I recently got the chance to talk to Evans Johnson about her role in ‘Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes’. Here, Evans talks about how she believes this film stands out from its previous instalments, and how she got into acting in the first place…
Hey Evans. Thanks for taking the time out to talk to me. ‘Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes’ is currently in UK cinemas and has also been released worldwide. The film is a origin story set in San Fransisco, where man’s own experiments with genetic engineering lead to the development of intelligence in apes and the onset of a war for supremacy.
Tell us a bit about the character you play in the movie…
I play one of the Boardroom Executives that Will Rodman (James Franco) comes to ask for money from so they can go from animal testing to human testing. The round table discussion doesn’t make the final cut of the movie so my character is relied upon to sell the story on emotion and expression. Which is greatly needed as Bright Eyes bursts onto the scene.
How did you get involved in the project in the first place?
I auditioned for the role of a lab technician and director Rupert Wyatt cast me as a Boardroom Executive instead.
Obviously, taking into account the previous franchise – which is your favourite ‘Planet Of The Apes’ movie?
I’m biased. I love the movie that I’m in. Every time I work on a film or television series I fall in love with the production. I’m extremely passionate about what I do so this movie has a piece of my heart.
How would you say this film tries to stand out and be unique to it’s previous instalments?
The computer-generated imagery used to create the incredible real appearance of the apes allows the film to stand out and be unique from the other ‘Planet Of The Apes’ installments. It’s easy to forget while watching the movie that I worked with a human not an ape. The emotional connection and relationship created between the human actor and the human ape actor is two-fold because the human actor always has to keep in mind that we’re interacting with an ape not a human and create emotions and reactions towards an ape that we can’t see during filming.
The film stars the likes of Andy Serkis, James Franco, John Lithgow and Brian Cox – what was it like working with the cast and crew on-set?
It was really special to work with James Franco, David Oyelowo and Terry Notary (Bright Eyes). I love being able to observe actors in their “element”. I loved watching them go over lines, warming up or simply relaxing during camera changes. I was able to make some mental notes and steal some tricks from the actors that I’ve been applying to my craft. The crew and director Rupert Wyatt were amazing to work with as well. Everyone knew what they wanted which made working on the set a delight.
If an ape could suddenly talk, what do you think it’s first words would be?
“You humans take so much for granted, just eat a banana and enjoy every second of the sunshine.”
Let’s talk a bit about you Evans. What made you want to get into acting in the first place?
I started acting when I was thirteen when I was cast as the Nutcracker in my school play. After that production I kept doing theatre and studying dramatic arts until the beginning of University. During my second year of University, I realized film and television acting was my passion. I didn’t love studying and learning about Kinesiology or Political Science and it came to me while sitting in lectures that I was happiest being on set and in front of the camera.
Which movies and actors has inspired you as an artist?
The actor that inspires me the most is Jeffrey Wright. He’s a brilliant actor. Extremely underrated. I love character actors, like Johnny Depp. Not everyone can be a character actor and these two men do it so well. Both actors should be decorated with Oscars. The movie that has stolen my heart time after time is ‘The Notebook’. Mainly because the two leads are Canadian but also because the movie is absolutely beautiful.
What does an Evans Johnson day usually consist of?
Exercise, reading and working on my breast cancer campaign that I recently launched called Paint Yourself Pink. I try to do something for my craft everyday so I’ll usually read a book and talk in different accents and create new unique voices. It’s fun and weird but it keeps me happy and always smiling.
What has been the most interesting piece of local / national news you’ve heard in the last month?
The riots in London has been the most interesting piece of news I’ve heard in the last month. The voice and the actions of the people are strong. As a unified group there is much that the masses can accomplish. My hope is that people would unite for good rather than evil and spread love around the world.
You’ve had numerous roles in different films and TV projects – who has been your favourite actor to work with and which has been your favourite project to be part of?
Working with Heather Locklear was a dream come true. She’s beautiful, sexy, charming and a breath of fresh air. She plays strong, confident women so well and reminds me of myself. We can play crazy, twisted powerful women that mean business and yet are sweet as pie. Working on the 200th episode of ‘Smallville’ was incredible. I’ve always wanted to work on ‘Smallville’ so when I did I was like a kid in a candy store.
What’s coming up for you in 2011?
Currently I’m working on my breast cancer campaign Paint Yourself Pink. October is approaching and that’s breast cancer month so I’m planning to get people painting so we can raise money for the research and treatment of breast cancer. The campaign is so much fun and I’m completely in love with the mission. If you’d like to join the movement you can follow @PaintYoureslf on Twitter and like the Facebook page, Paint Yourself Pink.
Thanks for the interview!