Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes
Thursday 1st September 2011
An origin story in the true sense of the word, Rise Of The Apes is set in present day San Francisco. The film is a reality-based cautionary tale -- a science fiction/science-fact blend where mankind's hubris leads to the development of intelligence in apes and the onset of a war for supremacy. Oscar®-winning visual effects house WETA Digital - employing certain of the groundbreaking technologies developed for Avatar - will render, for the first time ever in the film series, photo-realistic apes rather than costumed actors.
Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes is the first live-action film in the history of movies to star and be told from the point of view of, a sentient animal -- a character with human-like qualities, who can strategize, organize and ultimately lead a revolution and with whom audiences will experience a real emotional bond. The film was impossible to make until the technology, invented for Avatar and now advanced to a new dimension, caught up to the idea behind the movie.
This work is complemented by the unique and extraordinary achievements of Andy Serkis, the world's foremost performance capture actor, who infuses Caesar with nuance, soul, wisdom and heart.
Another historic accomplishment for the picture was its filming of visual effects and performance capture work on practical locations outside the controlled environment of an enclosed stage. This allowed the performance capture work to be fully integrated with the live action performances -- eliminating the barrier between visual effects and live action.
In addition to presenting emotionally-engaging photo-realistic apes, the film's setting is instantly recognizable and relatable. Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes is an origin story in the truest sense of the term. Set in present day San Francisco, the film is a reality-based cautionary tale, a science fiction/science fact blend, where man's experiments with genetic engineering lead to the development of intelligence in apes and the onset of a war for supremacy.
"This is a contemporary view of the Planet of the Apes mythology", says producer Dylan Clark. "It's a big event movie, but is anchored by the quality of its storytelling, its emotion and the depth of its characters. At its heart, it's a character-driven piece".
The film's emotional core was a principal draw for the actors, including John Lithgow. "It's very unusual to have a big science fiction film with a foundation in human emotion and conflict", says the Oscar nominated actor. "I was amazed by the script's emotional authenticity. This film takes audiences' expectations and turns them on their head".
Much like its storied predecessor, the original Planet of the Apes, the new film uses the science fiction genre to explore bigger worlds and ideas. "Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes is about our civilization reaching a point of no return", says director Rupert Wyatt. "Events unfold through the eyes of Caesar, a super-intelligent chimpanzee who at a young age sees humans as being capable of wonderful things, like art and reason. And then he begins to see humanity's dark side - oppression, bigotry and the ostracizing of what and who we don't understand".
Another key theme is humanity's hubris - our arrogance in thinking that we can twist, push, cheat, or circumvent the laws of nature, without consequences. "In the original Planet of the Apes, it was man's hubris that got the character of Col. Taylor [portrayed by Charlton Heston] on that beach, facing the Statue of Liberty and the stunning reality of humanity's destiny", writer-producer Rick Jaffa points out. "It wasn't a quirk of fate or a mutation that that led to that upside-down world". So, too, does Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes pit humans against nature - and against themselves - leading to a resolution that sees humans and apes on the path that will take them to a new and shocking world order.
Will Rodman (James Franco) is a scientist working within a large pharmaceutical corporation, Gen-Sys, conducting genetic research to develop a benign virus that restores damaged human brain tissue. He is committed to finding a cure for Alzheimer's, a disease that afflicts his father, Charles (John Lithgow). Will's relentless focus - "he's married to his science", says Jaffa - has precluded personal relationships, but the connection between his research and Charles' illness brings the two together, albeit under difficult heart-rending circumstances. "Will is a cold, isolated person", says James Franco, a recent Best Actor Oscar-nominee for his work in 127 Hours. "Most of his energy is directed towards his work. His father, Charles, is suffering from dementia so he moves into his father's house, which was once Will's childhood home, to take care of him. Being a caregiver is a role Will has never had to perform before".
