Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes cast totally get why their characters are being compared to Elon Musk and Luke Skywalker

Kevin Durand as Proximus Caesar in Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes
(Image credit: 20th Century Studios)

It's always fascinating seeing what comparisons new film and TV characters garner, as the cast of Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes recently discovered. The latest instalment in the beloved sci-fi franchise is yet to hit the big screen, but intriguing parallels are already being thrown out into the world.

Take the character of Noa for example, the young ape who leads this next chapter. Earlier this year, Kingdom's director Wes Ball likened the protagonist to Star Wars hero Luke Skywalker and The Lord of the Rings lead Frodo Baggins, which is a comparison actor Owen Teague humbly understands. 

However, as he also admits in an interview with GamesRadar+ and the Inside Total Film podcast, it does set high expectations too: "I mean, it makes sense. Those stories that those characters have are very much a kind of rise to heroism and to saving their people, societies, or whatever. And that is exactly Noa’s story. I mean there’s pressure for sure but he [Ball] is absolutely right."

Whilst Teague's Noa has earned comparisons to legendary movie characters, actor Kevin Durand has been experiencing something very different with his villainous ape king Proximus Caesar, who has perhaps strangely been likened to tech billionaire Elon Musk! When we bring that up in our chat, Durand is quite simply delighted, as the businessman was actually someone the actor looked at for inspiration for his role. 

Elon Musk

(Image credit: Getty Images/Pool / Pool)

Laughing, Durand also explained that actually he's been mistaken for the Tesla CEO many times before: "That’s awesome! I mean even with the bonobo face, they compare me to Elon Musk… I get Elon Musk all the time actually, it’s very funny. People approach me with a look in their eye where I realize they are not meeting an actor that they like, it’s something bigger. But the fact that it comes through even when I’m an ape is fantastic! 

"I did look at really charismatic speakers - I watched [life coach] Tony Robbins quite a bit, Elon, Arnold Schwarzenegger doing like his governor speeches. Just these humans who without trying, you just have to watch them as they hold so much power and charisma. "

When it came to finding their characters, Teague and Durand found that improvisation was also a great help - whether that was during the "ape school" that they attended during rehearsals or on set whilst filming. It was during the former actually that Durand came up with his villain's chilling catchphrase, as he revealed: "Four weeks into ape school I was asked a question and I was so in the body, but I didn’t know what the voice was yet. All of a sudden I just went ‘what a wonderful day’ [as Proximus Caesar] and the voice started to come out. They were like 'wait a second', got their phones, and filmed me talking. Everything felt really organic through that process."

This then continued on set, where the cast were given much space and time to improvise, which would often heavily inform scenes. Durand continued: "My first day on set, in-between takes Owen was still in character and I could tell he was looking at me from a distance, inching closer, beckoning me. All of a sudden I went from 'oh my god I feel like such an idiot' to [makes ape sounds]. Proximus just came out and we were like [Teague and Durand then chat as apes].

"We ran off and improvised for like 45 minutes - and we'd do this all the time! BTS - not the Korean pop band but the behind the scenes team - would ask us when we were shooting that scene, but we were just improvising! However, through that stuff actually did come into the movie"

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 the team on whether we will see a film about Caesar's son one day, how he would like the current movies to build to the 1968 original, as well as what words of wisdom Andy Serkis and Matt Reeves gave them.

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.