Andy Serkis undergoes amazing transformation in 'War for the Planet of the Apes'

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The third installment in the "Apes" franchise comes to life in "War for the Planet of the Apes." (KABC)

Actor Andy Serkis is making his third appearance in the rebooted "Planet of the Apes" series as the film's protagonist, "Caesar" in "War for the Planet of the Apes."

The master of motion capture technology first brought the role to life in 2011, portraying the character from a shy baby chimp to a leader of an ape army.

"Caesar, you know, he's older," said Serkis. "He's also evolving from being ape-like into more human-like certainly -- in terms of his facial expressions, his thinking, his emotions -- beginning to feel more-human like and linguistically, he begins to feel more human-like."

Serkis feels he's grown along with his on-screen alter ego.

"Caesar's face I know so intimately and even through the years and how he's changed," said Serkis. "Of course, playing a character all the way through from infancy through to adulthood, I feel like I've really lived the life of this character."

Woody Harrelson plays Colonel McCullough, a ruthless soldier obsessed with wiping out Caesar and his tribe. The opportunity to work with Serkis was a big reason why he joined the franchise.

"I think, you know, he might be the greatest actor I've ever worked with," said Harrelson. "He's extraordinary, he's (got) the most expressive eyes, he can say nothing and communicate more than almost any other actor."

Serkis credits director Matt Reeves for bringing heart to this "war."

"He really wanted to put the audience into the head of being a chimpanzee because that's what these movies are about, they are a great metaphor for being able to see ourselves," said Serkis.

"I think this is really powerful, this movie, and it's a very emotional film. It's also got great humor in it. It's an epic, it's a mythic story. I think it's a brilliant blockbuster with heart and a lot of intelligence."

"War for the Planet of the Apes" is rated PG-13 and is in theaters Friday, July 14.

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