Planet Of The Apes : Production Notes

Planet of the Apes (2001) PosterExecutive producer Ralph Winter worked closely with Zanuck to help bring to life Burton's vision. The film also features the work of some of today's most honored artists. Six-time Academy Awardİ winner Rick Baker (Men in Black (1997), Nutty Professor, the (1996) How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)) designed and created the special make-up, and the director of photography is Academy Awardİ winner Philippe Rousselot, AFC/ASC. (River Runs Through It, a (1992)).

Burton is also joined by several longtime collaborators, including Oscarİ-winning production designer Rick Heinrichs (Sleepy Hollow (1999)), Oscar-nominated costume designer Colleen Atwood (Sleepy Hollow (1999)), Grammyİ-winning composer Danny Elfman (Batman (1989)) and Chris Lebenzon, A. C. E. , who has edited all of Burton's films.

Industrial Light & Magic, which has garnered 14 Academy Awards for its breakthrough contributions on more than 120 films, created the special visual effects for PLANET OF THE APES.

"This is an incredible group of filmmakers, many of whom are Oscar winners," notes Winter. "This film is historic in terms of not only its scale but the talent that's been assembled in front of and behind the camera."

Planet Of The Apes (2001) PosterProduction designer Rick Heinrichs has been a friend of Burton's since college, and has worked on all of Burton's films. "Tim has a vision and sensibility that appeals to people on many different age levels," Heinrichs observes. "It's just been great being part of his films because they're all different from one another. He takes on a lot of risks and encourages us to do the same. "

Heinrichs believes that the denizens of the PLANET OF THE APES are "very fertile ground" for Burton. "He's always enjoyed the dichotomy of animal-human behavior. Think of the Penguin, Catwoman, even Batman. In the upside-down world of the ape planet, we do see a civilization. But the civilized behavior of the apes is a veneer - perhaps, to some extent, a comment on our own civilization and the animal nature barely beneath our surface. "

Burton's bold new world is decidedly non-terrestrial. "We're definitely not in Kansas anymore," declares screenwriter William Broyles Jr.. (Fox's Cast Away (2000) and Oscar-nominated co-writer of Apollo 13 (1995)). Broyles says Burton's PLANET OF THE APES presents "a sense of possibility and adventure. It speaks to the value of following your heart, of putting yourself on the line for what's important. "

Broyles adds that PLANET OF THE APES "makes us look at people who we think are across some deep divide - be it cultural, racial, intellectual, national or religious - and then look at those people in a different way. "

Lawrence Konner & Mark Rosenthal (Mighty Joe Young (1998) Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country) also contributed to the screenplay. Konner calls Burton's take on the material "existential, bizarre and fun. " Rosenthal adds, " It's a very particular vision - Tim Burton's - with a certain style and attitude."

A key element of Burton's vision is Rick Baker's make-up effects artistry. Baker has been a central element in the success of the six films for which he won Academy Awards: Burton's Ed Wood (1994), Men in Black (1997), Nutty Professor, the (1996), Harry and the Hendersons (1987), American Werewolf in London, An (1981) and How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000). His encounters with primates include Gorillas in the Mist (1998), and, earning two more Oscar nominations, Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes (1984) and Mighty Joe Young (1998).

"We wanted to keep it actor-driven and performance-based," says Burton, "so Rick Baker has devised the make-up effects, which we feel give the actors playing apes a lot of subtlety of expression. "

"I wanted to do this film based on the title and Tim Burton," says Baker. "The original probably inspired more people to become make-up artists than any other movie ever. I'm a make-up geek and an ape-geek so this is the ultimate film for me to do."

"The original film's make-up was great for the time," Baker continues, "but basically they had one sculpture - in gorilla, chimp and orangutan versions - which they duplicated for everyone. They all had the same slicked back hair and button noses. The teeth were in the mouth but you never saw them. I wanted to be sure our apes had lips that move so you can see the teeth. I think that seeing the teeth is very important to accept that they are speaking. In addition, I wanted each creature to be uniquely different. I like making them characters and bringing out the individual differences. "

Baker's unique and elaborate effects took hours to apply to principal cast members, including Paul Giamatti, Michael Clarke Duncan, Tim Roth and Helena Bonham Carter, all of whom play apes. Their typical day began at 2:00-3:00 a. m. , when they would arrive on location to undergo the three-four hour make-up process.

