The original Planet of the Apes rode on the then-groundbreaking makeup effects and a shocker ending. The 2001 “re-imagining” tried to right on action and special effects. The latest version of the Apes story is going to live or die on pure acting. Andy Serkis is playing Caesar, the chimpanzee who learns to talk and may or may not rise to dominate humans. Spoiler alert, the movie’s called Rise of the Apes and it stars James Franco as… the human. (The part he was born to play, baby!)

“When I first heard about it I thought, ‘Well, hmm, I don't know. Those masks have cult value but…’” Franco said while he was promoting his latest movie, 127 Hours. “Then I found out that that’s not how they’re doing it, that it’s actually all of Peter Jackson’s Weta people doing CG and that I’ll be working with Andy Serkis who played Gollum, and it was the DP from Lord of the Rings, Andrew Lesnie. I was such big fan of those movies and I am interested in new ways of performing and new ways of filmmaking so I thought why not? I had this opportunity and try it out. “

Caesar will look like a real chimpanzee, because they don’t have to worry about those pesky human bodies fitting in a costume. Serkis will just play the scenes like he did for Gollum or Kong. Franco says his scenes with Caesar are A-list scene work.

“When I got to do the scenes with Andy Serkis, it was actually really interesting because he plays a chimpanzee, a real chimpanzee. There’s no way we would ever get scenes that we did with a real chimpanzee. Because Andy’s so good at that behavior so it’s like acting opposite a real chimpanzee with great acting instincts. It was cool, it was new, new for me.”
Franco has done the action thing before in Spider-Man Pineapple Express, The Great Raid and Flyboys. So Apes doesn’t require any badass heroics from him. “I play a nerdy scientist in that so I’m not an action hero at all. I saw 127 Hours as an opportunity to have an unusual acting experience and I honestly felt the same way about Rise of the Apes.”