Just prior to Gen-Sys' commencement of human trials of a promising and potentially lucrative new drug, ALZ-112, Will's simian test subjects suddenly display bizarrely aggressive behavior. Management deems the research a failure and Will must shut down his program. Amidst the confusion of the study's sudden termination, Will finds himself charged with an overlooked newborn infant chimpanzee - a male, the newly orphaned offspring of his most promising test subject. That young chimp, destined for greatness, is named Caesar.
Will secretly raises young Caesar as his own, at home, while caring for his ailing father. "Will must now be a caretaker, not only to Charles, but to this baby chimp", says Franco. "As the story progresses Will becomes more of a person and less of a scientist and starts to care about Caesar more than the success of the drug".
Caesar is much more than a pet to Will; in fact, Will becomes a father figure to the very special chimp. "In some ways, this is a story about fathers and sons", says writer-producer Amanda Silver, who penned the screenplay with her husband and writing partner Rick Jaffa. "Will becomes a father to his own father, as well as to Caesar".
Adds John Lithgow: "The Will-Charles-Caesar dynamic is extraordinary. Will is losing his father to Alzheimer's just as he's gaining this 'child,' Caesar. That's the emotional tension that sets the story in motion".
Caesar leads Will to Caroline (Freida Pinto), a primatologist who serves as Caesar's vet and who becomes a key player in both of their lives. "Caroline loves the fact that Will cares for a chimpanzee so much that he almost treats him like his own son", says Pinto. "She's dedicated her life to apes, so she absolutely loves them and cares for them with all her heart".
Due to exposure in the womb to the ALZ-112, young Caesar displays intelligence and behaviors unusual for an ape of any age. Inspired by his observation of Caesar's unexpected gifts, Will surreptitiously obtains enough samples of ALZ-112 from Gen-Sys and against his better judgment privately continues his research at home, using his father and Caesar as test subjects. Over time, with the help of the drug, the chimp exhibits incredible cognitive skills and intellect. At the same time, Charles' symptoms of Alzheimer's miraculously go into remission. Will's bending the rules of laboratory trials seems to have worked beyond his hopes. But as he soon discovers, it has taken him - and ultimately the entire human race - on a ruinous path.
"Will has crossed the line", says Rick Jaffa. "He's thinking, okay, we can cure Alzheimer's and increase intelligence. And that's when you start to play God and that's when it gets dicey".
"Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes explores arguably one of today's most important issues", states Peter Chernin. "We have these incredible scientific and medical tools at our disposal and we're asking the question, how far do you take them before you're really messing with nature? What are the limitations?"
Will Rodman pushes those limitations to the breaking point and beyond, to catastrophic results. But before those dire consequences unfold, we get to know Caesar as a youngster and adolescent who, like a human child, is curious about the world around him. However, as Caesar matures, his highly-developed intelligence is countered by the aggressive and dangerous protective instincts typical of adult male apes. Caesar soon becomes too much for Will and Caroline to handle. Will is reluctant to part with Caesar, who has become like a son; Caroline understands Will's inner turmoil, but she knows that it is impossible for Caesar to remain with him. "Caroline insists that every animal needs open space and that you can't expect a large animal - even a very special one like Caesar - to flourish inside a house", Pinto explains. "Of course, she loves Will and Caesar and understands why it's so difficult for him to part with Caesar".
Will takes Caesar to live among other apes within the confines of the San Bruno Primate Sanctuary. But unknown to Will, the "sanctuary" is more like a shoddily run prison - a dumping ground for unwanted or abandoned apes. It is run by Landon (Brian Cox, who starred in director Rupert Wyatt's debut feature, the acclaimed The Escapist) and Landon's son, Dodge, portrayed by Tom Felton. The latter's work in Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes marks another inventive villainous turn following his role as the bullying Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter film series, for which Felton was recently awarded an MTV Movie Award® for Best Villain.
Because he's not the physically strongest ape in the facility, Caesar quickly realizes that in order to survive he must assert his intellectual dominance over the fearsome alpha-male ape Rocket, a beastly brooding angry gorilla named Buck and a psychologically damaged orangutan named Maurice. Caesar soon prevails over the other apes and establishes a new social order. At a pivotal and electric moment, Caesar stands up and retaliates against their cruel human handlers.