But the make-up application was just the beginning of a challenging day. "We had to drink a lot of water, because it got hot in those costumes," recalls Giamatti. Lunch break, usually a time of relaxation for cast and crew, was anything but that. "Lunch was a little depressing," says Giamatti, "because we had to look in a mirror when we ate, to avoid getting food all over our muzzles. And we had to eat with chopsticks to enable us to get the food back into our mouths. "

The Actors And Their Roles

On the set of Planet Of The Apes (2001)The sudden appearance on the ape planet of Captain Leo Davidson, alien to the present order and unaffected by its oppression, ultimately serves as heroic symbol to the enslaved and hunted humans, a challenge to the status quo and a catalyst for revolutionary social change.

Mark Wahlberg portrays Leo Davidson, his first action hero role. Wahlberg previously starred in such films as Perfect Storm, the (2000) Three Kings (1999) and Boogie Nights (1997) the latter marking his breakout performance.

"What I like about Mark is he's got a real gravity to him," says Tim Burton. "He's an anchor of strength and clarity. If you want the audience to see things through the eyes of your lead character, you want to feel like here's a human being that you can relate to, who sees the weirdness, the intensity of it all and is dealing with it. I thought Mark could pull that off. "

Wahlberg, a longtime Burton admirer, only needed to know that Burton was at the helm, before accepting the role. "I hadn't even read the script when I agreed to play the part," he recalls. "I met Tim for literally five minutes, and I was so impressed that I said I'd do anything he wanted."

Planet of the Apes (2001)"The only thing I was worried about was the possibility of having to wear a loincloth," Wahlberg adds with a smile. "Fortunately, that wasn't necessary. "

Shortly after crashing on the planet, Wahlberg's Leo finds himself running for his life along with dozens of other human beings, tracked down by fearsome apes on horseback, led by the captain of the ape army, Attar. Michael Clarke Duncan plays the magnificent silverback, who dedicated to his spiritual leader, Thade.

"Thade is crazy and wicked but he's my boss," says Duncan, an Oscar nominee for Green Mile, the (1999). "Whatever orders he gives me, I carry out with a vengeance because I'm in the army and my loyalty is unquestioning. "

The tyrannical Thade is played by Britain's Tim Roth, who was Oscar-nominated for his villainous role in Rob Roy (1995), his first studio feature. "Thade is definitely the villain of the piece," says Roth. "He represents a certain point of view in the ape culture, especially the aggressiveness of the species."

"He's a bit of a fascist. Thade doesn't like the human traits that are invading apedom. As a species, he finds them disgusting. They smell very strange. They don't groom. To him, they're monsters. As the head of the military, he's for wiping them out, getting rid of them. "

Planet of the Apes (2001)In a bit of Burton-esque irony, the director and screenwriters gave Thade an important human trait: He has strong feelings for Ari, played by Helena Bonham Carter, who was nominated for an Academy Award for her starring role in Wings of the Dove, the (1997). Even after five hours of primate make-up, the actress emerged as the most beautiful chimpanzee on the planet. Ari is passionate, independent-minded, and a human rights activist who believes in co-existence of all species.

Burton offered Bonham Carter the role without an audition. "He phoned me up and said, 'Don't take this the wrong way, but you are the first person that I thought of to play this chimp,'" she remembers. "And, I didn't take it wrongly at all. But I had to ask him why he thought of me? And Tim said, 'Well, you know, I just had this sort of hunch that you'd like to try something very different. ' It was so refreshing. "

Bonham Carter describes Ari as an "upper class chimp of liberal persuasion. She's basically a human rights activist and somebody who's disgusted with the way that humans are treated as slaves and pets. Ari has a strong belief that the humans are intelligent and have souls. These are all very modern and heretical ideas, you must understand, on her planet. "

