So far the casting announcements for the next installment in Fox’s rebooted Planet of the Apes franchise, titled Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, have concerned the new human players in the film, with the exception of Andy Serkis reprising his celebrated motion-capture performance as the ape revolution leader Caesar.
We’re now hearing that Judy Greer is playing the female chimp known as Cornelia, who is named as a reference to Cornelius from past Planet of the Apes movies. The character briefly appeared in Rise of the Planet of the Apes (via a mo-cap performance by Devyn Dalton), but will now have an expanded role as, possibly, a love interest and companion to Caesar, as he rules over the ape kingdom after the collapse of human civilization.
Greer has served as a supportive best friend (or, sometimes, enemy) in many rom-coms released over the past decade, including the Jennifer Garner vehicle 13 Going on 30, which features Serkis playing a human (for a change). The actress – who has appeared on TV series like Arrested Development and voices Cheryl Tunt on Archer – told Vulture the story about how a reunion with Serkis eventually led to director Matt Reeves (Cloverfield) casting her in the new Apes movie:
Around the same time as the wedding, Greer started attending awards-season parties in support of The Descendants, where she reconnected with her former 13 Going on 30 co-star Serkis. (“He played a human man in that one,” she noted.) Serkis encouraged her to lobby for a role in the sequel, and eventually she met with Reeves and revealed the depths of her Apes fandom. “I think I might have freaked him out a little bit,” she said, chuckling.
Both Serkis and Greer will be donning performance-capture gear for Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, which takes place 15 years after Rise… and focuses on two interweaving narrative threads: 1) Caesar’s struggle to maintain control of the New Ape Order and 2) The efforts of scientists and other humans working to survive in what remains of a once-thriving San Francisco.
Dawn… continues to lineup a solid cast, between the addition of Greer – who has done strong dramatic work in such films as The Village, The Descendants and Jeff, Who Lives at Home – and the human character actor roster, which includes Jason Clarke (Zero Dark Thirty), Kodi-Smit McPhee (The Road), Keri Russell (The Americans) and Oscar-nominee Gary Oldman (The Dark Knight Rises).
The original Dawn… script draft was penned by Rise… screenwriters Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver (who also wrote Jurassic Park 4), before a rewrite was handled by Scott Z. Burns (Contagion, Side Effects) – whose revisions may or may not earn him a writing credit – and then Mark Bomback, who came aboard to revamp the screenplay shortly after Reeves signed on as director (replacing Rise… helmer Rupert Wyatt).
Bomback was also responsible for retooling The Wolverine, after James Mangold stepped in to direct (following Darren Aronofsky’s departure). The trailers make that X-Men flick look like a pretty far cry from Aranofsky and original screenwriter Christopher McQuarrie’s vision of ‘Kurosawa’s Wolverine’ (for better or worse), so we shall have to wait and see if Bomback and Reeves’ retooled Planet of the Apes installment also differs significantly from the original planned version (again, for good or bad).
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes opens in theaters on May 23rd, 2014.