Jason Clarke, From ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ to ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’

Alpha ape Caesar has found an uneasy human ally in “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” in Malcolm, a former architect who lost his wife to the virus that wiped out most of humanity. Left on his own to raise his teenage son, Malcolm is desperate to maintain the hope and stability he and Alexander have found within a small colony of fellow survivors in San Francisco.

Clarke and Serkis

Malcolm is played by Jason Clarke, who rose to mainstream attention with his engaging characterization in Kathryn Bigelow’s gripping suspense drama and Oscar® nominated “Zero Dark Thirty” where he also received acclaim for his work. Clarke brings his equally gritty performance in “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” as Caesar’s principal human contact. “Malcolm is sort of a mirror to Caesar, trying to rebuild his community in the ruins of a world that is gone forever,” says director Matt Reeves. “There’s a lot of mistrust and throwing of blame on both sides,” adds Clarke. “From the point of view of the humans, there’s a lot of anger about how mankind has suffered because of the virus. The humans wrongly blame the apes for causing the virus, though humans actually created the virus in a lab a decade earlier.”

Caesar and Malcolm must make choices, compromises and decisions that not everyone respects. Both are fathers and must protect not just themselves but also their nascent societies. In this respect, the film is the story of two families – one human, one ape.

Jason Clarke talks about walking onto set in the middle of a lush rainforest in British Colombia: “It’s simply amazing – old-growth forest, 3D cameras, motion cap cameras, wires going everywhere, smoke machines, fog machines, rain and mud, a crew of hundreds and then there’s 50 actors performing as apes walking around the forest. I always prefer shooting on location rather than on a soundstage. It just brings so much in terms of realism to the project. This goes for the actors portraying the human characters and for the ‘apes actors’ as well. These guys are not just sitting in a volume. They’ve got to interact with people and the forest and the mud and everything else and the rocks and the stones and the rain.”

“My character Malcolm was a white-collar guy that’s had to toughen up, particularly to bring himself and his child through this. In the small colony where they belong, they have managed to get their act together to actually function again, and then it’s threatened. It’s a Pocahontas story as well: we come again and we’ve got to deal with people who have a right to be here and belong just as much as we do. Which is where Caesar and Malcolm find themselves, in their meeting. It’s not just like, “hey, you’re hungry, have some food.” We both know the repercussions of everything we enter into, which I think is really interesting. I’m not worming my way in there, or getting them to do what I need without a knowledge of how this has gone in the past and how it could possibly go again, once we get it together. And they know that as well. But then I think what happens with Malcolm and Caesar is something unique. Malcolm gets to have a unique experience — as you would when you see an ape talk!” Clarke finally describes of his character.

“Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” opens July 9 in more than 200 screens nationwide from 20th Century Fox to be distributed by Warner Bros.

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