Ari may be the ideal female - in any species. "In this ape society, humans are considered lower than dirt," Mark Wahlberg confirms. "So Leo is very lucky to meet Ari, who takes a liking to him and tries to help him survive. Ari is exactly the kind of woman that I would hope to meet on THIS planet. "

The orangutans are represented by an offbeat character called Limbo, played by the Paul Giamatti (Man on the Moon (2000), Private Parts (1997), Big Momma's House (2000)). A trader in humans for slaves and pets, Limbo ultimately finds himself on the run for his life and bonding with them. Richard D. Zanuck calls Limbo "kind of the Peter Lorre comic relief of this group. "

Planet of the Apes (2001)Giamatti admits that while he's played some sleazy characters in previous films, essaying an orangutan presented some special challenges. "I loved having the opportunity to do something as physically extreme and weird as this is - even the make-up made me feel more aggressive. Limbo is despised by both humans and apes. He's a con man and an opportunist who will sell anything to get by. But he's not a bad guy. Maybe misunderstood, but not really bad."

Among the humans rounded up and sold to Limbo are a rebellious young woman named Daena (Estella Warren) and her father Karubi (Kris Kristofferson). Kristofferson's Karubi is a noble human who's been beaten down by the rule of the apes.

Like his castmates, Kristofferson jumped at the chance to work with Burton. "Tim Burton's a hero in my house," says Kristofferson. "I've got eight kids and we've watched all his films many times - from Pee-Wee's Big Adventure (1985) to Sleepy Hollow (1999). Tim makes films that create a world you can really get lost in."

Planet Of The Apes (2001)Estella Warren says she plays the role of Kristofferson's warrior daughter Daena with "innocence and aggression," emboldened by the behavior of Leo, the alien human who looks apes in the eye and dares to challenge their supreme authority. "Then," she adds, "there's that great sexual tension that is just normal between two of the same species. "

PLANET OF THE APES' co-starring cast includes David Warner (Titanic (1997)), who plays Ari's father Sandar, a respected senator in the ape legislature; and Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa (Pearl Harbor (2001)) as Ari's faithful old gorilla servant, Krull. Other cast members include Evan Dexter Parke (Cider House Rules, the (1999)) as Gunnar, a rebellious human; Erick Avari (Mummy, the (1999)) as Tival, a human servant; and Luke Eberl (Phantoms (1998)) as an adolescent who hero-worships Leo.

Ape School

Planet Of The Apes - Movie PosterWhile many cast members credit Rick Baker's make-up magic in helping shape their performances, their simulations of ape behavior did not rest on the make-up alone.

At Burton's request, stunt coordinator Charlie Croughwell brought in experts, including stunt player Terry Notary (a former Cirque du Soliel performer) to teach the actors and extras how to be ape-like. Notary conducted a special "Ape School" for dozens of performers, to help them incorporate ape movement into their performances. Croughwell, Notary and their team covered every primate activity: walking, weapons handling, even eating.

"We needed to loosen up the actors to approximate real ape body language," Notary explains. "A primate is a very liquid animal; he spirals into a chair. Generally speaking, they are very direct and grounded. They're easily distracted but when they're focused on one thing, the focus is total. In essence, we had to teach actors how to find their own sense of being primal, to tap into their own inner ape. "

In addition, Notary and his team worked the actors in small groups and had them interact and prod each other, so they have to start building history together.

Planet of the Apes (2001)Prior to beginning work with the cast, Notary conducted some basic research . "I played with chimps for hours. I observed apes in the zoo for days and just pretended that they were humans in costume. You soon find yourself realizing how similar apes are to humans. We developed a series of basic movements and some that were species-specific. "

To represent his highly-evolved, semi-civilized speaking apes, Burton wanted performances that were about twenty percent ape and eighty percent human, which, says Notary, "is very subtle. Beyond the obvious walk, you must portray the nuances of an ape - like the way you turn your head, or sit, or pick something up - but you are also a fully developed character who speaks. "

Some actors, like Tim Roth, were eager students of ape behavior. "I like physical acting," says Roth, for whom Notary stunt doubled. "I like to push a character physically as well as intellectually. Ape School gave me a behavioral dictionary for Thade, who often goes berserk. Terry watched my performance to make sure no movement was 'too human,' and I watched his stunts and coached his work to make sure it's truly in character. We had a good back and forth thing. "

Planet of the Apes (2001)Helena Bonham Carter had a little trouble, initially, with the Ape School curriculum. "I flunked," she confesses. "I had to go back and learn how to be still. I had to learn an economy of movement, but to be immensely focused. To stop intellectualizing and instead make everything physical and be present and alive in the moment, which is completely ape-like."