Says Dylan Clark: "We built the structure of our movie around that scene", the specifics of which the filmmakers wish to keep a surprise. "It will be powerful and emotional". Adds Rupert Wyatt: "We wanted it be a 'world-stops-spinning' moment that plays into the whole idea of evolution and where that can take a species". That defining instant leads to a daring escape, an epic confrontation at San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge, a wrenching and fateful reunion between Will and Caesar - and a revolution that will forever change the planet.
In creating Caesar and the world he inhabits, Weta Digital's mandate, as it was on Avatar and the Lord of the Rings trilogy, is to take audiences to worlds never seen before. Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes senior visual effects supervisor Joe Letteri, a four-time Oscar winner, explains: "For Avatar, Jim Cameron created a complete fantasy world that no one had ever experienced before. The challenge with Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes was a very different one and in some ways, it was even more daunting. We applied some of the technology we developed for Avatar to create a real, recognizable world - modern-day San Francisco. Everything - the apes, the locations - had to feel genuine because we're exploring a story that's reality-based and not straight-ahead science fiction".
Letteri credits Rupert Wyatt for championing the notion of a reality-based story and effects. "Rupert has instilled the overall idea in all of us that we are bringing realistic-looking chimps into the mix. So, we started at ground zero. It's a fresh new approach to the Planet of the Apes film series. We're presenting primates as we know them. We're giving them an additional level of intelligence and subtle human tendencies".
For Letteri, Planet of the Apes is in some ways the Holy Grail for visual effects artists, because the 1968 original is a cinema touchstone for both its spectacle and themes. "For me", says Letteri, "Planet of the Apes is such a classic and beloved film that the idea of working on an origin story - the story about how it all came to be - was interesting, especially being able to focus on the point of view of Caesar as our main character".
As Weta Digital utilized its state-of-the-art tools to render photo-realistic apes, the world's foremost performance capture artist, actor Andy Serkis, came aboard the project to infuse Caesar with nuance, emotion, soul, wisdom and heart. Serkis' contributions to Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes cannot be overestimated, says Wyatt: "Andy Serkis is our generation's Charlie Chaplin. By that I mean he's one of the very few actors around who has fully embraced the available visual effects technology because he completely understands the full potential of what it can achieve. I think some actors are intimidated by performance capture because they think it's separating their performance from the actual reality of the film, when quite the opposite is true. Andy understands that every little nuance - every breath, every little muscle movement that he gives on camera is visual exposition. Film is primarily a visual medium and if you are able to have your character tell a story with a minimal amount of words, then that's ideal".
Caesar's character arc takes the chimp from a newborn to an adult and the leader of a revolution. Serkis, who gave acclaimed performances as Gollum in the Lord of the Rings trilogy and as Kong in King Kong, notes that "Caesar is one of the most formidable roles I've undertaken, both physically and emotionally. It's one thing to play a chimpanzee, but to play one from infancy to adulthood - and a revolutionary leader - well, that's quite another. But it was irresistible to me as an actor.
"Part of the journey is having played him as a toddler and the joy of discovery and then realizing that he has this intelligence beyond his years", Serkis continues. "He's picking up on human beings around him and is sensing that he is an extraordinary gifted being and then realizing that the world can be a very brutal place. Caesar has intelligence foisted on him. He didn't seek it out. There's a lot of responsibility on his shoulders, without him having asked for it".
By the film's second act, "Caesar becomes a prisoner", says Serkis. "He gets taken away from a loving environment and feels rejected. He is imprisoned in the San Bruno Sanctuary, where he's put in a cage, surrounded by these disturbed, wild creatures after being rejected by the human beings who have been his parents and loved ones. He's questioning his identity. Then he finds the strength to lead and unite the other apes and I think it's then that he moves into kind of the third stage. which is the revolution. He uses his intelligence to galvanize these apes and then his strength and power to lead them. It's an extraordinary journey for me, as an actor".
