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Virgil was a genius orangutan character, from Battle for the Planet of the Apes, the final original Apes movie from 1973. He was played onscreen by actor/musician Paul Williams.


A former student of orangutan pacifist Mandemus, Virgil went on to become Ape City's resident scientist and theoretical thinker, and an advisor and friend of Caesar. Apes and humans were both among his students, and he felt sorry for the humans' second-class status in Ape City, and opposed the violence and greed of the gorillas towards Caesar.

Caesar called Virgil away from his teaching work, to accompany him and Mr. MacDonald on a trip back to the Forbidden City, to search for recordings of his parents Cornelius and Zira, and information about Earth's future. Carrying a Geiger counter into the Forbidden City, Virgil warned Caesar plainly about the radioactivity and accompanying dangers. (He also authorized MacDonald to bring a pistol, in case he may "wish to shoot, cook, and eat a rabbit" during the trip; something humans were normally not allowed to do.)

Returning from the Forbidden City (after barely escaping with their lives, from mutated human survivors who stayed underground), Caesar and Virgil reluctantly prepared Ape City for a possible attack. General Aldo, called to action, saw the chance to take power instead. When Caesar's son Cornelius was gravely injured in a fall from a tree, MacDonald discovered the ends of the broken branch, determining they were cut, and he and Virgil deduced that Aldo was the culprit.

Virgil fought and led the apes when the mutant humans did attack, calling Caesar out to take charge. After the battle, he was the one who had to tell Caesar that Cornelius was murdered by Aldo. Later, he helped to rebuild Ape City, with its new status of ape and human equality. He set the standard for subsequent orangutans as the wise elders of ape society.


  • Jacob, son of Virgil, was a central character in Malibu Graphics Planet of the Apes comics. Jacob's nephew Bartholomew, possibly a grandson of Virgil, also featured.
  • The early scripts for Battle suggested that The Lawgiver from the framing sequences should resemble Virgil, implying they might be related.

Behind the Scenes

"Something less than two years ago I spoke with Paul Williams, the pop singer, who was filled with stories of the wonder of his first major acting assignment: playing an orangutan in the film Battle for the Planet of the Apes. During the shooting, Mr. Williams rose at 3:30 a.m., then stayed in makeup for three hours. During one such session, the makeup man, Kenny Chase, began discussing at length the merits of what was the favorite drink of both of them, the margarita. 'He drove me crazy talking about margaritas', Mr. Williams said. 'By noon I couldn’t take it anymore. I was really freaked out. I grabbed Kenny and pulled him into my car'. The car was a 1935 Bugati, 'not an inconspicuous car in any case, but here is this Bugati driving down Pico Boulevard at lunchtime with an orangutan behind the wheel. We drove to the Casa Escabar and went inside. Kenny took me by the arm and went up to the maitre d’. He asked him, ‘Can we have a table in a dark corner? We want to be alone’.'"

- CUE (November 18-24 1974).[1]


External Links


Virgil in Power Records' 'Battle for the Planet of the Apes'; illustration by Arvid Knudsen and Associates Virgil in Marvel's 'Battle for the Planet of the Apes'; illustration by Alfredo Alcala

Planet of the Apes - The Original Pentalogy Series
Planet of the Apes (APJ) Movies
Planet of the Apes | Beneath the Planet of the Apes | Escape from the Planet of the Apes | Conquest of the Planet of the Apes | Battle for the Planet of the Apes
Main Ape Characters
Zira | Cornelius | Zaius | Ursus | Milo | Caesar | Lisa | Virgil | Aldo | Cornelius II | Lawgiver
Supporting Ape Characters
Hunt Leader | Julius | Marcus | Galen | Honorius | Maximus | President of the Assembly | Lucius | Minister | Minister | Frank | Mandemus
Main Human Characters
George Taylor | Nova | John Landon | Dodge | John Brent | Mendez XXVI | Caspay | Ongaro | Albina | Fat Man | Lewis Dixon | Stephanie Branton | Otto Hasslein | Armando | Breck | MacDonald (Conquest) | MacDonald (Battle) | Kolp | Mendez I
Supporting Human Characters
Stewart | Maddox | Verger | General Winthrop | General Faulkner | The President | Chairman of the President's Committee of Inquiry | E-1 | E-2 | Inspector Hoskyns | TV Newscaster | Mrs Riley | Mutant Captain | Jake | Jake's friend
Horse | Gorilla in Zoo
Items / Weapons
Sacred Scrolls | Human Doll | Alpha-Omega Bomb | Grape Juice Plus
Important Events / Battles
Ape Rebellion
Bellatrix | Orion | Earth's Moon | Ape City | Forbidden Zone | Statue of Liberty | Queensboro Plaza | Radio City Music Hall | Grand Central Terminal | New York Stock Exchange | St. Patrick's Cathedral' | New York City | Jefferson Public School | Los Angeles | Los Angeles Zoo | Forbidden City | Ape City (Caesar's City) | Council
Betrayal of the Planet of the Apes | Exile on the Planet of the Apes | Planet of the Apes: Ursus| Planet of the Apes/Green Lantern | Kong on the Planet of the Apes | Tarzan on the Planet of the Apes
Soundtrack Music
Planet of the Apes (Soundtrack Album) | Beneath the Planet of the Apes (Soundtrack Album) | Escape from the Planet of the Apes (Soundtrack Album) | Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (Soundtrack Album) | Battle for the Planet of the Apes (Soundtrack Album) | Music Of The Planet Of The Apes