Woody Harrelson Is The Human Villain In 'War For Planet Of The Apes'

Woody Harrelson (Zombieland, True Detective) has signed on to join Matt Reeves' Dawn of the Planet of the Apes sequel War of the Planet of the Apes. Harrelson won't have a small role in the film, he will be playing the human villain of this third film in the rebooted series. Hit the jump to learn more about the Woody Harrelson Apes casting.

The Hollywood Reporter broke the news, but doesn't have any more information about his role aside from he is being called "The Colonel". This might give us a clue that Harrelson's character is a part of (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes spoilers coming up) the impending military reinforcements that had been called to San Francisco just before the close of the last film.

Harrelson joins a cast that includes Andy Serkis who will again return to give a performance capture for the CG ape Caesar and Gabriel Chavarria (Hulu's East Los High) who will play one of just two human leads (a role which has been compared to James Franco's in 2011's Rise of the Planet of the Apes). We assume that the other surviving Apes and the performance capture actors behind those roles will also return for the next installment. Still no word on if any of the human characters from the previous film will show up again, but that didn't happen from the first film to the second movie, so there is an assumption that the human cast will change from sequel to sequel.

Last week I revisited both Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes in a back to back double feature with my girlfriend Kitra (who has never seen the films) and I was amazed at how well the films work together as a whole. I remember having more issues with Rise than I did upon this revisited viewing, andI was surprised at how much some of the moments in Dawn feel more emotional after coming straight from watching Rise. I really can't wait for this third film, aside from the Star Wars films and maybe one other film, this is my most anticipated film in production.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Reeves, who directed Dawn, has returned for the sequel, co writing the script with Mark Bomback. The plotline for War of the Planet of the Apes is being kept under wraps, Reeves has previously spoken in broad terms about where the story is going next:

As this story continues, we know that war is not avoided by the end of DAWN. That is going to take us into the world of what he is grappling with. Where he is going to be thrust into circumstances that he never, ever wanted to deal with, and was hoping he could avoid. And now he is right in the middle of it. The things that happen in that story test him in huge ways, in the ways in which his relationship with Koba haunts him deeply. It's going to be an epic story. I think you've probably read that I sort of described it where in the first film was very much about his rise from humble beginnings to being a revolutionary. The second movie was about having to rise to the challenge of being a great leader in the most difficult of times. This is going to be the story that is going to cement his status as a seminal figure in ape history, and sort of leads to an almost biblical status. He is going to become like a mythic ape figure, like Moses.

Reeves has also talked about how War of the Planet of the Apes will fit into the larger context of Planet of the Apes:

[We want] the story to be able to connect from the human to the ape world. So first one, [Rise of the Planet of the Apes] is this sort of how [Caesar] goes from humble beginnings to becoming a revolutionary. In Dawn, he rose to the occasion of becoming a leader, a great leader in really challenging difficult times. The notion of what we're after in the third is continue that trajectory to how he becomes the seminal figure in ape history and almost becomes sort of like an ape Moses of sorts, a kind of mythic ascension. We're trying to play out those themes and try to explore it in this universe of exploring human nature under the guise of apes.

Serkis has also talked briefly about the third film, saying:

The ape community has fallen apart. There's potential war. He's going to have to lead the apes in darker times. I think it's going to be very powerful.

Andy Serkis has hinted that the series could go further than just a trilogy:

It might be three films. It could be four. It could be five. Who knows? The journey will continue. It might not necessarily be summarized or completely fulfilled in this next one. The point being, eventually we know that we're going to end up back at The Planet of the Apes, but whether it's this film or not, I don't know.

Serkis has said that "I know part of the desire for Matt to do this next movie about continuing the enjoyment of seeing these apes evolve."

War of the Planet of the Apes starts shooting in Vancouver this October for release on July 14, 2017.