The days of threatening exotic animals into performing on camera may soon be over – and it’s thanks to advancements in technology as well as actors like Andy Serkis, the star of War for the Planet of the Apes, King Kong, and the upcoming Jungle Book, among other films.
And in a new video interview with PETA, he celebrates the computer-generated imagery and performance-mapping that make modern movies like the Apes series possible – and cruelty-free.
“The thought of shooting an Apes movie now with real apes is absurd,” says the Golden Globe nominee. “We’ve matured as an industry and realised that that would be intolerable and cruel.”
Serkis previously teamed up with PETA US to call for a chimpanzee named Louie to be freed from a roadside zoo in the US state of Michigan, where he has been held in solitary confinement for nearly all his life, and the actor insists that his years of work portraying primates on screen have made him appreciate them all the more. “What is amazing is how similar we are,” he says. “[T]hey feel emotion, they sense. Their intelligence is incredibly close to us.”
As filmmakers have learned that animals endure deprivation and abuse in the entertainment industry, the use of digital effects to portray them has increased. The Revenant, Noah, and the Apes series all used digital imagery to create wild animals, and AMC’s The Walking Dead used computer-generated imagery and animatronics to create the stunningly realistic fan-favourite character Shiva the tiger. PETA US’ TV spot 98% Human – which uses cutting-edge technology to address the plight of great apes in entertainment – won top honours in visual effects at the prestigious Cannes Lions festival, and the vast majority of top advertising agencies around the world have signed PETA US’ Great Ape Humane Pledge, committing to not using live great apes in their projects.