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Apes Production Information Guide: Kim Hunter Interview
Kim Hunter, whose thespian career on Broadway and the screen over a period of more than a decade has brought her many awards including the coveted Oscar, has always believed in researching a role.
Hence she recently spent considerable time at the Los Angeles Zoo preparing for "Planet of the Apes."
Learning how to kiss.
Miss Hunter concedes that this requires some explanation.
"You see, I'm a chimpanzee and I'm engaged to this other chimpanzee."
There is a brief pause in the interview, during which the trim Miss Kim remains silent, eyes cast downward.
You get the idea that there is more to this monkey business than meets the eye.
The other chimp, by the way, is played by Roddy McDowall. And the way he kisses her, you can see the guy has plenty of lip.
"But it's all quite reasonable and rational when you know the story," says Miss Hunter, who won the Academy Award for her role as Stella in "A Streetcar Named Desire," a role which seems tame by comparison with her newest characterization. All that shirt-tearing stuff by Marlon Brando was animalistic -- but hardly simian.
"We play two chimpanzee scientists in a civilization entirely run by apes. They're intelligent, thinking, people... I mean apes. And, just like humans, they fall in love. And they kiss."
Kim didn't want to do it the wrong way on the screen -- after all, any apes in the audience might take offense -- so she studied them at the zoo.
"They kiss somewhat like we do, but not exactly," she reports. "With apes, it's more a biting of the lips, and a caressing, rather than the solid contact humans prefer to make. Anyhow, it's really very dear."
In the 20th Century-Fox film both Miss Hunter and Mr. McDowall wear cumbersome, albeit remarkably realistic and expressive, makeup. But their real faces are buried deep inside the outer simian makeup shell, so that when they kiss on-screen it is their sponge rubber lips -- the chimpanzee lips -- that meet, not their human lips.
"It's all very antiseptic and mechanical, and we had to work hard to get a romantic effect," admits Miss Hunter.
"We had no actual physical contact with each other, you see."
She paused briefly, then smiled.
"You might say," she added, "that it was something like modern dancing."