The role's physical rigors represented a different kind of journey. Precision, training and focus were paramount in capturing the realistic ape movements. Stunt coordinator Terry Notary, a former Cirque du Soleil artist, was instrumental in helping the performance capture actors shape their roles. Notary also contributes important performance capture work to some other key ape characters.
As the performance capture actors broke new ground in bringing emotion and physicality to their roles, Weta Digital, too, was extending its groundbreaking work on Avatar for Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes. For the first time, Weta Digital filmed visual effects on practical locations outside the controlled environment of an enclosed stage, also known as a Volume.
Letteri explains: "As we did with Avatar, we used the performance capture suit and headgear to capture the actors' facial expressions and get the full range of their performances. But here, for the first time, we used performance capture as a fully integrated part of the live action performance. Working on Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes became all about the performances and the actors interacting with one another. We would take care of the rest - the actual visual effects - later".
Weta Digital devised a new portable performance capture rig, which could be set up in different kinds of locations. For the first time ever, notes visual effects supervisor Dan Lemmon, "we were able to get those performances in direct sunlight".
Weta Digital's - and the entire production's - biggest challenges came during the filming of the film's climax, which unfolds on, above, along and beneath the Golden Gate Bridge. (The production constructed the massive set outside of Vancouver.) The scene, depicting an epic battle between man and primate, features elaborate stunts, fire, explosions, helicopters, hundreds of cars and extras and an atmospheric San Francisco fog - as well as the culmination of all the drama, emotion and character interactions.
This scene and the film's other big set pieces are always in the service of its emotional core and resonant themes. Sums up Andy Serkis: "Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes doesn't feel like a visual effects-driven film. It feels like a powerful emotional story with a big backdrop. The action and spectacle work seamlessly with the drama. And that's why I think it's really powerful - because the 'wows' aren't in your face. It's all about finding realism and truth".
"The film taps into our most primal fear of the Alpha of our planet being usurped - literally letting another species take over the world - and asks how would that play out", concludes Rupert Wyatt.
James Franco's (Will Rodman) metamorphosis into the title role of the TNT biopic James Dean earned him career-making reviews, as well as a Golden Globe® for Best Actor in a Motion Picture made for Television. He also received nominations for an Emmy® and Screen Actors Guild Award® for this memorable performance.
Franco earned an Independent Spirit Award for Best Male Lead as well as nominations for an Academy Award, a Golden Globe Award and a Screen Actors Guild Award and recognition from numerous critics' associations for his starring role in Danny Boyle's critically acclaimed drama 127 Hours. Franco's performance alongside Sean Penn in Gus Van Sant's Milk earned him an Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Actor and Franco was nominated for a Golden Globe for his role in David Gordon Green's comedy Pineapple Express, where he starred opposite Seth Rogen. Franco is also known for his starring role as Harry Osbourne in Sam Raimi's Spider-Man trilogy.
Franco was recently seen starring opposite Danny McBride and Natalie Portman in David Gordon Green's comedy Your Highness. He also recently starred as the famous poet Allen Ginsberg in Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman's Howl. Franco also appeared in Ryan Murphy's Eat, Pray, Love, alongside Julia Roberts and he was a part of an all-star ensemble cast in Shawn Levy's comedy Date Night. Franco will next be seen in Sam Raimi's Oz: The Great and Powerful.
Franco's additional credits include George C. Wolfe's Nights in Rodanthe, Paul Haggis' In the Valley of Elah, Karen Moncrieff's ensemble drama The Dead Girl, Tommy O'Haver's drama An American Crime, John Dahl's The Great Raid, Robert Altman's The Company, plus City by the Sea (opposite Robert De Niro) and the Martin Scorsese produced Deuces Wild. On television, Franco starred in the critically acclaimed series Freaks and Geeks.
Franco wrote, directed and starred in the features Good Time Max and The Ape. Herbert Wire, a short film that he wrote and directed, starring Michael Shannon, debuted at the Sundance Film Festival in 2010. The Feast of the Stephen, written and directed by Franco, premiered and won a Teddy award at the Berlin Film Festival. Additionally, Franco directed Saturday Night, a documentary on the week-long production of a Saturday Night Live episode, which originally premiered at SXSW; and The Clerk's Tale, which premiered at Cannes. Franco recently wrote and directed a biography of poet Hart Crane called The Broken Tower, which premiered at the 2011 Los Angeles Film Festival.
