[Interview] Karin Konoval – ‘War For The Planet Of The Apes’

Set to release on July 14th the newest installment in the Planet of The Apes Universe; War For The Planet of The Apes will take moviegoers on an adventure ride as we follow Caesar’s story of his apes who are forced into a deadly conflict with an army of humans led by a ruthless colonel. The fate of both humans and apes will be determined as the epic battle ensues.

iHorror was granted the opportunity to speak with Actress Karin Konoval who has portrayed the orangutan Maurice in all three Ape films. Konoval is no stranger to horror fans as they will remember her portrayal of Billy’s Mother in the bloody 2006 remake of Black Christmas. During the interview, Konoval describes the astonishing story of how she became acquainted with orangutans and studying their behavior for her role as Maurice.

War For The Planet Of The Apes Releases July 14th. Check Out The Trailer Below.



War For The Planet Of The Apes – “Meeting NOVA” Clip



(Photo: Courtesy Of 20th Century Fox).

Interview With Karin Konoval – Maurice


Ryan T. Cusick: Hi Karin, how are you?

Karin Konoval: Good, thank you.

RTC: Good, I am really excited to talk to you today, we will go ahead and get right into it. How did you go about getting into acting?

KK: Gosh, well I was a dancer originally when I was a child, and then eventually I went to University and actually enrolled in a degree in honours languages and then somewhere along the way in the first year I went  – I think I got involved in a play in university and from there went, I think this is what I’m supposed to do! So, it sort of evolved like that. And then once I made the decision to become an actor – I did finish my University degree – then after that I went to an acting school and then somehow was able to use everything I’d explored so far in my career. I mean, doing musicals, which requires dancing and singing.

RTC: That is great, sounds like you have had your hand in a little bit of everything. I had read for research that you studied with a real orangutan and took that knowledge and applied it to your character Maurice, is that accurate?

KK: One orangutan in particular is the inspiration for Maurice, and that orangutan’s name is Towan. Towan was a mature male orangutan who lived at Woodland Park Zoo and inspired me throughout the three films. I went as a visitor to study him in August of 2010 – this was not anything official, just me going there as a visitor – and he actually came to the window to greet me, and it was a very, very special connection. But then, after the first film came out — and he really inspired Maurice heart and soul from the get go — but once “Rise” came out, and I had spoken publicly about Towan’s inspiration for me  — I was invited there to be introduced to him and the other orangutans. So I went, and had this introduction, and that was the beginning of a journey that’s still going on today. Unfortunately, Towan passed away the week after we finished filming “War for the Planet of the Apes”, which was a terrible loss. But at the time, he was the oldest male orangutan in North America, 48, which is extremely old for an orangutan. And I was able — I actually wrapped filming on “War” around March 19th — I had a feeling I should go down there to visit him. And it’s a good thing I did: I was able to spend his last afternoon outside in the sun, painting for him at the window where we first met.

Karin Konoval, left, and Amiah Miller in Twentieth Century Fox’s “War for the Planet of the Apes.”

RTC: Oh man, that is amazing!

KK: Yes it is. And Towan – whose name translates as “Master” –  truly was the master! His picture’s right in front of me as I’m talking to you right now. This is an extraordinary — an extraordinary being — I’d say “orangutan” but I would also say one of the most extraordinary teachers I’ve ever met in my life, human or any species. And what I learned from Towan, and from the rest of his family of orangutans who I continue to visit, has been amazing over the last six years. It’s really incredible. This journey for me became a very personal one to learn about orangutans that’s gone well beyond the films, to learn about them and to support and follow people working in conservation on their behalf in Borneo and Sumatra is a huge part of my life, now. What a gift, hey?

RTC: Wow, I really had no idea.

KK: Yah, don’t get me started talking about orangutans, I could go on for three hours, truly!

RTC: Have you thought about writing a book?

KK: On “orangutan time”! I have documented every visit and every exchange for the past six years, my visits to the orangutans in Seattle, and at some point there will be a time for that. And of course the trajectory of my friendship with Towan, yes. But it’s just not time yet. There’s also  so much —- because I largely consider myself a “student” of orangutans, the learning keeps going on — so, speaking about it is less important than me continuing to learn.

RTC: Yeah, that does make a lot of sense. Did you watch any of The Planet of The Apes films from the seventies?

KK: I saw the 1968 film on tv I think in the 70’s? I was born in 1961 so I didn’t see it in the movie theatre  in ’68 – but I think on tv sometime in the 70’s and you know, it was kind of quirky and interesting but it didn’t really resonate with me. But after “Rise” had opened — and I can’t say that I was a follower of the planet of the apes thing — but I’ve become genuinely interested in it since playing Maurice! And sometime after “Rise” opened, a friend of mine in Seattle took me to a screening of the ’68 film in one of those big theatres, you know, where they show it in Cinemascope? And oh man, that was amazing. One of the things that hit me in particular about it was the incredible soundscore for the film, it’s iconic in every conceivable way. And having spent a lot of my life in professional musical theatre, I was listening to the time signatures and going – wow! This was an incredibly sophisticated score. It’s a sophisticated piece on every level, and so I really appreciated it. But I haven’t seen the tv series.

RTC: Well, thank you so much it was a pleasure speaking to you.  

KK: You as well Ryan, thank you.

RTC: Looking forward to seeing the movie, take care. 


Twentieth Century Fox’s “War for the Planet of the Apes.”


Twentieth Century Fox’s “War for the Planet of the Apes.”



-About The Author-

Ryan T. Cusick is a writer for ihorror.com and very much enjoys conversation and writing about anything within the horror genre. Horror first sparked his interest after watching the original, The Amityville Horror when he was the tender age of three. Ryan lives in California with his wife and Eleven-year-old daughter, who is also expressing interest in the horror genre. Ryan recently received his Master’s Degree in Psychology and has aspirations to write a novel. Ryan can be followed on Twitter @Nytmare112