“I thought it would be a bit of ooga booga”: Andy Serkis’ Planet of the Apes Co-Star Didn’t Expect Playing Koba Would Push Him Into ‘Method Acting’ That Turned Him Into an Ape

Acting is not easy, especially when you have to spend months playing a completely different species!

andy serkis’ planet of the apes, koba


  • Toby Kebbell opened up about the difficulties of playing a chimpanzee in ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.’
  • He recalled how he later couldn’t leave the character behind thanks to method acting.
  • Andy Serkis also put a lot of thought into Caesar and took a method acting approach.
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Andy Serkis was absolutely incredible as Caesar in the relaunch of the Planet of the Apes franchise. Throughout the three movies, the actor made the audience connect with the highly intelligent chimpanzee. Fans were absolutely heartbroken when Andy Serkis’ Caesar met his end in War for the Planet of the Apes. Needless to say, the actor’s portrayal of the character was a huge reason behind the success of the films.

James Franco rise of the planet of the apes
Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)

However, he couldn’t have done it alone, and the rest of the cast members did an equally amazing job in their respective roles. This includes Toby Kebbell who played the role of Koba, a bonobo that absolutely loathes human beings. The actor gave his all to the character, so much so that he unexpectedly took the method acting route when it came to bringing Koba to life.

Toby Kebbell Opened up about the Difficulties of Playing Koba

Toby Kebbell Koba
Toby Kebbell as Koba in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)

Toby Kebbell joined the film series Dawn of the Planet of the Apes as Koba. Now, Koba is not a fan of the humans as he was used by them as a laboratory test subject, and so, naturally, he ends up detesting Caesar, too. In the end, Caesar refuses to help Koba and he falls to his death.


Before joining the franchise, Kebbell was under the impression that playing a chimpanzee was going to be a walk in the park. He wholeheartedly believed that he would just have to do a bit of “ooga booga” and the VFX team would handle the rest.

He once stated (via Yahoo! Movies),

“[Playing an ape was] vastly harder than I’d imagined. I thought it would be a bit of ‘ooga booga’ and they’ll do all the digital work and animate it, but it’s not that. The artists, they need the performance, they need the data. If that [performance] isn’t there and isn’t genuine… it just doesn’t work for them.”

Clearly, playing Koba was not at all what he expected. In fact, he even admitted that the constant switching between human and ape ended up pushing him, (and his co-stars), into method acting which made him actually feel like an ape. He also added that it was difficult to leave behind.


“You become an ape [on set]. We’d all be sitting around looking at our phones like this [mimics an ape with a smartphone]. Then you start getting off chairs using your knuckles, it’s truly bizarre. It’s hard to leave [behind].”

While method acting is quite common in the film industry, it sure is pretty bizarre that the actors in the Planet of the Apes franchise had to resort to it while playing apes.

Andy Serkis also Used Method Acting for Caesar

Andy Serkis in still from War for the Planet of the Apes (2017)
Andy Serkis in still from War for the Planet of the Apes (2017)

Andy Serkis is an excellent actor with a stellar filmography record. The Black Panther star has relentlessly worked towards improving his craft and has even employed method acting techniques to give his best in films like Lord of the Rings.

In a deep dive interview with Den of Geek, he discussed various aspects of his approach to acting. He revealed that he had based Caesar on a real chimpanzee named Oliver. He said,


“I always approached Caesar in Rise as a chimpanzee who believed himself to be a human inside of a chimpanzee body. He was brought up by human beings with a lot of love and therefore had this ability to be empathetic towards them. His growing up was a fairly idyllic childhood, up to a point… 

…There’s two things. I based him on a real chimpanzee called Oliver who in the 1970s was known as the humanzee…”

Serkis gave a great deal of thought and analysis to the character and thus developed a deep understanding of it.

“The core of Caesar’s character is that he’s an outsider of both worlds. That’s what really spoke to me.”

He added,

“I start to take the journey from pure chimpanzee to how I begin to make him evolve, physically, emotionally, psychologically…”

This level of deep study & attention to detail is what makes Serkis one of the finest actors in the film industry and Caesar one of the most unforgettable characters out there.


You can stream Rise of the Planet of the Apes on Disney+ & Dawn of the Planet of the Apes/War for the Planet of the Apes on Max.


Written by Mishkaat Khan

Articles Published: 1152

Mishkaat is a medical student who found solace in content writing. Having worked in the industry for about three years, she has written about everything from medicine to literature and is now happy to enlight you about the world of entertainment. She has written over 500 articles for FandomWire. When not writing, she can be found obsessing over the world of the supernatural through books and TV.