Freida Pinto (Caroline) traversed the modeling circuit in Mumbai for two years before gaining her big break when director Danny Boyle cast her as the female lead, Latika, for his project Slumdog Millionaire. In a promo interview, Boyle likened spotting her to his discovery of Kelly Macdonald for Trainspotting. After Slumdog Millionaire's success, Pinto starred in the title role in Julian Schnabel's film Miral, followed by Woody Allen's You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger. Upcoming is the fantasy epic Immortals, directed by Tarsem Singh. Between the years 2006-2007, Pinto anchored Full Circle, a travel show telecast on Zee International Asia Pacific. She went on assignments to Afghanistan, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Fiji among other countries.
John Lithgow (Charles Rodman) is an actor with a broad range of interests and talents in every area of the entertainment industry -- and even outside it. He has been working in show business since the early seventies and has achieved stunning success in wildly varied ventures.
At heart, Lithgow is a theatre actor. Theatre is where he started and he started big. In 1973, he won a Tony Award® three weeks after his Broadway debut, in David Storey's The Changing Room. Since then, he has appeared on Broadway nineteen more times, earning another Tony, three more Tony nominations, four Drama Desk Awards and induction into the Theatre Hall of Fame. Lithgow was most recently seen Off-Broadway alongside Jennifer Ehle in Mr. & Mrs. Fitch, Douglas Carter Beane's play about a husband and wife team of gossip columnists.
Lithgow also toured the country with his one man show Stories By Heart. His other stage performances have included major roles in My Fat Friend, Trelawney of the Wells, Comedians, Anna Christie, Bedroom Farce, Beyond Therapy, M. Butterfly, The Front Page and The Retreat from Moscow, Mrs. Farnsworth and the musicals Sweet Smell of Success (his second Tony) and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. In 2007 Lithgow was one of the very few American actors invited to join The Royal Shakespeare Company, playing Malvolio in Twelfth Night at Stratford-upon-Avon. Lithgow's most recent appearance on Broadway was in the revival of Arthur Miller's All My Sons alongside Dianne Wiest, Patrick Wilson and Katie Holmes.
In the early 1980s Lithgow began to make a major mark in films. At that time, he was nominated for Oscars in back-to-back years, for The World According to Garp and Terms of Endearment. His many other notable film credits include All That Jazz, Blow Out, Twilight Zone: the Movie, Footloose, 2010, Buckaroo Banzai, Harry and the Hendersons, Memphis Belle, Raising Cain, Ricochet, Cliffhanger, Orange County, Shrek, Kinsey and a flashy cameo in Dreamgirls.
For his work on television, Lithgow has been nominated for eleven Emmy® Awards. He has won five of them, one for an episode of Amazing Stories and three for what is perhaps his most celebrated creation. This was the loopy character of the alien High Commander, Dick Solomon, on the hit NBCcomedy series 3rd Rock from the Sun. In that show's six-year run, Lithgow also won the Golden Globe, two SAG Awards, The American Comedy Award and, when it finally went off the air, a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
He recently found new success in television drama with his twelve-episode arc on Showtime's Dexter playing Arthur Mitchell, the Trinity Killer. For his work on Dexter Lithgow received the Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series, the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor in a Television Series, as well as a nomination along with rest of the cast for the SAG Award for Outstanding Ensemble Performance in a Drama Series. His other major appearances on television have included roles in The Day After, Resting Place, Baby Girl Scott, My Brother's Keeper, TNT's Don Quixote and HBO's The Life and Death of Peter Sellers.
