Ape school 101: Bringing characters to life in ‘Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes’

LOS ANGELES —“Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes,” the newest installment in the “Planet of the Apes” franchise, is renowned for its visual effects, and to make the apes look realistic, the actors had to learn how to walk and move the way real apes do!

On The Red Carpet’s Sophie Flay got a special crash course in “ape school” from Kevin Durand, Owen Teague and the film’s “movement coordinator,” Alain Gauthier.

Since ape arms are about a foot longer in proportion, the actors had to use stilt extensions on their arms to create the illusion of walking like a quadruped.

“One thing that helps with me personally, for Noa, is there’s a lot of tension here, and the shoulders kind of don’t move, but the arms are free to swing,” said Teague as he demonstrated.

In their training, Durand and Teague spent weeks learning to walk, move and act like a bonobo and a chimpanzee respectively.

To channel the right energy, the actors went straight to the source. “Well, I actually went to a sanctuary in Florida called the Center for Great Apes, and I spent a week with chimpanzees,” Teague told us.

As Flay perfected her walk, Durand gave her a few tips. “There’s only so much movement that you have with the actual legs. So, even when we’re walking, it’s like, you know, you’re just kind of like, following small steps. The hips and the ribs move together. You feel foolish, don’t you?”

“I was going to say, ‘When do you stop feeling foolish?'” she responded.

With weeks of work and another actor to play off of, Durand explained that he stopped feeling foolish, “and through all of this movement, Proximus, his voice came alive.”

Moving like an ape is definitely tougher than it looks, but with stilts on their arms and their backs hunched, you (almost) couldn’t tell the difference.

“Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes” is in theaters now.

The Walt Disney Company is the parent company of 20th Century Studios and this ABC station.

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