Steve Zahn’s “Bad Ape” brings the laughs to the latest “Planet of the Apes” film, “War for the Planet of the Apes”.
As funny as Bad Ape is, I’d say playing an Ape isn’t the easiest thing. So how did Steve prepare for this role?
“It’s a very long and complicated process. I’ve always been a physical actor … but this is a completely different thing. It’s not about imitating. I learnt that early on. You have to embody it. It has to become second nature because you have to play a complex character. When you’re acting the last thing you want to think about is anything physical because it just doesn’t work. So when I got there on the first day, I thought all about this and I got really scared. I really worked hard.
On the first day, when I did my first scene with Andy – you know my God! It’s like your first day on the team is playing in the superbowl. But because Andy is the type of person, type of actor that he is, he made it so much easier.”
Steve has seen himself on the big screen many times but this time it was different. “It was a moving experience. It’s hard to explain why it was moving. I think it’s because you put so much effort and time into it, and to actually see yourself as an ape. Not some created computer thing, you see your work. All those things you came up with – it’s really exciting.”
In order to get a great film on screen, great direction is crucial. One of Steve’s favourite director’s is Steven Soderbergh (he worked with him on the Jennifer Lopez/George Clooney film “Out of Sight”). He loves the fact that Steven didn’t call “Action!” on set. “I hate when a director does that.” But isn’t that the word you need to get the scene started?
“It depends on how it’s done. I don’t like a big kind of like “AND GO, ACT!” It’s kind of totally contradictory to the whole idea of just do your thing. I hate when people do that. But it wasn’t like that on this film. Matt (Reeves) is one of a kind. That guy is a brilliant director.”
In his career, Steve has been a part of some much loved films. When I tell him that one of my all time favourite films is “Reality Bites”, he doesn’t seem too impressed. So, if it’s not “Reality Bites”, which of his back catalogue do most people want to talk to him about?
“It varies. It really does. It depends on who you are. There are so many different comedies, like “Saving Silverman” is a big one, or “That Thing You Do”, or now I have done the series of “Whimpy Kids”, so I have these little guys who recognize me. It’s interesting how perception or over time it changes. How you become a part of somebody’s subconscious mind. It’s fun to guess, when someone is walking up to you, what movie is the one they like.”
Next up, Steve is working on a series called “The Crossing”. In the meantime, you can catch him and all of his ape cast mates at the cinema in “War for the Planet of the Apes”.