A Planet Of The Apes Stunt-Gone-Wrong Sent Kris Kristofferson And Michael Clarke Duncan To The Hospital

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Eventually released in the summer of 2001, the remake of "Planet of the Apes" went through decades of development before director Tim Burton was finally hired. According to the fascinating book "Tales From Development Hell" by David Hughes, 20th Century Fox was set to make an alternative sequel in 1988 titled "Return to the Planet of the Apes" with a screenplay from Adam Rifkin ("The Dark Backward"). Just before pre-production, new studio executives at Fox reportedly butted heads with Rifkin and the project was put on ice. Peter Jackson and Oliver Stone were even considered at one point, and even Arnold Schwarzenegger was attached in the mid-'90s. 

Tim Burton was finally hired to direct at the start of the new millennium, attracting some of the biggest stars and character actors in the business, including Tim Roth, Helena Bonham Carter, Paul Giamatti, Mark Wahlberg, Michael Clarke Duncan, and music legend Kris Kristofferson. It's not a perfect movie by any means, but it did go on to become the sixth highest grossing movie that year, right behind "Jurassic Park III." The most memorable aspect of Burton's version, however, lies in the incredible makeup effects work from Rick Baker — the seven-time Oscar winner — that completely transformed many of the actors into living, breathing humanistic apes. It was a staggering achievement that sometimes overshadowed the intense battle scenes and big-budget spectacle designed to turn Charlton Heston's original sci-fi classic into a tentpole action film. 

Stunt performers are leaping and flying through the air during a number of intense battle scenes in Burton's "Planet of the Apes," with Wahlberg's bewildered astronaut thrown right into the middle. Kristofferson and Michael Clarke Duncan got in on the action as well, leading to a potentially life threatening run-in that sent both actors to the hospital. 

Another battle for the planet of the apes

During the original press junket for the film, Kris Kristofferson told Hollywood.com about a dangerous fight scene involving a spear. Before being killed by the menacing General Thade (Tim Roth), Kristofferson's human character Karubi squares up against the hulking Colonel Attar (Michael Clarke Duncan) while trying to protect his daughter Daena (Estella Warren). The result wasn't pretty and both actors paid the price. Kristofferson described the brawl, saying:

"I had to run at Michael Clarke Duncan with the spear, and we had a big collision at one point. I didn't put him in the hospital, hitting the ground put him in the hospital. I was lucky 'cause my head hit the ground too. It split open, it was bleeding, only I already had a fake wound up there so they couldn't see it."

Fortunately, 2001's "Planet of the Apes" is remembered for the emotive performances the actors deliver underneath all those makeup prosthetics, and not a tragic accident. Kristofferson had to go the hospital, too, and had a bizarre encounter that adds a much needed punchline to the story. "It turned out my best friend's ex-wife was the doctor. Very surreal experience."

10 years later, the groundbreaking motion capture effects in Rupert Wyatt's "Rise of the Planet of the Apes," the first film in the highly successful prequel trilogy, ushered in an entirely new vision of our world turned upside down. Inevitably, the breakthroughs in visual effects ended up replacing the iconic makeup first originated by "Apes" creator John Chambers. The move to CGI even eventually led Rick Baker to retire from the business altogether. Thankfully, through all the iterations over the years, Kristofferson's close call didn't end up becoming a tragic addition to the "Apes" legacy.