And then there is Lithgow's work for children. Since 1998 he has written seven New York Times best-selling children's picture books, including The Remarkable Farkle McBride, Marsupial Sue, Micawber and I'm a Manatee. In addition, he has created two Lithgow Palooza activity books for parents and children, Lithgow Palooza Readers for use in elementary schools and the The Poets' Corner for Warner Books, a compilation of fifty classic poems aimed at young people, to stir an early interest in poetry. All of this work has won him two Parents' Choice Silver Honor Awards and four Grammy® Award nominations.
Lithgow has performed concerts for children with the Chicago, Pittsburgh, Detroit, Baltimore and San Diego Symphonies and at Carnegie Hall with the Orchestra of St. Luke's. He has released three kids' albums, Singin' in the Bathtub, Farkle & Friends and the Grammy-nominated The Sunny Side of the Street, released by Razor & Tie Records. All of these concerts and albums have included several of his own songs and rhyming narrations.
In 2003, the noted choreographer Christopher Wheeldon invited Lithgow to collaborate with him on a new piece for the New York City Ballet. The result was Carnival of the Animals, a ballet for fifty dancers, with music by Camille Saint-Saens and with Lithgow's verse narration. Lithgow himself spoke the narration from the stage. At a certain point he ducked into the wings, climbed into costume and re-emerged to dance the role of The Elephant. He has performed this feat over twenty times. The project also spawned another award-winning children's book, Carnival of the Animals and another Grammy-nominated CD.
Lithgow was born in Rochester, New York, but grew up in Ohio, graduated from high school in Princeton, New Jersey, attended Harvard College and used a Fulbright Grant to study at the London Academy of Music & Dramatic Art. He was honored by Harvard with an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters in 2005 and, at that time, was invited to deliver the school's Commencement Address. He concluded his address with a new children's book, written for the occasion and dedicated to Harvard's Class of '05. The book, Mahalia Mouse Goes to College, is intended to instill an interest in higher education in very small children. Lithgow has three grown children and a granddaughter and lives in Los Angles with his wife Mary, a Professor of Economic and Business History at UCA.
Brian Cox (John Landon) is an award-winning actor of the stage, screen and television. A veteran of more than 50 feature films, Cox recently starred in Coriolanus, directed by Ralph Fiennes, who also starred along with Vanessa Redgrave and Gerard Butler. Also upcoming is Ironclad, in which Cox stars alongside Paul Giamatti and Derek Jacobi. Last year, Cox was seen in the espionage thriller Red.
In 2009, Cox starred in the The Good Heart and was a member of the voice cast for The Fantastic Mr. Fox directed by Wes Anderson. Cox starred in Tell Tale, directed by Michael Cuesta. Cox appeared in the independent films Red (2008) and The Escapist, both of which were official selections at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival.
He starred in The Day of the Triffids in the UK for the BBC with an all-star cast including Vanessa Redgrave, Dougray Scott and Joely Richardson. Cox also starred in The Take, a mini-series for Sky TV in the UK. Cox appeared in Ryan Murphy's Running With Scissors, Woody Allen's critically acclaimed Match Point, Wes Craven's Red Eye and in the hit action thriller sequel The Bourne Supremacy, reprising the role he first played in the 2002 blockbuster The Bourne Identity. Cox made a memorable cameo appearance as famed attorney Melvin Belli in the star-studded thriller Zodiac.
Cox earned AFI and Independent Spirit Award nominations for his work in the critically hailed independent film L.I.E. and shared in a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination as part of the ensemble cast in Spike Jonze's Adaptation. His long list of film credits also includes Troy, X2, 25th Hour, The Ring, The Rookie, The Affair of the Necklace, For Love of the Game, Rushmore, Desperate Measures, The Boxer, Kiss the Girls, Braveheart, Rob Roy, Hidden Agenda and Nicholas and Alexandra. His first American film role was his chilling portrayal of the original Hannibal Lecter in Michael Mann's Manhunter.
On television, Cox delivered a striking performance as Hermann Goering in the miniseries Nuremberg, for which he won an Emmy Award and was nominated for Golden Globe and SAG Awards. Cox earned an Emmy Award nomination for his guest appearance on the comedy series Frasier. He co-starred as flamboyant theater producer Jack Langrish in the third season of HBO's original series Deadwood.
