Often times being on the set of a big film, can feel like a tug of war. Journalists are there looking for scoop or some sort of news, whereas cast and crew, understandingly, are more than a little wary to reveal spoilers on a movie that hasn’t even finished shooting. For the most part, the set visit of War for the Planet of the Apes was incredibly forthcoming (if anything I may know too much about the upcoming film); but there was one question – no one could get a straight answer on: who exactly is Steve Zahn playing?
“Steve Zahn plays an Ape — a cool Ape…” producer Dylan Clark, somewhat slyly answered. Yet when pressed for a character name – Clark wouldn’t budge. In fact – no one that we interviewed that day (Andy Serkis, Terry Notary, Karin Konoval) would refer to Zahn by anything but the actor’s own name. Naturally this led to rampant speculation amongst the press. If no one would reveal the name than that must mean Zahn’s character already exists in the ape-verse. Cornelius and Dr. Zaius were the two most popular theories espoused… although, at the end of the day, that’s all they were – theories.
But if no one would reveal exactly whom Zahn was playing in the film, they were more than happy to comment on just how big an impact his character has on the film and the franchise at large.
“[Zahn’s] a real light in this film, a sprite of good spirit.” Terry Notary (Rocket) confided in between takes, “I think everybody’s going to go – ‘Oh he’s that. Cool. I love that guy.’ He’s a good element in this film for taking us in new directions and leading us off into this thing and lighting up certain heaviness. Because it’s a very dark, heavy movie and it needed this little bubble to break things up and he’s playing that really well.”
Zahn’s character will introduce a new ‘global aspect’ to the ape franchise. Per producer Dylan Clark: “We introduce Steve Zahn’s character and that should put into the audience’s mind – ‘Oh if this ape’s here, are the apes in France smart? Are they ever going to get to Germany and China?”
He later continued: “[We really wanted to focus on] meeting new apes. All of the sudden where did this guy come from? How is he able to talk? Are other apes in the world smart? We’re constantly looking ahead for what else we might want to do in this world. How else can we show the evolution of these characters? Who else can we bring in both on the human side and the ape side? …You’re going to get a global perspective on the state of the world… Steve Zahn’s going to show up and give us a taste of the possibility and the question of what else might be out there.”
But it’s not just the apes that will be evolving – per Clark, the ALZ virus will have a as-of-yet unseen effect on human beings, attacking them in a new and much more aggressive way. “Much like the Spanish Flu of 1918, the virus has mutated,” he revealed, “So it hasn’t stopped. It’s the gift that keeps on giving in the worst possible way…”
War for the Planet of the Apes opens July 14, 2017. For the rest of our set visit coverage, peruse the links below.
- Andy Serkis on Caesar’s Dark and Brutal Journey in ‘War for the Planet of the Apes’
- Is Koba Really Dead in ‘War for the Planet of the Apes’?
- ‘War for the Planet of the Apes': How “Apes in Snow” Resulted in Cutting-Edge VFX