Over the past few weeks, we’ve posted an enormous amount of coverage on director Matt Reeves’ Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. We had our set visit (with 45 things to know about the movie), on set interviews with Andy Serkis, Jason Clarke, and cinematographer Michael Seresin, new toy images, new movie images and posters, a TV spot, and more. Based on everything I’ve seen and learned, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is going to be a great sequel to Rise of the Planet of the Apes and it’s going to show how motion capture technology has advanced over the past few years. I really believe Reeves is going to hit a home-run with this film.
At last weekend’s WonderCon, I landed a great video interview with Keri Russell and Gary Oldman. Unlike some interviews that are formal, I was their last interview of the day and they just wanted to have some fun. You’ll understand as you watch the video. They talked about how the film shows both the apes and humans perspectives, what it was like filming in New Orleans, working with Reeves while he was seriously ill with pneumonia, the morality of Oldman’s character, the performance capture technology and shooting in 3D, what happened with the Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy sequel Smiley’s People, The Americans season 2 finale, and you can even watch Oldman talking with his son on the phone. It’s a fun interview so check it out after the jump.
Collider: The thing that really impresses me about this film is that it’s not just one-sided. You see the apes’ side, you see the humans’ side, and you understand that there’s no right or wrong. People are just trying to live and survive. Talk a little bit about that aspect of the film.
KERI RUSSELL: I think that’s what Matt (Reeves) did really well. Matt has such sensitivity. That’s sort of his wheelhouse, these complicated, vulnerable people who are just struggling to be brave and trying to protect their families. I think that’s exactly it: there’s an ape community, and there’s a human community, who are very fractured and damaged and have lost so much, and they’re both just trying to protect their families, and that is the conflict. Can they co-exist together?
GARY OLDMAN: Perfectly encapsulated. That’s it, as they say, in a nutshell. It’s about surviving.
Talk a little bit about what it’s like working with a director when he has pneumonia.
OLDMAN: [To Russell] You probably were with him longer. I came, I had one take, I got in that truck, yeah? I met you at the truck, and then I had two weeks off while he was hospitalized. So I came in for one night, I worked a couple of hours, and then didn’t work for two weeks, and I’m going, “Are we ever going back? Is he actually going to make it?” And they kept saying, “Matt’s really ill. He is really very ill.”
RUSSELL: He just had so much work to do.
I heard it was a challenging thing, like, you’re filming in the jungles of Vancouver, the wilderness, and the heat and humidity of New Orleans…
OLDMAN: And the factory. We were in a place that God knows what we were breathing in. I mean, I may grow a sort of second head in a couple of years.
RUSSELL: Yeah, we’re hoping. It might be cool. What if it’s a really great head?
OLDMAN: I’m just hoping my penis gets bigger from the experience. [laughs]
RUSSELL: Well, we’re all hoping that. [laughs] For everyone’s sake.
OLDMAN: I tell you what’s funny about working in a location like that that is hazardous, where when they turn lights out and they shine a flashlight and you see the shit in the air, floating around in the air. And then there’s all these people walking around with masks on.
RUSSELL: Yeah, I know, like, “What the fuck? Why are you wearing a mask?”
OLDMAN: Well obviously I can’t wear a mask in the scene. So I think the combination … the weather got soaking wet, then it was wet in New Orleans but it was humid, then in the factory, I think all of that combined, and the hours…
RUSSELL: And it was just an epic production. Epic! Those cameras and those forests, I mean, it was big.
OLDMAN: He’s working a 12-hour day, as we are, and then we wrap, and he has to go to the editing room. [Oldman’s son calls him on camera]
Family’s always more important.
OLDMAN: Well, it’s all about family. That’s what this film promotes, is family. That’s what it’s all about.
Would you call the character that you play “evil” or a “good guy”? How is your character in the film? And talk a bit about your relationship with Jason Clarke’s character.
RUSSELL: He’s a really evil guy.
RUSSELL: Jason Clarke.
OLDMAN: He’s pretty evil in real life, too. Horrible man.
RUSSELL: He’s horrible. He’s not here to defend himself, so we’re just going to do it. No, there are no villains in this film. The villain is survival. Everyone is just trying to protect their family in the way that every story you see on the news from all these different cultures. It’s such an integral right to want to watch your children grow up, and I think the ape family wants that and the surviving human family wants that, it’s just, can they co-exist and both get that?
OLDMAN: Most people, most families of [the victims of the lost flight of the] Malaysia airline, their frustration and their anger at the government and at the airline, and the way they’ve handled the whole thing, would you say they’re villains? That they’re bad guys?
The families? No.
OLDMAN: That’s it. You come in with your own loss, and outrage.
RUSSELL: You’re in survival/protection mode, and that’s the threat.
Ninety-percent of the movie is shot on location and involves the most motion-capture ever. Not only is it telling this gripping story, but it’s pushing the boundaries so forward in technology in the way they’re telling the story. Can you talk about that aspect of the film?
OLDMAN: I think it’s a game-changer, this one, because he’s taken 3D cameras, he’s taken motion-capture, he’s put it in location, he’s given it natural lighting and ambient, available light, he’s put long lenses … he’s shot it in a way that you wouldn’t ordinarily shoot a movie like this. Really, up until this film, ninety percent of this stuff is shot in a studio under very specific conditions, cameras and lighting are a certain way, you’re in a gray room. To really put this technology on the road and go out there … I think there are things in this movie – and of course Michael Seresin’s lighting and what he achieved – but with the motion capture and even the rendering of the apes, it’s a thousand-fold that’s come on since the last one. I think it’s as miraculous as anything Alfonso Cuaron did in Gravity. It’s as impressive.
You have a great DP.
RUSSELL: He’s unbelievable. And so interesting, too.
OLDMAN: And never done anything like this before. I met up with him when he was in LA and we had lunch, and he said, “Oh, I’m going over to the studio to look at some of this 3D stuff and the digital. I’m learning it. It’s kind of interesting.” And there’s this guy who, I mean he knows how to light, that’s for sure, but he was learning this as Matt [Reeves] was.
A lot of people don’t realize this, but your DP also shot a lot of Gravity.
OLDMAN: He did shoot a great deal of Gravity.
He worked with Alfonso.
OLDMAN: He took over for a while and actually ended up being there a lot longer than he thought he would be. I think [Emmanuel Lubezki] had a family issue or something and had to leave, and Michael took over.
I loved Tinker Taylor Soldier Spy. What are the chances of another movie? Also, does The Americans season two end on a big finale or a quiet moment?
OLDMAN: Well, Smiley turns up in the show [The Americans], that’s how we … it’s a big finale.
RUSSELL: It’s a big finale.
OLDMAN: I finally get him. I’m an old man. [laughs]
RUSSELL: It’s a big finale. [laughs]
OLDMAN: I would like to … There was talk of Smiley’s People, and then it all kind of … So, I’d like to do another. Yeah. I’ll get him. But [Tomas] Alfredson is now doing something again with Working Title. I think he at least wanted to make … they wanted him to sort of almost do back-to-back, and he said, “I don’t know, I want to do something else first, or do something in my own language.” Because you forget that he’s Swedish. So, who knows? If there’s a market for it. Today, we would be having this conversation about making it long-form television. $26 million. You’re not going to get $26 million for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy in this current market.
RUSSELL: There’s a big finale, and there’s a good story-point involving the family that is very intriguing.