Andy Serkis will play Caesar, the main chimpanzee in 20th Century Fox's "Rise of the Apes," the actor's manager at Principal Entertainment has confirmed to TheWrap.
James Franco, Freida Pinto and John Lithgow star in the "Planet of the Apes" prequel that Rupert Wyatt is directing from a script by Amanda Silver and Rick Jaffa.
The writers will also produce with Chernin Entertainment's Peter Chernin and Dylan Clark.
Set in present day San Francisco, the origin story finds Caesar leading the uprising among the apes after having been raised by Lithgow and Franco's father-and-son scientist characters.
Serkis is best known for playing Gollum in Peter Jackson's "Lord of the Rings" trilogy. "Apes" reunites Serkis with Jackson's VFX house WETA digital, which is rendering photo-realistic apes for the first time in the franchise, as opposed to using costumed actors.
Serkis also embodied the title character in Jackson's "King Kong," and he'll soon lend his unique talents to Steven Spielberg's upcoming "The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn."
The English actor has been earning raves for his performance as punk rocker Ian Dury in "Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll." Serkis next stars opposite Simon Pegg in John Landis' upcoming black comedy "Burke and Hare," and he's also set to appear in Kenneth Bowser's big-screen adaptation of Peter Biskind's book "Down and Dirty Pictures."
"Rise of the Apes" is scheduled to take over theaters on June 24, 2011.