“I wasn’t aware they were going to try to get my character live at the end [and] survive the uprising,” Murray says. “That was a decision that was made after the film was finished. It’s something I didn’t expect, of course, because of the way it was filmed. I think that was a decision that was [made] so they could make another one Apes movie.” (Both parts are now available on Blu-ray.)
This Conquest actor almost didn’t make the final
One actor who was not around for the film’s climax was Lou Wagner, who first appeared in the original. Planet of the Apes as Zira’s brash, outspoken young cousin Lucius. Wagner was invited again to play an unrelated role in conquestbut it turned out very differently than he initially thought.
“I get the call for” conquest and my agent drafts the contract,” Wagner recalls for us over the phone. “I have the best bill I’ve ever had in any of the movies, and I have a three-week warranty. I’d be Roddy’s right-hand man and accompany him until the end of the film as his partner, doing whatever he needs to. So I get there the first day, and I’m in makeup and the producer comes in and he says, ‘What are you doing here?’”
As it turned out, a script meeting the previous weekend resulted in Wagner’s monkey character being cut out of the film almost entirely. Instead, he was recast as a monkey busboy who can be seen briefly in two scenes: first stealing a set of knives from the restaurant to help Caesar build a stash of weapons, then setting fire to the restaurant itself in one of the The film’s first direct actions. monkey disobedience.
Wagner shot both scenes in one day. “The end of the day comes and they said, ‘Would it be all right if we take your billing away? We’ll give you three more weeks [pay], but we don’t want to give you the bill.’ I said, ‘No, sorry, a contract is a contract.’ So I kept my billing, I got paid for three weeks and at the end of the day I was done.”
Although Wagner was paid for his original time, he now says the studio was clearly interested in investing as little money as possible in the Apes franchise despite the strong box office performance of every film in the series (conquest cost only $1.7 million to make).