A: I have some problems with commitment, or else you'd see me married with children.
Q: Would you say you are more interested in a woman for her body or her mind?
A: When I meet a woman, I'm not interested in her if she has great taste in the arts or a good sense of humour. I just notice whether or not she's got great breasts.
Q: Would you rather be known for your body or your mind?
A: Mind. Because the body comes, the body goes.
Q: How did you feel about the rumours that you broke up [Matt Damon's relationship with Winona Ryder last year?]
A: The Winona rumour was really ridiculous. I did not break up her relationship with Matt Damon. I've met Matt. He's a really nice guy. Winona and I had met a few times to talk about doing a movie together. The project never materialized. That's all there ever was to that.
Q: Then, on the set of [Rock Star (2001), there were reports of a steamy, secret off-screen romance between you and Jennifer Aniston].
A: Yeah. My mom read the stories and called me. She was furious. She told me to leave that nice Brad Pitt's girl alone. I couldn't believe my mom bought that nonsense. I consider Brad a good friend. I'd never do something like that to him. Besides, I have my own girlfriend. I don't need to steal anyone else's girl.
Q: Would you rather be taller or smarter?
Q: Would you rather be funnier or richer?
A: Richer. I'm funny enough. I crack myself up all the time.
Q: Boxers or briefs?
A: Boxers. Except for today. I have briefs on. But I just ran out of clean boxers.
Q: Do you have any further ambitions outside of music, modelling or acting?
A: I want to be a professional athlete. I don't think it's going to happen, but, yeah, I still have hoop dreams and would like to be heavyweight champ some day.
Q: Finally, Mark, what's next for you?
A: I have a full-time job making myself a better person, using my real-life experiences to my advantage.