Renowned motion-capture actor Andy Serkis is the true star of the rebooted Planet of the Apes movie franchise, having now portrayed the ape revolutionary Caesar in both Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (released in 2011 and 2014, respectively). Serkis again plays Caesar in the upcoming War for the Planet of the Apes: a film that, similar to Rise and Dawn before it, is unusual in the sense that it doesn't any A-listers playing the humans opposite Serkis and his fellow mo-cap ape actors.
The last two Planet of the Apes movies have featured numerous well-respected character actors playing human roles - David Oyelowo, John Lithgow, Jason Clarke and Gary Oldman among them (with Woody Harrelson set to join their ranks in War) - but again, no one of megastar status, so to speak. As we learned during our visit to the set of War for the Planet of the Apes however, there is one blockbuster star who is interested in joining the franchise at some point... though not as a human character.
Planet of the Apes franchise producer Dylan Clark revealed on the set of War for the Planet of the Apes that none other than Tom Cruise - whom Clark worked alongside on director Joseph Kosinski's sci-fi action film, Oblivion - has (somewhat jokingly, but also somewhat seriously) expressed interest in playing an ape in one of the Planet of the Apes films. Here is the larger quote from Clark on that matter:
I love working on these movies. [20th Century] Fox has been great. Typically, when you make tentpole movies like the one we made last time, and Jason Clarke, who’s my friend, Jason Clarke is not Tom Cruise. Or he's not Denzel Washington. But we said we really loved Jason in Zero Dark Thirty, and they said, “We did, too.” And we said, “We really would like to put him in as our human lead [in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes].” And they were like,“That’s cool,” not like, “You've got to go get Tom Cruise,” who is great, too. But if we had Tom Cruise show up in this movie, you guys would be like, “Whaaaa?” Although Cruise, I produced Oblivion. He’s a friend and he loves these movies. So he’s always, like, emailing me: “I want to play an ape…” He’s always messing with me. He’s like, “I've figured it out. I'm going to be this ape in the next movie.”
Cruise might not be seriously committed to playing an ape one day (as Dylan Clark did indicate) - but on the other hand, it wouldn't be that far a cry from most of his recent roles. The actor is famous for performing as many of his own stunts as possible - including those that are legitimately dangerous for the Mission: Impossible franchise - and has said on multiple occasions that he's been attracted to physically-challenging roles of late. Motion-capture performances in general tend to fall on the more physically-demanding side (especially those from the Planet of the Apes series and similar tentpoles); which is to say that if Cruise ever does appear in a Planet of the Apes film, it might be in the form of a digitally-rendered ape, for related reasons.
As mentioned before, it doesn't sound as though Cruise is genuinely intent on joining the Planet of the Apes series - and he already has plenty of other franchise movies to keep himself busy with, over the next few years (including, Mission: Impossible 6 and Edge of Tomorrow 2). Still, who knows; if the current Planet of the Apes franchise does continue after Caesear's story is over, maybe it will be Tom Cruise (the CGI ape) who takes his place as the series protagonist.
- War for the Planet of the Apes (2017) release date: Jul 14, 2017