"Apes are more sensual and tactile than we are. They've got a much better sense of smell, and their intuition is much greater. But their focus is absolutely one hundred percent, which is very useful for me as a human being."

"Actually," she concludes, "it wouldn't be a bad idea if everyone went to Ape School. "

Planet of the Apes (2001)Michael Clarke Duncan spent three days a week at Ape School and three days a week horseback riding. "As a Silverback gorilla, I walk differently than Thade, who is a chimpanzee. His legs are more bowlegged; mine have slightly-bent knees, but with an upright back, leaning forward with rounded shoulders. "

Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, who plays another silverback gorilla Krull, brought a lifetime of training as a martial artist to the role. Tagawa focused on being a gorilla that represented 600 pounds of pure power. "Apes move with the grace of a quadruped, and can stop on a dime," Tagawa notes. "They are mostly upper body, so when they walk they propel themselves pulling themselves forward - apes are definitely front-wheel drive. For the horseback riding, I had to remember apes have short legs so I rode high like a jockey. "

Paul Giamatti dubbed Ape School "Simian Academy - just because it sounded a little classier than Ape School," he jokes. "My posture works very good for an orangutan because I slump naturally. But I learned many specifics for an orangutan, such as how they like to hang from things and lay down a lot. They have a big sac of skin around their neck and they fill it with air and make this really weird loud honking sound. Doing that was fun. "

Planet Of The Apes (2001)Charlie Croughwell auditioned hundreds of stuntmen to come up with an elite contingent, many of them former gymnasts, to play ape army soldiers. Croughwell also enlisted several ex-Marines to rehearse and "motivate" civilian extras whom the production had also "drafted" into the highly-organized army of apes.

Second unit director Andy Armstrong acknowledges that PLANET OF THE APES will not look like a conventional action movie. Instead, he says, it encompasses action elements into a Tim Burton movie. "It always comes back to Tim and his conception of the ape characters," Armstrong states. "They have six times the strength of a man, tremendous acceleration, and huge impulsive speed. We see apes on two legs most of the time, but when they get panicky, scared or aggressive, they revert back to being quadruped. We called that 'loping,' a quadruped movement that has the apes on all fours, coming after their prey like a tank on legs. "

The loping and other aggressive simian traits left their imprint on Mark Wahlberg, who often found himself being slammed into the ground by three hundred pound apes. "You really feel like you're on another planet when you're out there in the desert being chased by all these apes," he points out. "I was beat up more in this movie than any other I've done. "

Wahlberg was not the only human who gets physical in the film. Estella Warren did much of her own stunt work because, well, she could. Warren, a Canadian national champion synchronized swimmer and world bronze medalist, impressed the filmmakers when she volunteered to ride a horse across a freezing lagoon, for an escape scene. "Even though I grew up riding horses, that scene really got my adrenaline pumping," she remembers.

Being thrown on the ground by vicious apes was all in a day's work for the actress, who identified with her character's resiliency. "Daena doesn't go down easily," Warren explains. "She's very proactive and a bit of an action hero herself. "

Planet of the Apes (2001)Even Tim Burton joined in on the action, impressing all with his physicality and frequent enactments of the action and stunts he wanted. Helena Bonham Carter says, "Tim was full of motion - his hair flying, hands flailing. His body doesn't know where he'll put it next. He's utterly unaware of himself physically. Zooms around like a kamikaze. He's all intuition, instinct, heart and feeling. "

Tim Roth agrees. "I watched Tim trip over, fall down, bash his head, bruise his elbows and his knees on a daily basis. You could almost put bets on which part of his anatomy he would damage on a given day. We were all there because of Tim. He is extraordinarily loved and respected by all of us. "

Production Design / Locations

Planet of the Apes (2001)What does a planet of apes look like? According to production designer Rick Heinrichs, it contains forests, jungles and a primordial world that would have a sense of both old and new worlds. "We wanted our locations and sets to have a duality of being both animalistic and civilized, which are not necessarily harmonious," he notes.

