Apes sequel casts new leading man, reveals intriguing plot details

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Feb 19, 2013, 2:06 PM EST

Looks like there are a couple of big changes coming for Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.

For one thing, there's a new star. Say goodbye to James Franco and say hello to Jason Clarke. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Clarke just nabbed the lead role in the Apes sequel, which will be directed by Cloverfield's Matt Reeves. Though you might have seen him in flicks like Public Enemies and in the short-lived series The Chicago Code, Clarke is best known these days for his work as a tough CIA interrogator in Kathryn Bigelow's acclaimed and controversial Zero Dark Thirty. It's a breakout role that was bound to land Clarke plenty of other acting opportunities, and he's apparently decided his next big job should be sci-fi. 

But that's not the only big news here. Most of Dawn's plot will likely remain a secret until we're a good bit closer to the release, but THR is reporting a few new tantalizing details to go along with the news that Clarke is coming aboard. For one thing, the sequel will be set 15 years after the events of Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and will feature at least two major plotlines. One will include a group of scientists fighting to survive in San Francisco (which, if you'll recall, took quite a pounding from the apes in the first film), while another will follow ape resistance leader Caesar (Andy Serkis) as he tries to maintain authority over the apes. Where does Clarke fit in? We don't know yet, but this certainly sounds like a combustible mix of elements.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is expected to begin shooting sometime this spring for (hopefully) a 2014 release date. What do you think? Is Clarke good casting?

(Via THR)