SEATTLE - Maurice, an orangutan, is played by actress Karin Konoval in War for the Planet of the Apes and was inspired by a longtime resident of Woodland Park Zoo.
His name was Towan, and Konoval first met him while studying primates in preparation for Rise of the Planet of the Apes, the franchise’s first film.
"I came here on my own steam to meet Towan because I heard that he painted,” she told Evening during an interview in 2014. “I met him at this lower window, and that's when he pressed his face to mine and that was the start of it."
After the first film came out, zookeepers set up a private meeting between the two.
"He gave me a piece of straw. And in the moment that he gave me that piece of straw... I can't even say, really...” Konoval said, tearing up. “You may have to stop filming for a moment, I didn't mean to move myself like that!”
That encounter lead to regular visits at Woodland Park, and when Konoval shot Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Towan inspired her performance for a second time.
"It was like he waved a magic wand and from the moment I met him, all the work I'd done previously came into focus and I was able to be Maurice,” she said.
In 2016, Konoval and the world said goodbye to Towan. The oldest orangutan in North America born in a zoo, he died at the age of 48 - one week after War for the Planet of the Apes wrapped filming.
His inspiration lives on with one final performance in what critics say is the best Apes movie yet.
War of the Planet of the Apes is rated PG-13 and opens June 14.
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