Matt Reeves has always had a thing for apes.
“I was obsessed as a kid; I loved the 1968 film, and I was also a huge fan of the TV series,” the director of this week’s Dawn of the Planet of the Apes says. “I was of the age where gorillas with guns on horses was just so captivating. Needless to say, I was really excited when I was approached about making this film.”
Part of the fun for Reeves was creating a San Francisco set where his creatures could, well, monkey around.
“We shot in Vancouver, New Orleans and a little bit on the stage in Los Angeles,” he says, adding that the photo above was from the Big Easy. “What I really wanted to do was take viewers into the heart of that ape civilization. In doing that right from the beginning, I knew I was sentencing us all to the most difficult, physical shoot we had ever been through.”
Reeves says he’s not a sadist—he was just hoping to give his sequel to 2011’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes a little dose of reality.
“I wanted to really shoot it in locations that looked like the places they were supposed to be—in the forest, in the rain, in the elements. I felt that would add a level of reality to the story.”
He continues: “We shot all of the ape civilization in Vancouver and then we built the ape compound itself outside and New Orleans. Then we took over downtown New Orleans again to turn it into post-apocalyptic San Francisco.”
And while Reeves is done filming and back at home in Los Angeles, he does admit to being deeply charmed by all of the locations in which he shot the film.
“Each city had its own special quality,” he says. “New Orleans is a place of such history, and Vancouver is an amazing city with such grandeur of nature. They were both incredible places to stay and to shoot in.”
So, will he be returning any time soon—perhaps for the sequel that’s already in the works? Only time will tell. But there is one place the director admits he’s keen to visit sooner than later.
“What I’m really interested in,” he says, “is going back to the world of the apes.”