July 04, 2014 | 9:00 a.m.
Before Francis Ford Coppola shot “The Godfather,” he gathered his cast for a meal during which the actors all reflexively began deferring to Marlon Brando, establishing a crucial dynamic of the film. Last April in a forest in British Columbia, when director Matt Reeves wanted to inaugurate another feared and respected screen leader, Andy Serkis’ simian ruler, Caesar, in “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” he remembered that story, which Coppola had shared with him at a film class. “I had imagined that Caesar was the Don Corleone of the apes,” Reeves said. Reeves sent his cast of ape actors through improvisations to help establish Serkis’ character as the alpha. “The emotional life of the apes was the thing I was desperate to explore.” And just as Brando relied on a quiet virility to communicate Corleone’s authority, Serkis built […]