Methuselah Movie - Tom Cruise

I’m curious about casting Woody Harrelson. Was that like a wide net to find the bad guy human or did you kind of come up with his name on the spot when you were thinking of him?

Clark: You know, we did when we were writing the script, we thought he would be cool. You know, just he’s just a great actor. He’s got, I hate all these words, but he’s got a serious weight to him. But he can play very tough. He’s the antagonist of the movie. Bad guy’s probably selling him a little bit short. He’s the antagonist ’cause he’s against Caesar and what Caesar’s trying to accomplish.

Woody was a name we always really liked. We thought, you just start to put people, you write the script and talk about it. You look at it, you’re like who, you hope to have a quality actor. You don’t wanna have to go stunt casting. You want somebody that can really do it.

That’s why again, I love working on these movies. Fox has been great. Typically when you make a big tentpole movie like the one we made last time, and Jason Clarke who’s my friend, Jason Clarke is not Tom Cruise or he’s not Denzel Washington. So but we said, we really love Jason in Zero Dark Thirty and they said, we did too. And we said, we really would like to put him as kind of our human lead. And they were like that’s cool. Not like you gotta go get Tom Cruise, who’s great too, but if we had Tom Cruise show up in this movie, you guys would be like what?

It’s Tom Cruise.

Clark: It’s a little bit like that. Although Cruise is a, I produced Oblivion. He’s a friend and he loves these movies. So he’s always like emailing me, I wanna play an ape or you know I have this, always messing with me. Like I figured it out, I’m gonna be this ape in the next movie. He’s funny.

Did the decision to shoot on 65 play into this Western kind of vibe?

Clark: Let me just, let me run down exactly like it’s Western yes, but really always we’re going for epic. I referenced David Lean before. I’m not sure you would consider him a western director. Look some of these images I’m gonna show you some, you may like I’ve showed some people, friends or press, and they go wow, this feels like you’re designing a new world. It doesn’t feel like Lord of the Rings, but I’ll compare it to Lord of the Rings and again, like I love the what the people bring to me. Like that interpretation’s pretty cool.

And what I like about that is he built an entire world. [PeterJackson built for those Rings movies an entire world. We’re not doing Lord of the Rings, that would be a little bit odd here. But we’re building a world. And to answer your question, 65, that format we just, that wide angle format, we thought that would capture it. We look, we always, we don’t like to be stage bound. We like to be in exterior places with big, the benefits of making a movie is that we can get high and wide. I don’t have to do tight coverage. We, Matt wants to get you some big stuff. We also have The Revenant over the break and we all fell over. Like just incredible filmmaking. So thank God we did 65. Chivo [Emmanuel Lubezki] used 65 for a couple of those sequences and they look beautiful. It’s just stunning.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes by JC Richard

With regard to discussion of genre, I’d say the first movie had more of a sci-fi bent. I mean, this is a science fiction series overall, but would you say there is a like sort of influence on this movie or is it kind of more pushed back?

Clark: I always believe that we are sci-fi. And I think sci-fi has changed throughout the era. Certainly, as we were talking about before, you could do sci-fi to really mess with your head. I mean, look there was a guy who wrote The Twilight Zone, writing the original Planet of the Apes. Like it was meant to mess with you. An allegory was a bigger thing then. Or like a more direct thing then. Cinema then.

This is sci-fi. It is. How sci-fi do we get? It’s grounded. And I think that’s, you know, people have called it science fact. Did they try to cure Alzheimer’s the way we showed? No. But could that, is that in the zone? Yes. We talked to scientists. We talked to people who are developing drugs. Virus-based blood barrier kinds of mechanisms are being developed. So it’s in the vernacular. We just put it together in ways that can only happen in a movie. But we tried, we always try to ground it. But just kind of the what if is always the great question in these movies. That’s sci-fi. And certainly present in this movie. So that should continue.

You know, look, Caesar says the great line in the last movie that Matt came up with. He’s sitting there talking to his son after he’s realized what Koba did. The duplicity of Koba. And he says, I didn’t know how much like them we are. Like we turned it on its head. And it’s like that’s a big sci-fi idea. That’s cool. There’s some things in this movie that are like that as well.

It’s refreshing. I’ve talked to so many producers who shy away from that sci-fi angle.

Clark: Yeah, I mean, again–

We can’t tell you the number of roundtables we’ve been in where actors and filmmakers are ashamed of the word science-fiction.

Clark: No, I know that. And it’s unfortunate. I get it. Look, unfortunately there’s this perception that sci-fi is not commercial. It’s simply not true.

