You could be forgiven for not realising that 44-year-old actor Jason Clarke was born and bred in Australia - the product of a rugged and remote part of Queensland, offspring of a professional sheep-shearer. After all, he has only ever played Americans on the big screen, in a series of memorable supporting roles: As "Red" Hamilton in Michael Mann's gangster epic Public Enemies, as garage-attendant George in Baz Lurhmann's The Great Gatsby, as determined CIA operative Dan in Kathryn Bigelow's lauded true-life thriller Zero Dark Thirty.
It is testament to the strong, steady upward thrust of Clarke's recent career (he has more recently been cast as John Connor in the new Terminator film) that Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes director Matt Reeves had the confidence to cast him as the lead non-ape actor in his ambitious continuation of chimp-revolutionary Caesar's saga. Clarke has that rare talent to convince as an everyman while also conveying uncommon determination, so he was, it was decided, perfect for the role of Malcolm, a one-time architect who, after the devastation of humanity by the man-made "simian flu", becomes a key member of the ravaged, surviving human community - and also an uneasy ally to Caesar (Andy Serkis) during a crisis which could see the recovering humans and ascendant apes wiping each other out...
1. On his excitement for the project
I went back and watched the original film and you know I remember you know loving the first one of that and just you know touch base with that again. And I, you know I saw a really, you know an intimate connection to that first film that, that was being, you know held onto, but then taken to another level in scope in the second one. And I thought, I thought you know this was going to be really exciting. You know it was something I would kind of like to do.
2. On the story
It was almost like a civil war with whatever's left you know they are isolated, you don't know who else is out there or what else is going on. And now this group of people has come together and stabilized itself. You know they've got a stable community which is able to protect itself and exist you know reasonably harmoniously, but it's at a point now where you know its resources are running out. And the threat of slipping back into what was is always over our shoulder. And so you know we're at that point where we're reaching out and trying to, to build again, you know to, to bring back in the tools that are necessary for us to go to another level. You know to cultivate and start to spread out and start to exist you know is what humans need and want. And that's where we bump into the apes, that's where the apes bump into us, neither of us knowing that the other existed.
3. On Keri Russell as "Ellie"
Keri, I mean she just brings a lot of energy, a lot of you know solidness, a lot of, you know she's a very grown up woman, Keri. You know she's, she's just strong and tenacious and you know the energy that she brings out there. She's not like you know a passive partner, and you couldn't have a passive partner in this world. You know it's a tough place. You know and you also find us on that verge of like panic again as everyone starts to realize that this little, you know utopia that we've had maybe for a year or a year and half is, is coming close to bursting at the seems. You know she's a hard woman. She's a strong woman, you know? And it's just what you know Malcolm needs.
4. On Gary Oldman as "Dreyfus"
Gary Oldman, one of my true heroes from you know, I mean truly one of the actors I've always, always wanted to work with. You know he's, once again you know Matt and the writers you know they've grounded him in a reality. He's not, you know he's a military, he's an ex-policeman, he's the military guy, he's the actual leader in our, in our little outpost. But you know it's not al gung-ho and, and you know he's clearly defined an aggressive guy who wants this and wants that, no, no. You know you get some understanding of why these people are the way they are and yes you know he's, he will take it if need be.
5. On the movie
It resides in our ongoing struggle in humanity of how we deal with ourselves and the world and our responsibilities and the joy and the amazing gift that it is, but also, you know, it's like being sick. You know that old saying of like if you have your health you have everything. And in terms of if we have our planet, if we have our world, if we have our ability to live, we have everything. And we find ourselves in a, in a point in this film where it might be over and we have to reach out to people that we've tried to dominate.
6. On the appeal of the film
You know I truly believe this is going to be an exciting thing to watch because you know it's a, it's rare these days you get a film on this scale, which is not, you know action driven, set piece driven. This is a big film which is set, which resides, which resides in a very you know heartfelt, interesting, thoughtful place where you get to have a you know a full experience in the theater I think. As well as being blown away by the wow, wow, wow. You know I, you know it manages to put you in; it manages to put you into Caesar's place. And the way Andy plays it makes that a whole lot easier you know to let you in and assume him and assume his responsibilities, as well as Malcolm's as well. What would these, what would you do in this situation? How would it go down? You know and how would you feel?
7. On working with Andy Serkis
Andy Serkis is, is well known as the guy at the forefront of all of this. And you know he's, he's got his guys and what they are doing is you know every day. It's amazing to watch. But his commitment is extraordinary. Andy brings it every single day. Every single day, whether the camera is on him or not. In credibly generous guy.
8. On "Malcolm's" journey in the film
You know I think that's beginning of Malcolm's journey. I mean I. you know in terms of you know really finding his own compassion and humanity back after what he's been through that, you know it comes, I think any, any leadership comes through sacrifice and at that point he's prepared to, he's prepared for come what may. He hopes I think that, you know that these apes will see reason, if they know how to understand, or how much they can talk he doesn't know, but you know he's willing to make that sacrifice that you know he might be gone and his son will be on his own.
9. On working with Matt Reeves
Matt's real strength is, is his ability to the story. You know at the end of the day Matt has a really clear idea of the story that he is telling, and under it all everything else is there to facilitate and aid that. And that's, you know that's what you, you want and respond to an actor. You know a guy there that's you know it's all about the small bits, the details, the moments, you know? And I think, you know both Andy and I you know really appreciate that as all the actors do. And you know and that's where this film resides. I think you know he's, he's crafted it, but Matt you know he knows where to put that camera, he knows you know what a, what a big action film this is as well. You know he, he's really, he's taken ownership of this piece. The script, the story and the film, you know? And that's what a good director does.