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EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Tom Felton Talks "Caesar: Rise of the Apes"

It's quite possible that actor Tom Felton is moving from one mega-franchise (in the form of Harry Potter) to another as he co-stars in next summer's Caesar: Rise of the Apes. In this exclusive interview, the actor talks about his time on the set of this Rupert Wyatt-directed reboot of Planet of the Apes.
Interview conducted by and copyright Edward Gross

In the film, Felton is playing the son of Brian Cox, who in turn is described as being the cruel manager of an apes sanctuary. As Tom points out, he's not moving THAT far away from Draco in that his character is far from a nice guy.

APE CENTRAL.NET: You've obviously moved on having scored Caesar: Rise of the Apes. How did you get cast in that?

TOM FELTON: It came out of nowhere, bizarrely. I actually went on my first proper holiday I've had for a while, and on the fourth day I got a call saying, “Would you fancy coming to Vancouver and we'll have a look at you, and think about taking on this role?” I was excited about it; I'm a huge fan of the Planet of the Apes franchise, so I was excited. I read the script and honestly it was one of the best things I've ever read, if not the best – certainly over the last few years – so I was excited to come over. And when I got to Vancouver I met with [director] Rupert Wyatt who's brilliantly directing the project at the moment, and I've been here for three weeks now.

APE CENTRAL.NET: How familiar are you with the old movies?

TOM FELTON: I've actually been re-introduced since joining this other franchise, if you will. I've had to do some research and go back a bit, but my dad was the most excited, because he was a big franchise fan back when he was a youngster. He was very excited. He keeps dropping quotes and names of old apes and things.

APE CENTRAL.NET: When you watch those old films what do you think of them?

TOM FELTON: Well, I think it's always different when you're looking at a film from another time, but they are fantastic. I knew about them, and I knew what was going to happen, and a lot of the famous lines I knew – I've seen other franchises quoting from them – but it adds to the excitement, it adds to the magnitude of what I'm joining on to. It's fantastic; it made it even more exciting.

APE CENTRAL.NET: I think this approach – using the fourth film as a launching point rather than doing a direct remake of the original – is brilliant. It's really it's own thing in a lot of ways.

TOM FELTON: I couldn't agree more. Had I not had the knowledge that it was what it was, I almost wouldn't have put two and two together – it's such a great story set in completely different backdrops and atmospheres, so I'm sort of intrigued about how the Planet of the Apes fans take this, and kind of enjoy it, because everyone here is absolutely reveling in the story. it seems to me that it's going to appeal to absolutely everyone. Whether you're a fan of the franchise previously or not – you don't need a heavy understanding of what happened in Tim Burton's or in the original; it's sort of out on its own, in its own way. I mean, one of the golden rules is don't touch a classic, and it's fair to say that some of the originals are definitely classics and there's less pressure on the whole franchise if you're not trying to remake something, or please a certain genre of fans. It's something completely new.

APE CENTRAL.NET: And how about working with Rupert?
TOM FELTON: It's been an absolutely joy. I really thought, after the last four years of Potter, working with David Yates, that I wouldn't find anyone who's quite as incredible as him, but now on my first job I've found one. Rupert is unbelievably understanding and approachable, and a completely nice guy, but at the same he's an absolutely genius as well – he seems to notice tiny, tiny details that no one else does, and he can sort of control a set of ten plus actors single handedly, so it's been nothing but a joy, and he's come up with all these extra bits, if you will that I wouldn't have thought of, that no one would have thought of, so it's been an absolute joy.

APE CENTRAL.NET: Rupert himself is such an unknown quantity to a large extent that it should be a big surprise to people.

TOM FELTON: Oh, 100% I think it's such a great idea and I was very intrigued when I found out Rupert was directing. I'm a huge fan of The Escapist, and I think that was, again, an exceptionally clever film, so I knew we were dealing with someone straightaway who was on the ball, and up-and-coming if you will, so it will be something completely fresh. And not that I've seen much footage, but some of the stuff he has captured and I have seen is beautiful, it looks so cinematic as well as staying true to the story. I can't say too much – I've only been here for three weeks and I haven't seen anything finalized, but from what I have seen, and what I've got a vibe from… For instance, Andy Serkis has been here from the start, and he sings Rupert's praises from the rooftops, and the fact is that he's been here every single minute of it, almost, and he's extremely excited, and everyone's excitement is sort of bouncing around off each other at the moment.

APE CENTRAL.NET: Are you a nice guy or a bad guy in the movie?

TOM FELTON: (laughs) I don't want to say too much, but needless to say he's not the nicest guy in the world and I have a lot of fun playing him. With Brian Cox involved [playing his father], it doesn't set a good scene; it's kind of bad from there on in.

APE CENTRAL.NET: Have you worked with Brian yet?

TOM FELTON: Yes we have, we've had a few opportunities to work together and he's been great as well. I don't know why you would expect these big names to be very different around you, but not at all, he's exceptionally relaxed, and very friendly – we got to talking about old times, and he's relayed a lot of exciting stories to me. He's kind of a scary guy to be fair. It's actually bizarre, there's lots of brilliantly friendly actors on set, but when they're in front of the camera they're completely different people.

APE CENTRAL.NET: What else are you working on?

TOM FELTON: I always try to keep focused on one project at the time – but this is coming to a close for me – I'm finishing up on Friday and I've got a lot of Potter promotion and premieres which I'm very excited about as I've not seen any of the footage we shot there. Then I’m supposed to be going to Louisiana to shoot an independent film called Out Of The Rough. We're going to be shooting that through October and November, so I'm very excited about that as well. It's an independent project about a coach who gets the opportunity to put together a golf team, for which he gets four international boys, and I play the British boy. It is a very different role for me, and it definitely stands out against what I've done previously. I’m excited to get on board.
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