- "You worry about the humans."
- ―Cornelia senses Caesar's concern.
Cornelia was an evolved chimpanzee, the wife of Caesar and queen of the ape colony. She was a fellow inmate of Rocket, Maurice and Buck at the San Bruno Primate Shelter. She met Caesar during his stay at the shelter and formed a romantic bond with him. After Caesar's rise to power, she became his wife and bore him two sons, Blue Eyes and Cornelius. Because she was the queen of the ape colony, she was the matriarch of the Royal Ape Family.
Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Cornelia was born in Africa and thrived in the wild until she was captured and shipped to San Bruno Primate Shelter in San Francisco with fellow apes Rocket, Maurice, Buck, Lucky, Andy, Vanessa, Heston and countless other apes. One day, she picked up the scent of a new ape named Caesar, and with her fellow ape inmates, she lashed out, screeched, and hooted in hostility. The following day as she played with half of a juice container, Cornelia spotted Caesar as he entered the play area, and found him strange with his human clothes on. She even bared witness with all the other apes as the alpha Rocket attacked Caesar until Dodge Landon shot them both with tranq darts, which made Cornelia and the apes disperse.
Several nights later, Dodge invited a few friends over in the apes' cell room, and one of them gazed at Cornelia as she slept with her rocking horse. She was then woken and riled up as Dodge electrocuted the cells with his prod, aggravating her and the apes. Later in the night, Cornelia woke up again to see the apes in the cells in front of her look out in the play area as Rocket was forced to submit his alpha status to Caesar with the gorilla Buck by his side. Two days later, Cornelia watched from afar as Caesar's human father Will Rodman attempted to take him home, but Caesar declined and stayed in his cell. Sensing his sorrow with the other apes, Cornelia began to hoot in gratitude after Buck. That night, Cornelia watched Caesar made Rocket give a cookie to each ape in the cells. After eating hers, she joined the apes revel of unity.
The Awakening and Liberation
By daylight in the play area, Cornelia played with the half container again, pouring water over her hand as she grunted in happiness. Directing her attention to Caesar crouching on the center rock, she showed him the container in an offer to play, but he grunted his satisfaction in not playing. Turing her attention back to the small pool, Cornelia attempted to play again until two chimps attacked one another, forcing her to run in fear until the recall buzz was sounded. As the fight broke up, Cornelia and the apes returned to their cells, unaware of what Caesar has planned for the night. As Cornelia and the other apes slept, Caesar snuck out of the shelter and returned with vials of his human father's ALZ-113 virus and punctured them, exposing Cornelia and the apes to grant them enhanced intelligence. By sunrise, however, Cornelia was taken by John and Landon to Gen-Sys, which had began to rush its 113 trials.
At daylight, Caesar, with Maurice, Rocket and half of the apes from San Bruno's after their liberation, broke into Gen-Sys and proceeded to the testing area. Cornelia then watched as they began to release all the chimpanzees, herself included, and followed Caesar, who acted as a leader and grunted at the apes to leave Gen-Sys. Once Cornelia, Caesar, Rocket, Maurice and the chimpanzees smashed their way out of Gen-Sys, they rendezvous with Buck's troop in the city, which now included all the chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans from the zoo, with a couple of metal rods from the zoo apes' exhibit. Making their way through the city, Cornelia and the apes followed a street car while Caesar, Rocket, Maurice and Buck chose to board it, viewing their next destination: the Golden Gate Bridge.
Battle at the Golden Gate Bridge
Once at the bridge, Cornelia and the apes made their way through the cars, startling the humans inside. Halfway through the bridge as Caesar gave the command to stop, Cornelia and the apes halted in place as he saw Caesar surmised the humans have both ends of the bridge blocked by their law enforcement officers. Cornelia saw Caesar ordering the chimpanzees to go up and over on the bridge's cable suspenders, led by a one-eyed bonobo named Koba, and the orangutans, led by Maurice, and ape mothers with children went underneath the bridge. Cornelia joined the mother and younglings while Maurice and the orangutans swing underneath them from the bars. As Caesar gave the call to attack, Cornelia, the ape mothers and young remained in the bridge's interior as the orangutans climbed up, waiting for the battle to end. As the battle reached a conclusion, Cornelia, the mothers and young joined up with the apes, noting the loss, including Buck, before resuming their journey to the woods.
