The seemingly unasked-for prequel Rise of the Planet of the Apes turned out to be better than predicted, a pleasant surprise that’s earned itself a sequel. The followup, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, is the fulfillment of the original’s sequel-begging conclusion.

News on Dawn of the Planet of the Apes has ramped up in recent weeks, as director Matt Reeves (Cloverfield) fills out the cast and angles toward full production. After casting a new human lead in Jason Clarke (Lawless, Zero Dark Thirty), Reeves has added another primary cast member in young actor Kodi Smit-McPhee.

Deadline has the scoop that Kodi Smit-McPhee has been cast in an unknown but major role in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. This will be the second time that Smit-McPhee has worked with Matt Reeves; the first was the snow-and-vampires remake Let Me In.

Recent reports indicate that Dawn of the Planet of the Apes will take place 15 years after its predecessor, in a world much changed from the last time audiences saw a troop of intelligent apes taking refuge in the California wilderness. The same engineered virus that gave Caesar (Andy Serkis) and his fellow apes super-intelligence continues to rage throughout the world, wiping out entire population centers. Dawn… will apparently focus on two intertwined stories – a group of scientists attempting to survive in a lawless, plague-devastated San Francisco while Caesar struggles to maintain control of the emerging ape society.

For an actor barely past sixteen, Smit-McPhee has tackled more than his fair share of heavy roles throughout his career. In addition to his strong performance in Let Me In, he was half of the main duo in the grim The Road. Last year, he voiced the titular character in the underrated ParaNorman. In addition to Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, his current slate includes the Julian Fellowes-penned Romeo and Juliet, Ari Folman’s The Congress, and Young Ones.

Though we know nothing about Smit-McPhee’s role in Reeves’ sequel, the safe bet is that he’s playing one of the human characters – perhaps a child of the trapped scientists. Depending on how old the script calls him to be, Smit-McPhee could be a teenager who’s spent almost his entire life dealing with a society crumbling about him, which could make for some rather dynamic character work.

Then again, it’s entirely possible that Reeves has begun to cast new apes on the sly. Since Caesar’s ape clan has been growing for 15 years, it would only follow that intelligent, talking ape children might be among some of the new characters for the film. Smit-McPhee has already dabbled in voice work with ParaNorman. Could he also be donning a motion-capture suit in the near future?

Until we know more about the exact details of either group of characters, anything’s possible. We at Screen Rant will be watching (and reporting on) all the details in the coming months.

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Dawn of the Planet of the Apes will swing into theaters on May 23rd, 2014.

Source: Deadline