With the release of the new film RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES, the fact all the simians are computer animated will bring more than a spark of honored repose to the original movies, as well as the TV series that starred Roddy McDowall and, in two classic episodes, JACQUELINE SCOTT, recalling the time and effort to get those masks on.
You were part of the short-lived but brilliant television series PLANET OF THE APES…
It was just crazy that they didn’t continue them. They only did thirteen of the television shows and I did two, one playing a little farm wife [The Good Seeds]. And I was trying to get out of the Westerns because I’d done it so much that people thought I couldn’t talk any differently, so I had to get out of Westerns. And then I get this script for “Planet of the Apes” and it says: “The humans come over the hill and we see a little farm house.” I said, “Oh my God, now I’m gonna be an ape farm wife.” But I loved to do it. And then I played Roddy’s fiancé [The Surgeon] and if they had continued doing them, I would have been a recurring ape.
Why did the series get cancelled?
Because it’s so expensive – putting the makeup on was about three and a half, four hours. And then you could only wear the appliances once, and then they had to be destroyed. And they had to have the very best makeup man in the business on that show, because it was not easy to put the masks on. And they were in two pieces… And then they had to know how to lay the hair on your face, and hair on your hands, and it’s quite a complicated makeup job.
So with the combination of only being able to use the appliances once, and then the time that it took to put them on… And then they didn’t want to pay us to take them off, but we got around that, because if you could imagine driving home on a freeway in those ape masks – we would have caused about a five-hundred car pile up.
I was at the casting with Beverly Garland, and we were the only women who liked to work in them, and yet you never got used to them. You would walk past the mirror and just scare the living daylights out of yourself.
They had these crazy makeup men, and they were all funny. And when you start getting those appliances on you cannot laugh. And so it was not an easy thing to do, but they would be around stirring these huge vats all day long, pouring these into moulds. I had Kim Hunter’s mask… That mould fit me well enough they used that for me… They had all the moulds. I may be telling tales out of school here, but I don’t think so. But they used moulds; I think they probably had been originally done for different characters in the movie. And Roddy had a special one, you know… And to cross his path was to love him. He was the most wonderful person… He was just a lovely man.
There are some incredible expressions by the actors and actresses playing apes in the films and TV series…
Well that’s the brilliance of those masks because the area… The mask… It’s two-pieces. I don’t know if I can explain it to you but… The top goes on your forehead and over your nose and over your mouth… I mean – your own mouth is free. And then there’s just a chin that is separate, but the area around the edges of your mouth, and the edges of your eyes, are your own skin – and those are the two most expressive places on your face. So that’s the real brilliance of those masks and why they are, you know… Why you really think you’re watching a talking ape.
I don’t think they can do with computers what they did with those masks...
Yeah, they can’t make the human expression and feelings. I don’t know if you watch “Jeopardy.” The other night the contestant was playing the computer, and they said the computer cannot… It has no feelings, no emotion. So, you know, that’s of course what we had in those masks.
I just loved to work in them. Because you had to use a lot of the most expressive things that just happen as a reflex action, as an actress, that doesn’t happen because your hands are all covered with hair, and your face is all covered and your body… You have loose clothing and so you have to find very specific ways to express yourself different from what you generally would have to do. I just loved doing it. But the worst thing was having them on.
Like one day I had it on for eighteen hours, and Roddy said to me: “These don’t seem to bother you as much as they do other people.” And I said, “Well what are you gonna do, put ‘em on and complain all day?”
I really didn’t realize, but when I finished doing the shows, the next morning I opened my eyes and the first thought that crossed my mind was: “Thank Heaven I don’t have to put those masks on today.” And I never thought it bothered me… Isn’t that interesting?
And I imagine taking off the makeup is much easier…
Well yeah, but you’re talking it off with… It takes about twenty minutes to take them off… But you’re getting a little face peel there. A lot of ripping off appliances and God knows I… I didn’t even want to ask what we had to use to get that glue off, but it didn’t get rid of my freckles… So there you are.
But when that mask is on, and when the crew starts telling you that you look pretty that day, you know they’ve been on the show too long.
JACQUELINE SCOTT INTERVIEW BY JAMES M. TATE, AND TO LISTEN TO THE ENTIRE PODCAST WHERE JACQUELINE DISCUSSES OTHER CLASSICS SUCH AS "CHARLEY VARRICK" AND "EMPIRE OF THE ANTS," CLICK THIS LINK AND ENJOY THE SHOW