Reaching the Muir Woods, Cornelia and the apes began to move freely until they spotted Caesar stopping Koba from harming Caesar's human father, whom followed them from the bridge. Cornelia watched Caesar bid farewell to Will and headed to the apes. As Caesar walked toward his kind, Rocket and Maurice expressed their gratitude as Caesar approached the same tree he first climbed five years ago. To express their gratitude for their liberation, Cornelia and the apes stood upright on their legs like Caesar before he climbed the tree and reached the top to view the damage on the bridge and prepare for the dawn of the apes' new life.
Surviving in the Harsh Woods
Cornelia was seen treating the injured apes after the battle on the Golden Gate Bridge and was seen to be uninjured in the fight. Upon seeing Caesar she went to him, lowering her head and extending her hand somewhat reluctantly. Caesar ordered her to follow Maurice to safety. Agitated and defiant, she told him that when the injured apes moved they hurt more and that they required rest. Caesar shook his head, telling her that if they stayed put they'd be slaughtered. Cornelia attempted to stand her ground but Caesar threatened her prompting her to stand down to help the injured to their feet.
Later as the apes were getting hungry, Cornelia revealed to Caesar and Maurice that she was born in the wild and that the food in the forest is very different to that in the jungle in which she grew up. Caesar dismissed her comments despite Maurice attempting to talk him around. Caesar admitted, however, that he admired Cornelia for her willingness to help.
Bonding with Caesar
Later, she found Caesar sitting alone in a tree. They talked as Cornelia groomed and she praised him for his efforts to keep the apes safe. Caesar who was expecting her to complain about something he was doing wrong, was surprised at her praise.
When the humans attacked the forest with fire, Cornelia was almost killed. Caesar pushed her into the river until the humans and the fire were gone. Later, Cornelia found Caesar sitting in a tree again and groomed him as they watched the lights in the city go out.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
A decade later
After ten years of living in the Muir Woods Park, Cornelia has happily married Caesar becoming queen of the now growing Ape Colony and it is through her love and support that he is able to lead the other apes. In the time before the Ape Village's creation she and Caesar were given a young son Blue Eyes (named for his blue iris') who became the prince and couple's treasured heir. Sometime later she and Caesar learned that, they were expecting another child in the near future.
A Second child
Upon Caesar and Blue Eyes returning to the village after their hunting trip, she has her midwives summoned Caesar before she delivers and with her husband by her side she gives birth to a second son. Caesar sat with her and held her hand as they bonded over their new child when Blue Eyes entered just moments later. After telling their oldest son to come meet his new brother, the three bonded over the new addition to their now expanded family.
Later, as Caesar was settling down for the night, he saw that she didn't appear to be well and asked if she was okay. She replied that she was and that she just needed rest. Her health took a turn for the worse while her family was at the dam with the humans. When they returned, she had one of her midwives summon them and they hurried to her side to see that she hadn't got long to live. A moment later, Malcolm and Ellie entered to apologize for Carver's earlier behavior and saw what was going on. They pleaded to Caesar to allow Ellie to help but Caesar, forever stubborn, reflected on what happened at the dam, telling them he didn't trust them. The humans continued to plead with him, prompting Caesar to turn to his sick wife. He dismissed Malcolm but allowed Ellie to stay telling her that one day, they would live together in peace. Ellie then proceeded to heal her.
A few days later, when the power to the city had been restored, Cornelia, now well enough, joined the celebrations with the humans, much to the astonishment of Blue Eyes who was the first to embrace her. She then embraced Caesar but moments later, Caesar was shot by a hidden Koba. Cornelia cried out as her husband fell off the ledge, presumably to his death. Blue Eyes held her as she grieved. She was then sent with the other females and young to the forest by Koba who, unknowingly to everyone else, had shot Caesar and framed the humans for the crime.