Children of Men

As the top 10 movies of all time–

Clark: Correct. 100 percent correct. What you can say though is there was a string of sci-fi movies that didn’t work. And maybe they pushed it too far or maybe they were too challenging. They were probably too, like for instance, when I was a studio executive, I happened to have the fortune of overseeing the movie, Children of Men. Science Fiction. P.D. James. Alfonso Cuaron. Chivo who just shot this amazing movie. Brilliant. Unfortunately it was a money loser. And one of those things. And a lot of people thought it was because it was sci-fi. It was too dark. It was dystopian. It was too challenging. It just was, we made it for too much money. And it didn’t catch on. These things happen. But that movie done at a different time period or with less money, like that movie stands the test of time.

Is it a money loser over the long like still to this day?

Clark: I don’t talk to the accountants at Universal. Because my deal is there now and I don’t like to remind them of that. But I believe–

My theory is that when you make something that’s that good that it’s like a long-term investment.

Clark: I think that’s a good theory. And as a producer, I agree with your theory. And the practical realities are look, studios have a tough job. They’re bankrolling, these movies cost too much money. They do. It’s crazy. These are big bets. And in order to make these big bets, unfortunately sci-fi got a bad knock and so people started getting away from that and code words about… So they started doing something else. They started subverting the sci-fi genre. We weren’t subverting it. We inherited Planet of the Apes. It is a sci-fi premise. It’s a sci-fi thing and that’s what we’re doing. We’re not leading with the craziness. We are giving the audience this emotional connection to the characters that’s not I think typical in science fiction. Maybe. Maybe that’s atypical. I don’t know.

The literature…

Clark: No, that’s well literature too like that’s another thing like people read sci-fi like crazy amounts. So you have big, big audiences out there that wanna consume this thing. It’s just tricky to do. But as you said, it, when you do it right, they come, they love you for it. More than anything.

David Bowie in Labyrinth

Bowie’s greatest album. Arguably the greatest album of all time, Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. It’s like I will never understand why people are ashamed of science fiction.

Clark: They’re afraid of it. I think it’s the most challenging and I think they haven’t quite figured out how to do it in a populist way. Look, the truth is like most people are comfortable with pop radio. And not Ziggy Stardust. ‘Cause those are outliers. Like every now and then you get this person that does that’s Bowie and they kill it and you’re like thank God, because I can’t listen to any more Rihanna. But I like Rihanna because in the pop artist world, she’s pretty good. But there’s like 20 others that people listen to constantly. My unfortunate sons. And I’m always like how can you listen to this shit, guys? But they like it ’cause it’s pop radio. So a lot of like and I always, you know, making movies is a lot like music to me, right? And you’re trying to give them Bowie, but Bowie’s hard to find. But right underneath that like pick whoever you think your best pop artist is but that’s what you really are trying to do. Because it is a commercial endeavor. The job is to get butts in the seats and be entertained and be moved. And then hopefully go oh you know what and it was better than that. Song that sounded like that other song that sounded like the song last year. And that’s where like again, is Adele my favorite act? No, but is Adele at the top of the pop artists? Yeah. ‘Cause she’s doing some original stuff. But is she David Bowie?

Nobody’s David Bowie.

[Clark begins to show us concept art on his laptop]

Clark: Why don’t you guys huddle around me? We’re gonna do it poor man style. Okay, so as I said, these are this is key art, guys. This doesn’t necessarily mean this is not a shot in the movie. This is just a design. And this is the opening battle. You have some guys in military fatigues and you see some apes. What side are the apes on? I don’t want you to write about that. That looks like a big explosion. That looks like apes flying in the air. I wish I had that shot. I don’t think I do. You got apes on horses throwing that back down at them. You got Caesar walking through what looks like a pretty badass ape structure which is cool. After that, this movie, I’ll give you a little secret, this movie we call it Hidden Fortress, because the humans have been after Caesar for some time. And as I said to you, it was very important digitally for Matt to start you guys out, start the audience out in a world that looks very familiar and then take you into a different world. The Hidden Fortress, because the apes survival depends on it, is through practical tunnels in Othello that we shot beautiful, beautiful, and then we CGI’d this waterfall. And behind that resides this kind of thing.

Is that the all C.G. location?

Clark:  It is. That is a digital set. This is after apes getting killed, this is the stuff that weighs on Caesar. Beautiful, we shot up at Allowen Lake. Just a–

Like a Viking funeral?

Clark: Well I don’t know. See the movie first. Going past the remnants of the world. Coca-Cola, everybody knows. Oyster Farm, this is where he picks up somebody. This we shot out in Tofina.

You know, it’s rare that the movie looks better than the concept art.

Clark:  Oh come on. When that’s rendered and that’s Caesar and the gang. I mean, we got a ton of that stuff. So we got that going for us. We got some of this stuff. We got some of that. We got, I don’t know what that is. We got it. We got that dude. Or he’s a ghost. Again, I can’t tell–

That’s not Steve Zahn?

