Arnold Schwarzenegger (born July 30, 1947) is an Austrian-American bodybuilder, actor, and politician. Schwarzenegger's first acting role was as Hercules in 1970's Hercules in New York, credited under the name "Arnold Strong". He struggled to find success as an actor throughout the 1970s, but his breakthrough film was the sword-and-sorcery epic Conan the Barbarian (1982), followed by a sequel, Conan the Destroyer (1984). In 1984, he appeared in director James Cameron's science-fiction thriller film The Terminator. Schwarzenegger went on to star in Red Sonja (1985), Predator (1987), Twins (1988), Total Recall (1990) and Kindergarten Cop (1990), and returned as the title character in 1991's Terminator 2: Judgment Day, which was the highest-grossing film of 1991.
By December 1993, Oliver Stone had signed on as executive producer/co-writer of a proposed new Planet of the Apes movie. Stone's preference was for a story based on apes from an ancient civilization, with biblical connections. He explained in December 1993, "It has the discovery of cryogenically frozen Vedic Apes who hold the secret numeric codes to the Bible that foretold the end of civilizations. It deals with past versus the future. My concept is that there's a code inscribed in the Bible that predicts all historical events. The apes were there at the beginning and figured it all out."
Stone recruited Terry Hayes to write the screenplay, having previously had hits with Dead Calm, Mad Max 2 - The Road Warrior and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. Titled Return of the Apes, Hayes' screenplay was set in the near future where a plague is making humans extinct. Geneticist Will Robinson discovers the plague is a genetic time bomb embedded in the Stone Age. He time travels with a pregnant colleague named Billie Rae Diamond to a time when Palaeolithic humans were at war for the future of the planet with highly-evolved apes. Robinson and Diamond discover a young human girl named Aiv (pronounced Eve) to be the next step in evolution. They protect her from the virus, thus ensuring the survival of the human race 102,000 years later. Billie Rae gives birth to a baby boy named Adam.
In March 1994, Stone secured the interest of Arnold Schwarzenegger, who signed on as Will Robinson with the condition he had approval of director. Phillip Noyce (Dead Calm, Patriot Games, Clear and Present Danger) was selected in January 1995, and pre-production was planned with a $100 million budget. Stone first approached Rick Baker to design the prosthetic makeup, but eventually opted for Stan Winston. A later, uncorroborated, rumor claimed that Ben Kingsley was in line for the role of the scientist who travels back in time, with Schwarzenegger cast as the leader of the Stone Age men in the distant past - a role perhaps more suited to the muscular action hero.
Schwarzenegger anticipated a violent, gory interpretation of Stone's conspiracy-theory concept. Yet, while Fox's Peter Chernin called Hayes' time-travel action romp "one of the best scripts I ever read", Fox became frustrated by the distance between their approach and Hayes' interpretation. According to Jane Hamsher, Fox studio executive Dylan Sellers felt the script could be improved by including comedy elements. "What if Robinson finds himself in Ape land and the Apes are trying to play baseball? But they're missing one element, like the pitcher or something," Hamsher quoted Sellers, "Robinson knows what they're missing and he shows them, and they all start playing." Sellers refused to give up his baseball idea, and when Hayes turned in his final draft in spring 1995, sans baseball scene, Sellers fired him. As Don Murphy put it, "Terry wrote a 'Terminator' and Fox wanted 'The Flintstones'". Dissatisfied with Sellers' decision to fire Hayes, Phillip Noyce left Return of the Apes in February 1995. Oliver Stone switched his attention to other film projects, and Don Murphy and Jane Hamsher were bought off the project by Fox.
Director Chris Columbus (Home Alone, Mrs Doubtfire) took over the helm next, hiring scriptwriter Sam Hamm (Tim Burton's Batman, an unproduced treatment for a Watchmen movie, and Columbus' co-writer on an unproduced Fantastic Four script). Hamm's final Planet of the Apes draft kept some aspects of Terry Hayes' script but owed much to Pierre Boulle's source novel. An ape astronaut from another planet crash-lands in New York harbor, launching a virus that will make human beings extinct. Dr. Susan Landis, who works for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Alexander Troy, an Area 51 scientist, and a team of pilots and scientists use the ape's spacecraft to return to the virus' planet of origin, hoping to find an antidote. They find an urban ape civilization, led by 'Lord Zaius', where apes armed with heavy weapons hunt speechless humans. Landis and Troy discover the antidote and return to Earth, only to find in their 74-year absence that apes have taken over the planet. "We tried to do a story that was simultaneously a homage to the elements we liked from the five films, and would also incorporate a lot of material [from Boulle's novel] that had been jettisoned from the earlier production," Hamm said. "The first half of the script bore little resemblance to the book, but a lot of the stuff in the second half comes directly from it, or directly inspired by it." Arnold Schwarzenegger remained attached over the course of the summer of 1995, but after Hamm's script failed to meet Fox's approval, Columbus dropped out in late 1995.
Next, James Cameron was in talks to executive produce and write. Peter Jackson turned down directing the film with Schwarzenegger as star and Cameron as producer, recognizing that they would probably conflict over the direction. Fox still maintained that the film would be made. Kevin Costner, Harrison Ford & Patrick Swayze were all rumoured for the starring role, but in January 1997 it was reported that Arnold Schwarzenegger was still attached and had been in talks with Cameron's development company, Lightstorm Entertainment, regarding the Apes film. Cameron was rumored to have completed a screenplay by November 1998, with Schwarzenegger still earmarked for the lead. Michael Bay was suggested as director, but Peter Hyams (Capricorn One, 2010) was ultimately chosen. However in December, Fox rejected Hyams as director and Cameron, disillusioned, quit the project. Schwarzenegger also ended his association with the movie around this time.
- Arnold Schwarzenegger entry at Wikipedia
- Arnold Schwarzenegger entry at the Internet Movie Database (IMDb)
- The Planet of the Apes Chronicles, by Paul A. Woods
- 'Monkey Business' (Entertainment Weekly), by Cindy Pearlman
- Tales From Development Hell, by David Hughes
- 'The Apes of Wrath' (Entertainment Weekly), by Anne Thompson
- Planet of the Apes Fanclub news page
- 'Monkey Business' (Entertainment Weekly), by Jeffrey Wells
- Killer Instinct, by Jane Hamsher
- Peter Jackson: A Film-maker's Journey, by Brian Sibley