On the way to the Rodman House, Caesar asked Ellie about the safety of his family, and she told him she didn't know. A few hours later, Malcolm returned to the house with medical supplies and Blue Eyes, who he had found in the apartment. A recovering Caesar asked his son about his mother and brother, and Blue Eyes told him that they were safe for the time being.
Reunion with her family
A few days later, Blue Eyes returned to his father having rescued Maurice, Rocket, Luca and others from Koba and told his father that Koba was going to move the females and young from their safe haven in the woods. Caesar, sensing that his wife and youngest son were now in danger, told Blue Eyes and the others that they had to act now if they wanted Cornelia safe.
After Koba's defeat and death, Cornelia and the baby were reunited with Caesar and Blue Eyes, relieved to see that they were alive and safe. She then stands with her family as the other apes bow down to Caesar awaiting his guidance for the fighting to come.
War for the Planet of the Apes: Revelations
In Revelations, Cornelia is seen protecting her youngest son, Cornelius during the early stages of the human/ape conflict. After a missile shot by the humans destroys a nearby building, Caesar orders Cornelia and the other female apes to find shelter within the forest. Later, turncoat apes attempt to separate Cornelia from the rest of the females as she is their leader and they plan to overthrow Caesar. She outsmarts them and gets away. She meets up with Tinker and a few other apes later and they talk about their time in the primate shelter and their future before Cornelia returns to the group, where she defiantly refuses to go along with Grey as she is assisting another young ape during birth. After a small fight, Ceder, the wife of Grey asks Cornelia for forgiveness after taking her crown and declaring herself queen. More to come...
War for the Planet of the Apes
Cornelia is showing hugging Blue Eyes when he returns from his long journey and is at Caesar's side during the Ape Council meeting.
When Colonel McCullough infiltrates Caesar's home, he mistakes Blue Eyes for Caesar then kills Blue Eyes and Cornelia.
Cornelia and her son Blue Eyes' death caused her husband, Caesar to go out and hunt for their killer, J. Wesley McCullough. Caesar later mentioned their deaths to Winter to show him the consequences of his betrayal; before he unintentionally killed him.
Cornelia will be remembered for her caring nature and for being the wife of Caesar and mother of the future ape king, Cornelius.
It can be assumed that Maurice, Lake and Rocket would share stories of Cornelia's life with Cornelius so that the young prince doesn't forget his mother.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: Firestorm
When she was younger, Cornelia was known to be stubborn, defiant and often rebellious especially when it came to Caesar giving her orders, though this did not stop her from being kind to others and helping out whenever she could and attempting to stand up to her husband. Others, such as Maurice valued her input and knowledge of the wild and upon learning that the forest was very different to that of the jungle in which she grew up.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Cornelia had a child-like quality to her that was greatly respected. She was kind and was willing to help those who need it, whether it be ape or human. Her kind and loving personality makes her the ideal mother to her two young sons, Blue Eyes and Cornelius and is an equally loving and supportive wife and partner to Caesar. Seeing what her husband must endure on a daily basis as the leader of the ape colony, Cornelia serves as a calming presence to keep him grounded.
Cornelia was Caesar's loving wife and the mother of his children - but also the matriarch of his tribe. She selflessly provides comfort and support that help him lead. She can be stubborn and defiant, but ultimately Caesar admires her common sense and compassion". "Cornelia was the nurturer of the tribe, highly empathetic, she puts the health and safety of others above her own. Although peaceful by nature, she has a fierce inner-strength that fosters her community".
War for the Planet of the Apes: Revelations
Cornelia was shown as loving and fiercely protective, she embraces Caesar strongly after he think he almost loses her, and protects her young son with her life. She was also shown outsmarting apes that are trying to capture her. She attends the birth of another young ape, Rain, and gently forgives another, Cedar for attempting to defy her.
War for the Planet of the Apes
- High-Level Intellect: While at the Gen-Sys Laboratories Cornelia was experimented on, becoming exposed to the ALZ-113. She has green irises, a trait that is later passed on to her and Caesar's two sons, Blue Eyes and Cornelius. It is unknown how much her advanced intelligence and IQ has increased. She does appear to be a quick learner as seen in the Dawn prequel novel, Firestorm. Cornelia's advanced intelligence and IQ was later passed on to her two sons, Blue Eyes and Cornelius.
