The Planet of the Apes confrontation on M6: who embody the primates?

On the occasion of the broadcast of The Planet of the Apes: the confrontation, a small zoom on the way in which the actors have trained to slip into the skin of the different species of monkeys from Matt Reeves’ feature film.

In Planet of the Apes: The Confrontation, we follow a growing nation of evolved primates, led by Caesar. They are threatened by a group of humans who survived the devastating virus that spread ten years earlier. They reach a fragile but short-lived truce: the two camps are on the verge of a war that will decide the dominant species on Earth.


When we talk about motion capture, we obviously think of Andy Serkis. The actor is a tech pioneer with his unforgettable incarnations of Gollum in The Lord of the Rings, the giant gorilla in King Kong or Caesar in the Planet of the Apes franchise. He also played Baloo in Mowgli or Snoke in The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi. However, we often forget that another great actor is behind the success of the Planet of the Apes saga …

We tested the capture performance!

In October 2015, AlloCiné had the chance to go on the set of The Planet of the Apes: Supremacy, the last part of the saga. We were then able to talk to the man who is today considered the best in the world in the art of simian imitation. In the middle of a Canadian forest, that is to say the natural environment of his character, in combination of motion-capture, Terry Notary, who plays the character of Rocket, thus gave us some secrets to interpret a monkey:

“A lot of our exercises consisted of going outside [ndlr : en pleine nature] with the actors, to sit down for an hour and be silent. Do not speak. You might think it’s easy, but it’s not. To be in the present, to be silent, to close it. To be really very simple. (…) When you take the outer things and make it your essential, you become invisible and you no longer play, you are. It’s incredible. Your performance vanishes. You get lost in this thing that is becoming more important than you and you stop identifying with yourself, leading you. Your performance becomes real, and that’s what makes these movies work. “

Terry Notary is a former gymnast who spent several years working with Cirque du Soleil. His talent eventually led him to work on movie sets. It is in particular he who trains the actors of The Planet of the Apes by Tim Burton to enter the skin of their characters. He acquired real expertise on the subject after careful observation of primates at the Los Angeles Zoo. This know-how allows him to then lead a real “school of monkeys” alongside other artists.



For example, in The Confrontation, Judy Greer (Cornelia) and Toby Kebbell (Koba) had to learn, before they could play their ape-like character, to move and behave physically like chimpanzees, so as to make their alter- Ultra realistic digital ego on screen.

They were personally coached for several weeks by Terry Notary, including using crutches to simulate simian arm length. Greer considered that she had to move instinctively, and not think too much about her acting to get into the character’s skin as well as possible.


As the monkeys are therefore embodied by real actors thanks to motion capture technology, an important device has been set up on the set to follow the movements of the actors. 35 people were assigned to each team, around fifty mo-cap cameras and eight witness cameras were constantly rotating to film everything related to the monkey characters.

For Joe letteri, visual effects supervisor, “this cutting-edge technology should never take precedence over the actors’ story and play, but on the contrary put itself at their service. Being able to film the performance captured on site and work with all the other actors allows for a more coherent interpretation. . “

Terry Notary, from Planet of the Apes in The Square, where he puts himself in the skin of a primate in an absolutely dantesque sequence

The planet of the apes confrontation on m6: who embody the primates?

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Terry Notary: From Planet of the Apes to The Square

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