Ok, Fox, you have our attention. We weren't especially looking forward to "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" in the run up to its release, which meant that, by the time it landed, it was a very pleasant surprise; one of the most enjoyable and emotionally potent blockbusters in years, with an astonishing performance-capture performance by Andy Serkis at its center.
The film was a big hit, and the inevitable sequel, "Dawn Of The Planet of the Apes" started rolling forward, with Serkis getting a big payday to reprise his role as super-intelligent ape Caesar, but the film hit a speed bump when original director Rupert Wyatt bailed, citing a too-hasty timetable. But Fox kept our interest by hiring the very talented Matt Reeves ("Let Me In") to replace him, and now, per Heat Vision, they've landed one of the most impressive breakout actors of the last twelve months to star in the film, in the shape of Jason Clarke.
Clarke's been on a slow burn; the Australian actor starred in the Showtime series "Brotherhood" in 2006, after breaking out in Philip Noyce's "Rabbit Proof Fence," and has over the years since had significant roles in "Death Race," "Public Enemies" and "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps," among others. But things really blew up for the actor in 2012, starring alongside Tom Hardy and Shia LaBoeuf as one of the Bondurant Brothers in "Lawless," and then stealing scenes as ruthless CIA agent Dan in "Zero Dark Thirty."
He's got even more on the way, including George Wilson in Baz Luhrmann's "The Great Gatsby" and the villain in Roland Emmerich's "White House Down," but this would certainly mark his highest profile role to date, even if the part, like James Franco's in the original, is probably secondary to Caesar in the project — the trade suggests the script takes place 15 years after the original, with scientists hiding out and battling to survive, while Caesar struggles to keep up his position as the leader of the apes. Presumably Clarke plays someone in the former category. Unless the film's taking a "Shaun of the Dead" approach, and he's playing a character called Dawn.
We spoke to "Side Effects" writer Scott Z Burns, who worked on a draft of the script for 'Dawn', not so long ago, and the scribe said his script "explored the notion of peaceful coexistence and compromise versus extremism and conflict and that kind of inherent issue and how you get along with the other." But he's subsequently been replaced by "Total Recall" remake writer Mark Bomback (ruh-roh…), so it's unclear whether that'll still be the case. We'll presumably find out when the movie opens on May 23rd, 2014.