Planet of the Apes Wiki

James Grover Franciscus (January 31, 1934 – July 8, 1991) was an American actor from Clayton, Missouri. In 1969, Arthur P. Jacobs and writer Paul Dehn began putting together the script treatments for a film project known as Planet of the Apes: Revisited. The production staff wanted actor Charlton Heston to reprise his role as Colonel George Taylor, but Heston did not want to commit himself to a Planet of the Apes sequel. The treatment was re-written and Taylor's scenes were crafted around a new character, John Brent. James Franciscus, known for his various television roles throughout the 1960's including Mr Novak (1963-65), was tapped to play the role of Brent. The producers partially chose Franciscus because they believed he physically resembled his predecessor, Charlton Heston. By this point, the title of the sequel changed to Beneath the Planet of the Apes. James appeared in only one film in the Planet of the Apes pentalogy.

Franciscus made his disappointment with the script known to Heston privately: 25 March, 1969 - "Jim Franciscus called, frothing at what he feels are the inadequacies of the APES 2 script. I'm inclined to agree, but I don't know how much can be improved."[1] He also disliked the bleak climax of the film (which Heston in fact claimed credit for): "I thought the ending was awful. A picture without hope...I think Ted (Post, director) and I PLEADED for someone to survive this mess, be it Chuck (Heston)'s character or the girl or Brent's character - SOMEBODY far enough away from the explosion for whatever reason so that mankind is still left".[2] On set, however, co-star Linda Harrison found him to be thoroughly professional: "Jim was the kind of actor who did a lot of homework behind the camera, a method actor. He took it very seriously, he was very dedicated."[3] Director Ted Post also reserved special praise for James Franciscus, whom he called "a remarkably dedicated craftsman."[4] Just days before shooting began, Franciscus injured his ankle while playing tennis. Those sequences in which he could not disguise his slight limp were attributed to the fact that his character may have suffered an injury during the crash of his spaceship.[5] Reportedly, James Franciscus was offered the role of Virdon in the 1974 Planet of the Apes TV series, but turned it down.[6]

James Franciscus, Ted Post & Natalie Trundy

External Links[]


  1. The Actor's Life: Journals 1956-1976 by Charlton Heston (1978)
  2. 'Planet of the Apes Revisited' by Joe Russo and Larry Landsman.
  3. 'Starlog - Woman of the Apes' (April 1995)
  4. 'Cinefantastique Planet of the Apes Issue' (1972)
  5. Planet of the Apes: 40 Year Evolution, by Lee Pfeiffer & Dave Worrall (June 2008)
  6. Secrets of the Planet of the Apes, by Mark Phillips - Starlog #371 (December 2008)