Andy Serkis to play rebellious chimp Caesar in Planet of the Apes

British actor Andy Serkis will play ape leader Caesar in the upcoming 20th Century Fox reboot/prequel Rise of the Apes, according to a post on the 20th Century Fox Twitter page. Serkis, of course, is best known for playing Smeagol/Gollum in the Lord of the Rings trilogy (a part he will supposedly return to in The Hobbit, if that ever gets made) and also played the title role in Peter Jackson's 2005 remake of King Kong. Jeez, the guy plays an ape once and he's already getting typecast.

As with Gollum and Kong, Serkis won't actually "play" Caesar in furry makeup. He'll don a wetsuit with funny little motion sensors all over it to provide the template for the character, which will be created through CG. But since the motion-capture effects for the movie are being handled by Jackson's Weta Digital company, it makes sense that they'd call on their old pal Serkis and once again make a computer program out of him.

Rise of the Apes, which is a very loose retelling of the fourth entry in the original series—1972's Conquest of the Planet of the Apes—follows the story of a human scientist whose genetic experiments result in the creation of the superintelligent Caesar, who eventually becomes the linchpin for an ape revolution. Roddy McDowall played Caesar in the original film, which had a slightly different (and dare we say more fun) origin story for the character and ended in a violent, extended battle between simian slaves and their human masters.

Serkis joins a pretty decent cast that includes James Franco (Harry Osborn in the Spider-Man movies) as the scientist, Frieda Pinto (Slumdog Millionaire) and John Lithgow (Dexter). The film is being directed by Rupert Wyatt (The Escapist) from a script by Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver, and is on the fast track for release on June 24, 2011. That's right, folks—just under a year from now.

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