In The Making Of Star Wars: A New Hope, The Making Of Stars Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, and The Making Of Stars Wars: Return Of The Jedi, writer J.W. Rinzler went deep into the stories behind the original Star Wars movies, and emerged with books that were as entertaining as they were informative. In the following email interview, he talks about his newest movie making tome, The Making Of Planet Of The Apes (hardcover, Kindle), about the making of the titular sci-fi movie.
To start, your previous books about the Star Wars movies were all oral histories with a ton of pictures. Why did you decide to take a different approach to The Making Of Planet Of The Apes?
This one is also as much an oral history as I could make it. It’s a little shorter, but it’s told mostly in the words of those who made the film.
Unlike with Star Wars, a lot of the people who made or starred in Planet Of The Apes are no longer around. Did you have a chance to talk to those who are?
Luckily Kevin Burns, who made the doc Behind The Planet Of The Apes, gave me the transcripts from his last interviews with many of the cast and crew. I also used a lot of older articles and books from the time and since.
So does The Making Of Planet Of The Apes just cover the first movie, or the whole series?
It covers the whole saga of making the 1968 film. That was plenty for a single book; it’s a great story.
Does it also go into Pierre Boule’s original novel, La Planete Des Singes, or does it start with the decision to make the movie?
It starts with the novel.
Recently there was a graphic novel, Planet Of The Apes: Visionaries, which was an adaptation of Rod Sterling’s original scrips for Planet Of The Apes. Is it safe to assume, given the proximity, that you didn’t read that comic while working on The Making Of Planet Of The Apes?
I didn’t see the comic, no; though of course I read Serling’s scripts.
Was there anything you learned while writing The Making Of Planet Of The Apes that really surprised you?
I was amazed by producer Arthur Jacobs’ tenacity; he fought for years to get the film made. I was also impressed with [director Franklin J.] Schaffner and [actor Charlton] Heston and learned they were good friends, which helped the shoot quite a bit.
So is the plan to next do The Making Of Beneath The Planet Of The Apes and then The Making Of Escape From The Planet Of The Apes, and so on?
This is the only book planned on the franchise that I know of.
Speaking of sequels, as I mentioned, you previously wrote similar books about the original Star Warsmovies. Given that there was thirty years between the releases of A New Hope and The Making Of Star Wars: A New Hope, and so on, does that mean we have to wait until 2029 for you to write The Making Of Stars Wars: The Phantom Menace?
I already wrote a book about Ep III, The Making Of Star Wars: Revenge Of The Sith, but I doubt I’ll ever write one on Ep I.
Dang. Finally, if someone enjoys The Making Of Planet Of The Apes, which of your other movie-related books would you suggest they read next and why?
I’d suggest The Complete Making Of Indiana Jones and the Star Wars saga books.