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Summer All-Star: Tim Roth

By Mark Salisbury

An indie veteran goes ape.

He's far more likely to be linked with edgy dramas than summer blockbusters, so it's a bit of a surprise to see Tim Roth starring in Planet of the Apes -- and playing a warrior chimp to boot. But Roth is here for one reason: director Tim Burton.

"I always wanted to work with Tim," says the 40-year-old British actor, who turned down a role in the upcoming Harry Potter film to play Thade, the planet's most fearsome ape and leader of the simian army. "It wasn't the budget that was particularly attractive about it; it was that he was at the helm." Signing on with Burton had its price, however: three hours in the makeup chair before the day even started. "The earliest call I had was 3 a.m., but some people got 2:30 pickups," Roth says. "You get depressed by [the makeup] sometimes, because you can't get out of it. It's not like you can take it off at lunchtime."

Long before the Apes remake was a reality, Roth discussed the original with the late Roddy McDowall, who had his own gripes about playing a chimp in the original films. "He obviously had a glee about the series," he says, "but we talked about how painful it was. There was even less flexibility with the makeup." Despite technical advances and the wizardry of makeup artist Rick Baker, "it's still very difficult to speak with the teeth in," Roth notes.

The results, however, are terrifyingly realistic. "The human association with chimpanzees is, 'aren't they cute.' I liked the idea of turning that on its head," the actor says. "We gave [Thade] incredible strength and power. We wanted him to be an animal."

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