Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes cast and director reveal most important piece of advice "franchise godfathers" Andy Serkis and Matt Reeves gave them

andy serkis
(Image credit: Getty Images)

For Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes, the latest movie in the long-running sci-fi series, star Andy Serkis and director Matt Reeves passed the baton on to a new team. The former portrayed protagonist Caesar in the most recent trilogy which started with 2011's Rise of the Planet of the Apes, whilst filmmaker Reeves helmed the last two films - 2014's Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and 2017's War for the Planet of the Apes.

However, whilst the duo did hand the reins of the franchise over to a new cast and director, they still had roles to play as consultants, offering treasured words of wisdom to the new filmmaking team. For instance, Serkis worked with Kingdom's lead actor Owen Teague, who portrays a new young ape named Noa, helping him transform into the monkey who is at the forefront of this new chapter. 

However, as Teague revealed in conversation with GamesRadar+ and the Inside Total Film podcast, Serkis told him that the trick to this was to treat the role like any other character, not as an ape: "The first time that me and him spoke, he helped me remove a little bit of the pressure from the fact that I was playing an ape - that’s his biggest piece of advice with performance capture, you are still just playing a character. It's not actually that different from normal live action work - you are moving and speaking differently, but you still do all the same stuff that you do with every other character. That is what he stressed to me, which was crucial to keep in mind."

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes

(Image credit: 20th Century Studios)

Serkis shared similar advice with Kingdom's director Wes Ball, who dubs the Caesar actor one of the "godfathers of the franchise". As well as being present to help the filmmaker on occasions where they may have been "steering off course", Serkis also spoke with the director about his team of actors, emphasizing that you can't ask them to "pretend to be an ape".

Ball continued: "His big thing was on the actor front - that you can't pretend to be an ape. You know, as soon as you do that, it's going to be fake. And so, we had to spend a lot of time working on that so it became like instinct, where they could just kind of fall into that place and behave like apes. So, they weren't thinking about it, they could just focus on good performance, just being there and present, and real and honest in the scenes, then trusting that the process will translate all those choices that they make on set with all these crazy dots on their face over to the CG version of themselves, through the amazing work that WETA do [the special effects company behind the Apes movies]."

And it wasn't just Serkis who was on hand to help, as Ball also met Reeves for dinner shortly after signing on for the film too. Interestingly, the two already knew each other from a previous project, the cancelled animated fantasy movie Mouse Guard (which would also star Serkis), with Ball revealing that the time they spent together working on that film actually helped inform Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes.

As he explained to us, Reeves was also the one who gave Ball the confidence to tackle Apes: "Matt gave me all this wisdom whilst we were working on Mouse Guard which was going to be this big motion-capture thing - he would tell me all the things that he learnt on Apes. Little did I know that that would come in useful! And we had dinner right before he went off to make The Batman where I told him about this thing, what I was thinking. He was very kind and supportive of the direction we were going, which made us feel positive to move forward to make this crazy thing."

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes releases in cinemas on May 9 in the UK and May 10 in the US. For more from our interviews, here's Ball on whether we will see a film about Caesar's son one day and how he would like the current films to build to the 1968 original.

And to stay up to date with the most exciting films heading your way, check our our guide to the upcoming movies of 2024.

Emily Murray
Entertainment Editor

As Entertainment Editor at GamesRadar, I oversee all the online content for Total Film and SFX magazine. Previously I've worked for the BBC, Zavvi, UNILAD, Yahoo, Digital Spy and more.