Gary Oldman talks Planet of the Apes and his acting career
When Gary Oldman's name is attached to franchises like Batman or Planet of the Apes, they are instantly that much better. That's the kind of power Oldman has. He's a universally loved actor and provides the kind of depth and (despite playing villains) empathy that we look for in our movie characters. Oldman joining DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES is a most welcome decision, although he has a much more realist view on his acting. Recently he spoke with Playboy about DAWN, as well as some other characters he's portrayed over the years. It's a fantastic read, and you should check it out here when you get a couple of minutes. I did, however, pull some of his insight into Dawn for you, as well as what he thinks of his roles to date.
Why he wanted to take part in DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES:
I love the franchise. I was a fan, as we all were, of the original films. I thought the script was very good. Big paydays come my way and I go, “Would I want to be part of that? No, thank you.” This one had a pedigree.
What it was like working with the "apes" on set:
Well, it’s hard being around the apes, because they’re basically just actors in weird diving suits with dots on their faces and cameras on their heads. Their mannerisms and facial expressions were ape-like, which was fun to watch. But the finished look comes later, through rendering and special effects. When I did DRACULA and HANNIBAL I spent hours each morning having the makeup glued and strapped to my face. On DRACULA the hair alone was a major tribulation. But making DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES I had no idea what my co-stars actually looked like. I mean, Charlton Heston was filming with the apes. I used to love those behind-the-scenes pictures where you’d see an ape with a great big cigarette holder or a bottle of Coca-Cola in his hand—that old-time movie magic. It’s not like that now.
Where the story picks up from RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES:
We are 10 or 15 years on from the last movie. The simian flu has pretty much taken care of the world’s population except those who were immune to it. Those who did survive are facing chaos and complete societal breakdown. It’s apocalyptic. I’m a designated leader in the small community of humans trying to reestablish some kind of order to life as it was, having experienced my own personal tragedy in it. It’s a fragile peace between man and ape, and my character is hoping the two factions can co-exist. It’s like putting life back together after Hiroshima or something.
In regards to being considered one of the world's greatest actors:
It’s all so subjective, you know? I guess I shouldn’t complain. I’ve learned over the years that people get upset when they tell you something is their favorite movie and you go, “Really? You liked that piece of shit?” Most of my work I would just stomp into the ground and start over again.
I’m 56 now, and if you’ve managed to work as long as I have, you understand that these roles everyone fusses over are your career; they’re not your life. It’s just a job, really. You have financial responsibilities, you have children, you have all those things all the regular people have. Honestly, I forget I’m an actor until I’m reminded.
My father had a subscription to Playboy magazine many years ago and when I asked him why (especially in this day and age), he would respond with the answer that was always the popular excuse; the articles. When I actually took the time to read through them, I was surprised to find insightful material, and some really great interviews as well. Also, there were boobs.
DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES will be released July 11, 2014.
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