Kevin Durand loves playing villains in ‘Planet of the Apes’ reboot and ‘Naked Gun’

toronto –

Kevin Durand has a simple explanation for why he’s always cast as the bad guy.

“Look at my face,” the actor says during an interview in a Toronto hotel. “People see me and say, ‘Ahh!’”

The Thunder Bay, Ont., native has a countenance that tells a story and a resume full of evil characters, including a psychotic neo-Nazi in 2006’s “Smokin’ Aces,” a trigger-happy cop in 2013’s “Fruitvale Station” and a Possessed war captain in the 2020 Netflix series “Locke & Key.”

His latest detestable role is that of a bad ape: the tyrannical ape king Proxima Caesar in Wes Ball’s “Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes,” which opens Friday. It is the latest installment of the “Planet of the Apes” franchise.

Being typecast as an antagonist suits a 50-year-old man well. He has always gravitated toward sinister roles, dating back to his early days as a Shakespeare-obsessed aspiring actor.

“I just wanted to play bastards. I didn’t want to play Hamlet or Romeo. I wanted to be Iago. I wanted to be Petruchio,” she says.

Playing a villain is ‘therapy’

“There is something interesting about getting out of yourself. I spend all day being a good Canadian boy from Thunder Bay. And then suddenly I have license to bow down and be evil? Awesome. That’s therapy.”

Set several generations after the 2017 “War for the Planet of the Apes,” in which leader Caesar is killed while ensuring the freedom of his anthropoid companions, “Kingdom” takes place in a world where apes are the dominant species. Young chimpanzee Noa, played by Owen Teague, lives peacefully among his tribe until Proximus Caesar’s army raids his village. Accompanied by a mysterious and wise human orangutan, played by Freya Allan and Peter Macon, Noa embarks on a journey to rescue his kidnapped friends and family.

Durand says that on the surface the film is a “Friday night popcorn movie,” but if you choose to dig deeper, it is “a reflection of ourselves as humans and what we’re doing to the world and what we are doing to each of us.” other.”

Six weeks in ‘ape school’

Like its predecessors, “Kingdom” uses motion capture technology to bring the simian characters to life. Durand spent six weeks in “ape school” studying with movement coach Alain Gauthier, a former Cirque du Soleil performer, to learn how to stand, move and talk like an ape.

Once he understood the moves, Durand delved into Proximate Caesar’s motivations. He says his character is rooted in his deep knowledge of human history.

“He knows the nature of man and knows that he has to do everything possible to prevent a paradigm shift in power from occurring, because if humans regain control, there is a good chance that his kind will end up in laboratories where is experienced.” ” he says.

“I never approached him as a big villain.”

The impact of parenthood

Durand says he used to have trouble playing villains because he often took his characters’ psyches home. But all that changed when he became a father.

“I thought, ‘Well, people obviously, most of the time, see me as someone on the heavy side of the narrative and I have to feed my baby,’” she says.

“So (I decided) I don’t have to bring it home. And God, that was liberating, because then I could really lean on myself. There are characters that I have played that hurt me a little, but nothing that was not repairable.”

The next dastardly role Durand is leaning toward will be in the upcoming reboot of “The Naked Gun,” starring Liam Neeson as Detective Frank Drebin, originally immortalized by Leslie Nielsen. Durand says he will play a ’90s-style villain in the film, currently in production.

Director Akiva Schaffer asked the actor to bleach his hair for the role and is giving him a lot of license to decide his character’s origins.

“I gave him eight different accents and (Schaffer) said, ‘I like them all.’ So now I have to record them all and then let him sit there and listen and decide which one he wants to go with,” she laughs.

Durand says he’s a big fan of Nielsen in the original “Naked Gun” films and that it’s a “dream come true” to dive into the same cinematic universe.

“The older and messier I look, the more people seem to want to give me a chance. It’s wonderful because I’ve never felt so good in my life as an actor, as an artist, as a human being.”


This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 9, 2024.

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