Clark: That is absolutely not Steve Zahn. We got, okay, we got this. We got, we’re up in the snow as I told you on horses. We got an ice chalet, Doctor Zhivago. We got Steve Zahn. We got somehow this tree is growing. In the snow. But you guys better not call bullshit on that one, ’cause I happen to like a gorilla giving a little girl a flower. Right? Look at that. We got that. We got this shit. We got that shit. Here. We got some really crazy, look at this. Bang, bang, bang, bang. Bang. Here’s the thing, are the apes gonna win? I hope so. I do. I feel like–

Well if you have apes on both sides…

Clark:  No, it’s not like that. Again, and I really like as the last movie, there was a conflict. Some saw Caesar weak. Some saw Koba strong. Small percentage. Most people, most apes in particular aren’t gonna leave Caesar. He’s too good. So and in this movie, a lot of it is his choice because of the, you know, he’s the… The thing I love about the character, he’s the leader you want in this world. You want these leaders in every country to be acknowledging the truth and it’s just and so it feels very real. He feels pain. He’s emotional. And he’s flawed. He’s killed Koba in the last movie. And he feels flawed because of that. But if Andy ever comes in here, I want you to ask him about that concept. So but don’t again, like I hope you guys aren’t leaving here thinking oh that, the story is the other apes on the other side. That’s a piece of it. And again, when you see the movie, I think you’ll go Matt Reeves is a very special director because he’s looking at all the characters and he’s thinking how can I complete everyone’s journey on every side? So if we introduce a character, they’re gonna have a setup and payoff. They’re gonna come around. They’re gonna start the movie here and they’re gonna end here. And that includes pretty much everybody, antagonist and protagonist.

What is Woody Harrelson’s character after?

Clark: He’s after survival. He wants to win. And he believes that the apes stand in the way.

So it’s not annihilation of the apes.

Clark: It is annihilation of the apes. Because to him, because man’s hubris has created these apes and the world has now smacked man around because through this the virus was released. And problems have happened. And he’s now trying to navigate how to deal with this. And he’s a hardliner. So apes are a very big problem for the survival of mankind. The other thing in this movie is much like the Spanish flu of 1918, there is the virus has mutated. And so it hasn’t stopped. So there’s it’s the gift that keeps on giving. In the worst possible way.

Koba is mentioned in some way?

Clark: Koba’s definitely a part of this story. For Caesar, right? ‘Cause he’s wracked with the guilt and haunted by that act. He’s not alive.

No. He’s mentioned. Like are you worried about audiences not knowing who Koba is?

Clark: No, I think it’ll be explained in the story. Yeah. I’m not worried about that.

My interpretation, the end of Dawn it was very clear that there was gonna be another film just by the way it ended like on the last lines. Are you going into this film with the attitude of making more in the future and are you planning ahead for that?

Clark: I would always wanna make more of these. I love them. And I think I love them in particular because the characters are so great. And I think we have more mileage left to tell with these characters. You really have to take them, you have to fit, you have to write and shoot a complete story and movie. You have to. And again, the truth is we had a different ending in the script. I’ll be really like honest. Like I think it was our weakest thing. We didn’t know how to end that last movie. And we found that. And we didn’t do it as a cliffhanger. We just, we did it because that felt right in the moment. This movie has a better ending. It’s a much more complete story. If this happened to be the last movie from this run, then so be it. I think people would go like that was a very good end of this three movies of Planet of the Apes. God, I wish I could spend more time with Caesar and these gangs, but that’s a pretty satisfying ending. But I think people will wanna see more. And I think and again, like as I said, we introduce Steve Zahn’s character. That should put in the audience’s mind oh if this ape’s here, are the apes in France smart? Are they ever gonna get to Germany and China and hopefully Tahiti so we can make the movie down there? They have zoos down there?

Apes in sand, that’s your next thing.

Clark: Just some surfing apes. At some point forget the goblets and all that other stuff we were talking about. Surfing apes. Now I don’t know…

Planet of the Apes Maurice

Coachella.

Clark: David Bowie apes. I don’t know. I’d like to, I’m hopeful that, you know, ’cause again Karin [Konoval] came in here and talked about, I love, I think you can do a whole movie on Maurice. Do we have that in the works? We don’t. But should we? Probably.

I’d see it.

Clark: Yeah, I mean, I think if you saw like where Maurice came from, we have a rich back story on Maurice you guys don’t even know. You would freak out. He comes from the circus. Who taught him how to sign?

Somebody in the circus?

Clark: Yeah.

A clown?

Clark: But you know what I mean? Like that’s just it, it’s like ’cause you care about that character so much, you really can like sit around and this is the fun of my job, this is what I get to do for a living. It’s crazy. It’s so much fun. I get to sit with Matt and Mark [Bomback] and we go Maurice learned sign language. He did it at the circus. Was that where he learned it? So there you go, guys. I hope that stuff was, was it good?

That was awesome.

Clark: All of the good stuff is in the movie. The questionable stuff we’ve cut out. Thanks for coming by.

Pages: Previous page 1 2 3

Cool Posts From Around the Web: