war for the planet of the apes

Although the human characters change from installment to installment of the Planet of the Apes prequel series, the core ape group has remained somewhat consistent. There’s Caesar, of course (played by Andy Serkis), and his pals Maurice (Karin Konoval) and Rocket (Terry Notary). But War for the Planet of the Apes brings on one intriguing new addition, a lonely zoo chimpanzee named Bad Ape.

The day after I got to see some War for the Planet of the Apes footage introducing Bad Ape, I got the chance to talk to Bad Ape himself, Steve Zahn. He told me a little bit about his character, how he got involved with the film, the experience of doing motion capture for the very first time, and more. 

The first thing I asked Zahn was who, exactly, Bad Ape is. While I’d seen a scene featuring the character already, I was curious to hear Zahn’s summary of him. Here’s his response:

He’s a new character, obviously. I wasn’t in the other movies. They find him. I’m a chimp that escaped from the Portland Zoo. I learned how to talk in the zoo, which is a big thing. You know, most of them communicate through sign language. Speaking ape. Caesar talks. So that’s a big thing. He’s a total different speed compared to the others. Which makes him unique and different. They’re very stoic and heavy.

In the footage we saw, Bad Ape was revealed to have been living alone in an abandoned facility. He seems thrilled to meet Caesar and his friends, and is eager to share his things and his food — but more reluctant to give them what they really want, which is help finding a human military camp in the area. Still, he ends up contributing in more ways than one. As Zahn told me:

He becomes a valuable asset in that he knows the lay of the land, so he’s kind of a scout. And just because he’s so thrilled to be a part of a group again, everything that they do is just something new and great to him. Or he’s very scared of something they’ve been through many a times and they’re not. He just has a different perspective, you know. A new perspective on everything. Which is refreshing.

Watch my full conversation with Zahn below. War for the Planet of the Apes charges into theaters July 14, 2017.

War for the Planet of the Apes – Steve Zahn Interview

  • 0:00: Who is Bad Ape?
  • 1:08: Bad Ape’s personality and history.
  • 1:45: How Zahn got involved with Apes and his Skype audition.
  • 2:52: What Bad Ape brings to Caesar’s ape crew.
  • 3:52: Getting used to mo-cap work.
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