Born in Scotland, Cox trained at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts and has appeared in dozens of plays on the stages of London, New York and Scotland. Repeatedly honored for his work in the theatre, Cox won two Olivier Awards for his performances in Rat in the Skull and Titus Andronicus; British Theatre Association Drama Awards for Best Actor for his work in The Taming of the Shrew and Strange Interlude; and the Lucille Lortel Award, as well as Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle nominations, for St. Nicholas. He spent eight months in London's West End, starring as Max in Tom Stoppard's Rock 'n Roll, a role he reprised on Broadway. Cox has helmed stage productions of I Love My Life, Mrs. Warren's Profession, The Philanderer, The Master Builder and Richard III. He made his television directorial debut on the critically acclaimed HBO prison drama Oz.
A prolific writer, Cox has authored two non-fiction books - The Lear Diaries and Salem to Moscow: An Actor's Odyssey. He has contributed to the New York Times Arts & Leisure section and has written articles for a number of other publications. In 2003, Cox's contributions to the arts were honored by Queen Elizabeth II, who named him a Commander of the British Empire. In 2006, Empire Magazine (UK) honored his film achievements with the Empire Icon Award. In 2007, the UK Film Council named him one of the Top 10 most powerful British film stars in Hollywood today.
Tom Felton (Dodge) has been acting professionally since he was 10 years old, when he starred as Peagreen Clock in Peter Hewitt's fantastical tale The Borrowers. His talent was quickly spotted by director Andy Tennant, who cast him in the Academy Award nominated epic feature Anna and the King, playing Jodie Foster's screen son Louis Leonowens, with Foster playing the title role of Anna.
When Tom was just 11 years old, director Christopher Columbus cast him in the role that was to make Tom a household name, as Harry Potter's archrival Draco Malfoy. Tom has starred in all eight Harry Potter feature films. In 2010, Tom received the MTV Movie Award for Best Villain, for the sixth Harry Potter installment, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Earlier this year, he won the same award for his work in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part One. In between Potter shoots, Tom appeared in Johnny Kevorkian's thriller The Disappeared and has had a cameo role in the hit-comedy Get Him to the Greek. Tom recently starred in Todd Lincoln's The Apparition, also starring Ashley Greene, of Twilight fame and Sebastian Stan.
Andy Serkis (Caesar) has been working in the film, television and theater industries for over twenty years as an actor, filmmaker, director and pioneer of performance capture. Probably most well known for his performance as Gollum in the acclaimed The Lord of the Rings trilogy and as Kong in King Kong, Serkis has become highly involved in developing the art and craft of performance in the digital realm. He is currently spearheading 'The Imaginarium', a London-based studio and academy that aims to service film and games, produce its own material and provide a laboratory for emerging visual and performing artists to explore new performance capture applications.
As a stage actor, Serkis has appeared in over 40 productions in London and in theatres across Britain, most recently as Iago in Othello by William Shakespeare. On film and television, Serkis has acted in over 60 productions, receiving great acclaim, nominations and awards for his roles, most recently as Albert Einstein in Einstein and Eddington and for his Golden Globe and BAFTA nominated performance in Longford. Serkis was BAFTA nominated for his role as the legendary British proto-punk Ian Dury in the biopic Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll and starred alongside Simon Pegg in John Landis' Burke & Hare. This year will see the release of Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson's movie based on Hergé's French comic book hero Tintin, in which Serkis plays Captain Haddock.
As director, Serkis has worked across all performance media. He directed performances in Ninja Theory/Sony's hit Playstation 3 title Heavenly Sword, setting a new benchmark for emotionally engaging characters in videogames. His second game project was Enslaved, again with Ninja Theory. Serkis directed and produced the short film Snake and The Double Bass for the stage. In 2009 Serkis teamed up with producer Jonathan Cavendish (Bridget Jones, Elizabeth: The Golden Age) to form Caveman Films. He has several feature film projects in development and is planning to shoot his feature directorial debut, The Giant in New Zealand in 2011.