From You've Got Mail to Happy, Texas and Rescue Dawn, Steve Zahn is renowned for his frequently comedic sidekick roles.
He's also voiced a fair few animals in his time, from a cat (Stuart Little) to a pig (Chicken Little) and even a pterodactyl (The Good Dinosaur). But he's never done anything quite like Bad Ape in the upcoming War for the Planet of the Apes.
In his first motion capture performance, Zahn not only provides much-needed comic relief in the series' darkest entry yet, but will also steal your heart with a performance of extraordinary emotional depth.
As a newcomer to both the Apes franchise and the whole process of mo-cap, Zahn found the experience tougher than he anticipated - until he had an epiphany while preparing for the role with movement coach and stunt coordinator Terry Notary, who also plays Rocket.
"It’s not about pretending you’re an ape, it’s about being an ape," Zahn told Collider. "It’s about being this character. We don’t have ape suits on, so we really have to become apes. If you pretend you’re an ape, it’s going to look like shit. If you be one, and it’s second nature, then it’s going to work. To get to that point takes a lot of work."
So named by his abusive keepers, Bad Ape is a zoo escapee who learned to speak independently of the other apes. They encounter and recruit him during their revenge mission against the human soldiers.
Like Caesar, Bad Ape is a common chimpanzee. But this lonely, nervous, excitable figure could not be more different.
Asked to describe Bad Ape's personality, Zahn told Contactmusic.com: "He's very inquisitive, he's experienced, he's older. He and Caesar share a lot of the same experiences - even bad ones. And yet Bad Ape is just really excited about everything."
Prepare to meet your new favourite ape when War for the Planet of the Apes opens at Cineworld cinemas nationwide on July 11.