- Sign Language: Like her fellow apes, Cornelia knows American Sign Language. Cornelia uses it as a way of communication. She was one of the few apes after the Battle on the Golden Gate Bridge to display this ability after having watched Caesar, Maurice and Rocket communicate with it.
- Expert Healer/Medic: According to the Dawn prequel novel, Firestorm, Cornelia appears to be a gifted healer as Caesar finds her tending to the wounds of many of the apes who were injured during the fight on the Golden Gate Bridge.
- Speech: Having inhaled the ALZ-113, Cornelia had gained the ability of speech. This ability was later passed on to her two sons, Blue Eyes and Cornelius. She did not have any verbal lines of dialogue in Dawn and War respectively, so it was unknown how good her english was.
- Cornelia was named in tribute to Cornelius, played by Roddy McDowall and David Watson and one of the most recognizable chimpanzees from the original films, himself named after Cornélius from the 1963 source novel, La Planète des singes. Given her romantic connection with Caesar in early drafts of the script (and omitted scenes) of Rise of the Planet of the Apes, her name may also be a reference to Cornelia Cinna minor, the first wife of Roman general and statesman Gaius Julius Caesar.
- She is a similar character to Lisa from Conquest of the Planet of the Apes and Battle for the Planet of the Apes.
- Cornelia has only a brief appearance in Rise, but trailers released prior to the movie showed further scenes in the Gen-Sys Laboratories with Caesar which were omitted from the finished film. The motion-capture for the role was performed by professional dancer Devyn Dalton, suggesting that the character also featured in action sequences which were similarly edited out.
- An earlier version of the Rise script outlined that Caesar spent time in Cornelia's cage after learning how to free himself. Later, Will goes to the San Bruno Primate Shelter after Caesar has taken over and, believing Caesar to have murdered Robert Franklin, decides he has to kill Caesar to prevent further bloodshed. However, Cornelia eats the poisoned cookie Will offered to Caesar and dies before she can reach the Golden Gate Bridge, leaving Caesar both heart-broken and angry when he realizes the cause of her death.
- In the final version of Rise, Cornelia and Caesar have no direct contact or interaction. There is a scene however when Caesar is talking with Maurice where Cornelia holds up the plastic bottle that she is playing with, the shot then cuts to Caesar and he smiles at her.
- Judy Greer confirmed in interview that she would be playing the "love interest and companion to Caesar".
- Greer said that when she was shown concept art of the character she knew she was looking at a lady and that Cornelia appeared to be "so beautiful and regal and very feminine".
- In an interview with Crave Online, Judy Greer revealed that she wouldn't be involved in any action sequences but she did reveal that Cornelia would have a calming effect on Caesar and pretty much keep him grounded.
- On his Facebook page, Nick Thurston mentioned that he met Judy Greer during the later stages of filming, and later confirmed that he did share scenes with Judy Greer.
- Cornelia made an appearance in the footage that was shown at CinemaCon. She was wearing a crown made of flowers. In an interview at the same event, Andy Serkis confirmed that the ape was in fact Cornelia and that the scene was the celebration involving the recent birth of Caesar and Cornelia's second son.
- In an interview with Hitfix at WonderCon, Andy Serkis referred to Cornelia as the love of Caesar's life.
- According to Terry Notary in the film's first featurette, Cornelia has a very child-like quality.
- Cornelia seems to have been redesigned for Dawn. She has a longer nose then she did in Rise and her eyes are smaller than in Rise, perhaps reflecting the change of actress.
- In War, Cornelia and Blue Eyes are murdered by Colonel McCullough, which acts as a catalyst for Caesar's quest of revenge.
- See Cornelia/Gallery.
- Rise of the Planet of the Apes
- Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: Firestorm
- Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (novelization)
- Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (BOOM! Studios)
- War for the Planet of the Apes: Revelations
- War for the Planet of the Apes (novelization)
- War for the Planet of the Apes (BOOM! Studios)
- Judy Greer is Playing a Chimp in ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’, by Sandy Schaefer - Screen Rant (March 28, 2013)
- Judy Greer Talks Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes, by James White - Empire online (11 August 2013)