Paul Giamatti Reflects on Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes

Paul Giamatti, who played the orangutan Limbo in Tim Burton‘s Planet of the Apes, shared his fondest experience working on the remake.

Speaking on the Happy Sad Confused podcast, Giamatti spoke highly of the prosthetic ape makeup he had to wear and what that meant to him as a fan of the franchise.

“That was Heaven from beginning to end,” Giamatti said. “I loved that doing that so much I didn’t want to take that makeup off. There were days when we were called out and already be in makeup and we wouldn’t work and Tim Burton would be like ‘I’m so sorry,’ I’m like ‘I’m so happy to be in this f–king makeup.’ Because that was a childhood dream to be in Planet of the Apes. So I was like, if I never act again I will be so happy I got the play a talking orangutan.”

Released in the summer of 2001, Planet of the Apes was a direct remake of the 1968 classic starring Charlton Heston. Directed by Burton, the remake featured an all-star cast that included Giamatti, Mark Wahlberg, Tim Roth, Helena Bonham Carter, and Michael Clarke Duncan. Despite a mixed reception from critics who praised the makeup work but panned the screenplay, Apes was a financial success worldwide.

The change from prosthetics to motion capture in the Apes franchise

The Apes franchise found new life with 2011’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes, where motion capture work on the apes replaced prosthetics. Though Giamatti has nothing but praise for the recent Apes releases, he believes that the loss of physical makeup takes away from the essence of the series.

“I like the new ones they’re great. But I am a little bit like … It’s missing something with that tactile thing of those real faces. The original makeup is so iconic and strange actually too. There’s nothing like [it],” Giamatti said. “They’re not quite apes, they’re not quite people. it’s not quite real. It’s great, I love it and Rick Baker’s makeup in the Tim Burton film was amazing but you know it’s not the same thing.”

The next installment in the franchise Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes is scheduled for release in theaters on May 24, 2024.