'We were no ordinary monkeys, we were the missing link': Cast members on playing apes in 2001: A Space Odyssey
Originally published on December 21, 2019
The opening to Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey is one of the most iconic in film history. For more than 10 minutes, there's no dialogue at all. A group of ape-like early humans go about their day until one of them, Moonwatcher, makes a huge discovery. He picks up a bone and realises it can be used as a weapon.
The whole sequence culminates in an unforgettable moment where Moonwatcher throws the bone into the air, it spins, suspended in the sky, and suddenly, it's not a bone anymore: it's a spaceship and millions of years have passed.
More than a dozen young dancers played these man-apes, with Moonwatcher being played by mime artist Dan Richter, who also trained and choreographed them all.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Richter and one of his ape underlings, dancer and actor David Charkham, joined us to share what it was like to act out one of the most celebrated moments in the entire history of cinema.
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— Produced by Ben Edwards
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