If you’re an avid TV watcher, it’s likely that Chad Rook has made an appearance in your living room at some point or another. The actor has enjoyed brief stints on shows like The Flash, Supernatural, and Bates Motel. And most recently, he’s been lending his many talents to the hit NBC show Timeless.
As much as fans have enjoyed Rook on the small screen, there’s little doubt that his passion and enthusiasm for his craft deserve a bigger platform. Cue in War for the Planet of the Apes, the highly-anticipated third installment of the Planet of the Apes reboot series. In it Rook plays Boyle, a loyal and pro-active human soldier who acts as Woody Harrelson’s right hand man.
I recently spoke with Rook about his character Boyle and his experience shooting the film:
TARA MARTINEZ: What can you tell me about your character Boyle Boyle and his role in the story?
CHAD ROOK: Basically, Woody Harrelson plays the colonel of the military squad that’s up against the apes in this film and I play Boyle who is one of Woody Harrelson’s go-to soldiers to get things done, especially when they need to be aggressively done or taken care of immediately. Boyle is the type of solider that’ll do anything to stop or completely eliminate the apes as a threat.
TM: How did you get this part? What was your audition process like?
CR: I actually had seven auditions for this film. And actually, my first four auditions were actually for an ape character, and I even went to Ape School after that with Terry Notary who teaches them all how to walk and act like gorillas or apes or chimpanzees or whatever, but I don’t know, I guess I must have sucked at that because then that’s when they asked to read for Boyle. They gave me the role of Boyle and I’m glad because, like I said, I had three more auditions but when I saw on set how difficult of a process they went through to perform like that, I was very much appreciative that I got the human role.
TM: The film looks incredible and there’s such a wealth of characters and visuals for the audience to take in. What was your experience shooting this film?
CR: Well, it was kind of a challenging film because we—it was more the elements that were more challenging in this film because we shot in Canada right during the heart of winter and they were all night shoots, all outside. So, the elements itself—and the thing is, because Matt Reeves, the director, really wanted that gritty feel to this film, whether it was raining or snowing or what have you, we were filming in it. And a lot of times, unfortunately in Vancouver weather in the winter, there’s a lot of rain. So, minus below weather and the rain is not too fun.
TM: Now, in those times when the weather was terrible and it was challenging on set, how did you keep morale high? What kept you going through all of it?
CR: A lot of the scenes that I’m in and stuff revolved around the whole squadron and all the soldiers would all be in there, so when you have 350 or 400 plus soldiers in the background all on set—first of all, you just shut up and you don’t say anything because they’re all in it with you, right? But, too, it’s just the adrenaline with having that many people in the scenes and that many crew all going through it. At the time, you kind of forget about it. It’s at the end of the day when you just realize how exhausting and how frozen solid you are.
TM: How was it working with Woody Harrelson and the rest of the cast?
CR: It was crazy because I’ve watched Woody since I was a kid and I watched Cheers with my dad, so to be able to work alongside him is one thing. But I think probably one of the coolest things I’ve ever experienced is to watch Andy Serkis transform into his character Caesar and just watch him onset how he goes from immediately one of the nicest guys—if he’s on set, he’s usually hugging someone and to watch him go from that to the director yelling action and immediately he’s into Caesar who’s in turmoil and facing extinction of his whole race, it’s a surreal thing and to watch that is pretty rewarding to say the least. It kind of motivates you to step up your game to try and match those guys.
TM: This film is part of a larger series of reboot films for the Planet of the Apes franchise. What will fans of the franchise love about this film in particular?
CR: I think the emotional storyline behind it—it’s not just one of those films like Avatar or something where you’re watching these CGI characters and you see them as CGI characters. The CGI is done so well and the story is told so well that the emotion behind those characters really kind of connects with the audience to the point where you forget that you’re even watching CGI, and you start actually rooting for the apes and stuff, and you know, you start feeling for them emotionally. I think that’s what really kind of grabs people in this as opposed to the old renditions that have been done in the past for Planet of the Apes.
TM: Let’s talk a little more specifically about acting. What draws you to acting? How did you get started?
CR: I believe it’s kind of stepping out of your shell, and do all the things that you would never get to do anywhere. I mean, the cars you get to drive, the cool guns you get to shoot, the action scenes, the wardrobe, everything like that. I’m filming a series called Timeless right now, and every week we’re in a different time period. So, we’re in the 90’s this week, then in the next week we’re in the 1930’s, and then we’re in the 2020’s. And it’s just stuff you don’t get to experience.
But when I started acting, I was actually in school and I was not the most popular kid in school, for example, and I went through, unfortunately, the whole bullying stuff. But when I was on stage during drama class, that kind of all went away. They didn’t seem like they thought of me—they laughed and they liked it and it just quickly became a safe haven for me to be on stage and stuff, and eventually it just became a passion.
TM: How do you usually prepare for a role?
CR: Well, it depends on if the character is already known or not, or if I get to start from scratch or not. But I think one of the main things I always go to is music. Music kind of brings truth to everything in emotions. It can trigger memories and all that kind of stuff. So if I, for example, play a bad guy, I’ll start to listen to music that’s maybe more heavy metal. It gets you in the mood; it’s a little bit more down and gritty, and it a ‘lets you get nasty’ kind of thing. And if I play a nicer character, I’ll probably listen to a little awesome country or something like that, you know? Because it kind of resonates in you and gives you a certain type of feel when you listen to music, so it’s definitely a big tool to help.
TM: You’ve been acting for a few years now. What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned over the course of your career?
CR: I think it was just to take my time, especially in the audition room and on set. It’s really owning the moment that you’re allotted, that you’re given. I think in my earlier career, I was trying to rush through things and then you start forgetting things and you start—it doesn’t sell the fact that you’re actually living in the moment or acting, so when I learned to actually take my time and own those scenes, it kind of transforms the performances.
TM: Are there any roles, or types of roles, that you’d love to play but haven’t gotten a chance to yet?
CR: Yeah, I would love to play a real life character that I was aware of in my life and not something that was before my time or anything. For example, if they did a movie on Kurt Cobain, I would love to take on a role like that that has so much for me to already work with. That, to me, would kind of be the pinnacle.
TM: Aside from War for the Planet of the Apes, where can fans catch you next?
CR: Timeless just got picked up for season two. Then we also start filming a new mermaid-based series this summer called Sirens. It just got picked up and I’m in that as well, so you can kind of keep an eye out for that one.
To learn more about Chad, check him out on Twitter at @ChadRook. War for the Planet of the Apes will hit theaters July 14th. Watch the trailer:
Tara Martinez is a New York-based writer with a passion for pop culture and a penchant for analysis. She frequently covers film, television, and representations of women in the media.