Leo Davidson's introduction to this world is a violent one. After crash landing on the planet, he suddenly is thrust into a harsh, physical landscape - an environment of total chaos that provides a stark contrast to his spaceship's controlled environment.

The filmmakers scouted locations around the world for the proper jungle bog. Eventually, creative concerns necessitated building the jungle near downtown Los Angeles - inside the sound stages of L. A. Center Studios. "We looked at some wonderful rainforests in Hawaii," Heinrichs remembers. "But we learned it would be difficult in that environment to get the kind of depth we needed. We also needed something that was more like a 'machine' for the action - a set in which we could move around trees and other objects to accommodate the stunts and action. It became clear that what we needed was the sense of the jungle, not the literalness of the jungle. "

Other, more exotic locations were also within relatively easy reach. The production filmed key scenes on the Big Island of Hawaii, on the stark lava fields of the still-active volcano, Mt. Kilauea. Heinrichs points out that the contrasting jungle and lava environments provide "a primordial feel, presenting a tableau that is almost earth-like and familiar; yet we sense that this is a new planet with vast stretches of no-man's land terrain. "

Lake Powell, Arizona, was another key location - and also served as a subtle homage to the 1968 "Planet of the Apes," which filmed key scenes there. Burton and Heinrichs chose a Lake Powell beach called Independence Bay, located several miles from the original film's locales, for night scenes set at an ape army encampment.

Daytime found Mark Wahlberg and others climbing the area's massive age-old cliffs, which were punctuated with ominous effigies of apes. "Independence Bay is not quite like any other area at Lake Powell," says Heinrichs. "But it is, like the lava fields, another desolate, otherworldly landscape, alien but very beautiful, muscular and sculptural. "

The Trona Pinnacles, located in the high California desert near Death Valley, is a unique geological site (and national landmark) that served as yet another location that enhanced the film's otherworldly feel.

Between 10,000 and 100,000 years ago, when the area was a chain of interconnected lakes, the Trona Pinnacles formed underwater through the interaction of blue-green algae and chemical, geothermal conditions. Calcium carbonate formations developed in a reef-like fashion with more than 500 spires of tufa, some as high as 140 feet, rising from what is now the bed of the Searles Dry Lake basin. The decayed structure of spires in the vast desert expanse served as the setting for a battle between the newly revolutionized humans and the all-powerful ape army.

Planet of the Apes (2001)Heinrichs returned to a more controlled environment to create and build a civilization from scratch. The production constructed the interior of "Ape City" on an enormous sound stage, whose every square inch was filled with a thoroughly imagined habitat to support the living, working life of the ape civilization. Here, the apes sleep, eat, raise families, play politics, wheel and deal their economy, entertain, gossip and play out all of their intrigues.

Heinrichs designed the city to reflect a struggle between nature and architecture. Vines entangled massive stone outcroppings, into which the filmmakers carved dwellings and shops adorned with bright tapestries. Towering cliffs overlooked narrow streets and wide public spaces, and winding concrete staircases led to the wooden jails holding human slaves.

Planet Of The Apes (2001) PosterHeinrichs faced daunting challenges in building this massive, detailed and fantastical jungle enclave on a stage. "We did not want Ape City to feel like a boxed-in environment," he explains. Visual effects that were added later helped add scale, but the filmmakers also relied on lighting and composition to create the sense of a large exterior setting. "Again, we wanted to make a set feel like a great machine that would further Tim Burton's visual story - and, when necessary, get out of the way of the action. "

Ape City originally existed as a Styrofoam model, which Burton and Heinrichs constantly refined. The actual set, comprised of wood, steel, foam, plaster and cement, took over four months to build - representing the work of over 100 crew members, including carpenters, plasterers, sculptors, painters, laborers and greensmen.

Famed special effects house Industrial Light & Magic created environmental enhancements to extend Ape City and other areas of Tim Burton's ape world. In addition to digital set extensions, ILM used crowd replication, matte paintings, motion control models, computer graphic spaceships, and miniature sets and pyrotechnics. Visual effects supervisor Bill George and visual effects co-supervisor George Murphy headed up the ILM team. The film's visual effects producer is Tom C. Peitzman.

Costume Design

Planet Of The Apes (2001)Costume designer Colleen Atwood created and oversaw the manufacturing of over one thousand costumes used in PLANET OF THE APES. Atwood's team of sculptors, mold-makers, cutters and fitters began work a scant four months prior to start of production.

Like many of Tim Burton's frequent collaborators, Atwood shares a kind of visual shorthand with the director. "I know Tim's work as an artist, so I'm aware of his likes and dislikes," she states. "After working with him on four films, he now can just give me a general impression of what he feels, some loose ideas about shape and color, and I go from there. "

Atwood, like the film's other key creative personnel, was mindful of Burton's vision of the ape lifestyle and movements. "We designed clothes that would be easy for apes to get on and off, especially to accommodate their newly-learned lessons from Ape School. This resulted in asymmetrical designs for many of the ape costumes."

Planet Of The Apes (2001)Atwood's designs further evolved to accommodate the actors' personalities. "Tim Roth brought such a wonderful strength to the character of Thade, and we wanted his costume to reflect that," she explains. "So his costume gives his body an almost spider-like, powerful appearance. " Atwood also designed Thade's helmet to be longer than the other ape headgear, to set him apart from the battalions of ape soldiers he leads into battle against the humans.

Thade's friend and captain of the ape army, Attar, played by the physically imposing Michael Clarke Duncan, also required some special work from Atwood. "Dressing Michael was like dressing the Chrysler Building," she laughs. "We made his costume very sculptural, almost like an architectural concept. " Atwood dressed Attar in black with silver, while most of the other apes wore red.

Dressing the humans presented Atwood with different challenges. "They're subservient to the apes and living in a hostile environment," Atwood explains.

Atwood worked closely with assistant costume designer Jane Clive to create a special fabric that would lend a reptilian feel to the human clothing. "It was sort of a three-dimensional material," she explains. The costume makers painted several layers of different colors on the outfit, basing the patterns for the silk screen design on aerial views of parched land and animal skin.

For Leo's costume, Atwood went in an unexpected direction. "We didn't want Mark Wahlberg in a loincloth," Atwood says. Instead, he wears a distressed version of his military uniform, burned by his fiery and physical introduction to the ape world. His 21st century outfit blends right in with the humans' primitive garb

The Music

Burton's work with Danny Elfman takes "collaborative shorthand" to a new level, at least during the project's nascent stages. "I got a call from Tim's office, requesting a meeting," Elfman remembers. "I had read in the trades that he was going to direct PLANET OF THE APES, so I had a pretty good idea what he wanted to discuss. But I never heard from him. "

Planet Of The Apes - Movie PosterAfter this cycle repeated, Elfman ran into Burton - on a plane to New York. "Finally, about half way into the flight, I turned around and asked him, 'Well, do you want to talk with me?' Tim answered: 'I'm making a movie based on 'Planet of the Apes.' When I asked him what about it interested him, he thought a moment and replied, 'There's something about the way they move. ' And I saw the flicker in Tim's eye, and that was it. That was the whole conversation. And that was all he needed to say. "

Elfman and Burton did not speak again about the film until it was well into production. Even then, the director communicated his thoughts about the score in a unusual way. "Tim deals with his films on an emotional and visceral level, rather than a specific, intellectual manner. I tend to work the same way, so that works out very well. "

Burton did make it clear that he wanted a thematic and melodic score. "The score is extremely muscular and actually a little old-fashioned, in terms of its 'good vs. evil"