'War for the Planet of the Apes': Why One Scene With Caesar and Preacher Was Cut

Gabriel Chavarria tells THR of rooting against himself in his final scene against Caesar: "It was a strange, weird, interesting feeling."
Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox
Gabriel Chavarria in 'War for the Planet of the Apes'

[Warning: This story contains spoilers for War for the Planet of the Apes.]

Though War for the Planet of the Apes saw Caesar (Andy Serkis) go toe-to-toe with his almost-killer Preacher (Gabriel Chavarria) multiple times, one major faceoff was ultimately left out.

The scene was part of Chavarria's final round of auditions for the movie. After reading the action-packed opening sequence with Reeves in Los Angeles — complete with jumping, climbing and other moves for good measure — the actor was tasked with the missing, intimate moment between Preacher and Caesar (though he didn't know it was with the main ape of the Fox franchise at the time).

"Basically, Caesar is locked up and we could take him out at any time, and I'm telling him, 'The Colonel is my guy and you're the enemy,'" explained Chavarria. "I'm reminding him we're not friends, even though we recognized this humanity each other. Preacher was so conflicted because Caesar had let him live." During one take, Serkis shed a single tear that was so moving, it made Chavarria forget his next lines; luckily, that take included a camera glitch as well. In the end, the actor supposed the scene was cut because "it felt too forced, and the audience knew already how to feel about these two."

Director Matt Reeves previously told Heat Vision that Preacher's character was always set to be "a morally undecided character [who] keeps the audience on their toes" throughout the trilogy's final installment, and that the actor who played him had to clearly communicate that internal conflict with just a few facial expressions.

Chavarria, who was first discovered at 16 years old by a casting director for 2007's Freedom Writers with Hilary Swank and later starred in Hulu's East Los High series, nabbed the part — to his own surprise. "It's still a little surreal to think I'm the guy who shoots Caesar with an arrow," he told Heat Vision. "Working with Andy was amazing — he had this massive presence, and when he turns ape, he really is an ape. It was really easy to engage with him."

Oddly enough, Chavarria — seen next in the film Hunter Killer with Common and Gary Oldman, as well as the Fox pilot of the Behind Enemy Lines reboot — found himself rooting for Caesar (and therefore, against himself) in Preacher's final scene while at the film's premiere in New York City. "I literally had a moment to myself when I was like, don't do it!" he laughed. And when the audience cheered at his demise, "I'm not gonna lie, it was a strange, weird, interesting feeling. But Preacher deserved it, and it was a great moment for the character Red to redeem himself. I was cheering a little bit too!"

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