I recently got the chance to talk to Ivan Wanis Ruiz about his role in ‘Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes’. Here, Ivan talks about how he got involved in the project and how he got into acting in the first place…
Hey Ivan. Thanks for taking the time out to talk to me. ‘Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes’ has just finished its theatrical release and will be released on DVD within the next few months.
Tell us a bit about the character you play in the movie…
The part I play would be described as a day player, meaning that it’s a one day job and usually has a generic name in the credits. In this case its Lab Tech #2 (or 1 can’t remember). The character is featured in two scenes interacting with the apes in the lab.
How did you get involved in the project in the first place?
Well this was the first job I ever booked. I auditioned for a different small part in the film (which was unnamed at the time). The funny part was that the time between audition and getting the part was almost 3 months so the call was a huge surprise. I actually remember getting the call in the car and freaking out a little bit when I found out who I was working with. The scene that I was scheduled for was over in about 5 hours, but the director (Rupert Wyatt) asked me to stay for another scene. For my first time on set needless to say it was amazingly awesome. I have this one funny memory when we were setting up the second scene with Mr. Franco, Mr. Oyelowo and Mr. Labine and Mr Wyatt asked everyone except the actors to clear out for a second. Not thinking I got up and started to leave and he had to yell after me “Ivan where are you going?” I think that is when the “holy shit I’m an actor” realisation hit.
Obviously, taking into account the previous franchise – which is your favorite ‘Planet Of The Apes’ movie?
The last one when the planet goes nuclear, I saw it when I was about 5 or so on TV and it totally traumatized me.
How would you say this film tries to stand out and be unique to it’s previous installments?
From the script I can tell you that it stays true to older versions in that the focus is not on the special effects but the underlying concepts of all of the Apes movies, e.g. prejudice and the frail human persona.
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?
Most of the time as a day player you do not really interact with the stars. Mr. Franco was nice, but kept to himself most of the time. He seemed to be a quiet subdued person. I unfortunately didn’t get the chance to meet Mr. Lithgow or Mr. Cox.
If an ape could suddenly talk, what do you think it’s first words would be?
Let’s fuck or let’s eat.
Let’s talk a bit about you Ivan. What made you want to get into acting in the first place?
In high school I tried it and loved it. I actually had an amazing opportunity present itself to me in my final high school year that I never pursued and it haunted me for over 10 years. It still stings my heart when I think of what could have been. I come from a family of actors who always told me to never become an actor so I guess I tried to follow the road of what I should do rather that what I wanted to do. I am never happier than when I am auditioning or on-set. Seriously I love auditioning.
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to get into the industry?
Think about it as a job and not an appraisal of talent. Know the industry, how decisions are made, etc. What do agents do, casting directors, etc. I will give you an example. I live in Vancouver where the industry is very different from LA. An example is that in Vancouver there are a handful of casting directors who handle the vast majority of all the work that happens in film and TV, while in LA there are hundreds. Therefore knowing the casting directors and making a good impression on them is crucial in Vancouver.
If you could have a dinner with three historical guests – (living or dead) – who would you choose to invite and why?
Well if they were not related to the acting. Ghengis Khan, Julius Cesear and Sam Walton. They were all so driven.
What has been the most interesting piece of local / national news you’ve heard in the last month?
I am completely out of touch with real world affairs. I don’t have a TV, but I was on the highway and all the signs had an amber alert for a kidnapped kid and that has been in the news lots.
You’ve had numerous roles in different indie films and TV projects – which has been your favourite project to be part of?
There was this one film (my first one actually) called ‘Kayfabe’, which was a mockumentary about small time professional wrestling and it was super fun. Not only did I get to learn how to “wrestle”, I got to wear a spandex silver suit.
What’s coming up for you in 2011?
I have a TV pilot coming out this fall, but I am not allowed to talk about it. Aside from that its the life of a working actor. Auditioning, rehearsing for no reason, and trying to network as much as possible. To really be successful in this business the work ethic is important. You have to be OK with long periods where you don’t book or even audition and use that time to make yourself better. I audition for student films, indie films, etc just for the practice and to keep me hungry for more.
Thanks for the interview!