|“||Dr. Zira, I must caution you. Experimental brain surgery on these creatures is one thing, and I'm all in favor of it. But your behavioral studies are something else again. To suggest that we can learn anything about the simian nature from a study of man is sheer nonsense. Why, man is a nuisance. He eats up his food supply in the forest, then migrates to our green veldts and ravages our crops. The sooner he is exterminated, the better. It's a question of simian survival.||„|
|~ Dr. Zaius to Dr. Zira.|
|“||Beware the beast man, for he is the Devil's pawn. Alone among God's primates, he kills for sport, for lust, for greed. Yes, he will murder his brother to possess his brother's land. Let him not breed in great numbers, for he will make a desert of his home and yours. Shun him, drive him back into his jungle lair, for he is the harbinger of death.||„|
|~ Cornelius reading Dr. Zaius's favorite passage from the sacred scrolls, the 29th scroll, sixth verse, of Ape Law.|
Dr. Zaius is the main antagonist of the 1968 film Planet of the Apes, the secondary antagonist of its 1970 sequel Beneath the Planet of the Apes, and one of the main antagonists of the franchise as a whole, across comics, TV shows and video games.
He is an intelligent, evolved orangutan who serves as one of the political leaders of the ape-dominated world, both in religion and science. Zaius serves a dual role in Ape society, as Minister of Science in charge of advancing ape knowledge, and also as the designated Chief Defender of the Faith ape religion. He believes all humans are an abomination and kept the truth about the origins of their society a secret.
- He was portrayed by the late Maurice Evans in the original Planet of the Apes film and its sequel Beneath the Planet of the Apes.
- He was portrayed by Edward G. Robinson in a short film used to pitch the story's concept. Robinson was also the original choice for Dr. Zaius before being replaced by Maurice Evans.
- He was portrayed by the late Booth Colman in the 1974 Planet of the Apes TV series.
- He was voiced by Richard Blackburn in the 1975 animated series Return to the Planet of the Apes.
- He was voiced by Hank Azaria in the The Simpsons episode "A Fish Called Selma".
- He was portrayed by the late Charlton Heston (who wanted to remain uncredited) in Tim Burton's 2001 remake of Planet of the Apes.
- He was voiced by Brian Peck in the UbiSoft Planet of the Apes video game.
- He has been portrayed by Dana Gould in multiple comedy skits and conventions in the last several years.
|“||Julius and Zira cross to a stout, imposing orangutan who has just entered the laboratory. Julius bows to him. This is DR. ZAIUS. Like the other apes, he wears a simple tunic and trousers, but his garments are of a Costlier material, and several decorations are woven into the sash of his tunic.||„|
|~ Dr. Zaius' description in the original movie's script.|
As an orangutan, Dr. Zaius is slightly larger than the chimpanzees in the series, and dons a light skin and pale orange/light brown colored hair, no different than other members of his species or wild orangutans who weren't much more different millennia ago.
He wears tunic-type clothing similar to the other apes, though his are closer to those worn by other orangutans with the addition of an orange vest covered by symbols also worn by the Lawgiver based on his statues. The final revised screenplay notes that his garments' materials are costlier than those worn by the other simians.
|“||You are a menace. A walking pestilence.||„|
|~ Dr. Zaius to Taylor regarding the human race.|
It's easy to see Dr. Zaius as little more than an evil authority figure, and in some regards he might be just that, but all of his actions are with the intent of benefitting his fellow apes, at the expense of mankind. Through the sacred scrolls, he and the other orangutans, who hold all the knowledge of the past world, are aware of man's past actions, which are responsible for much of the planet being a wasteland. Though his relationship with humans is still very xenophobic, he and others merely follow the words of the Lawgiver, an ancient ape turned deity by the society, who was presumably there to witness humanity's downfall 2000 years ago and described the humans as more than just animals and evil incarnate.
In the attempt to keep other apes from knowing the truth, Dr. Zaius and those before him have succeeded in creating a society that isn't as destructive as man, at least among themselves, following one of the Lawgiver's laws: "Ape will not kill ape". He tries to maintain the status quo by discouraging Dr. Zira of man's potential intelligence and research as well as rejecting Cornelius' findings, but after Dr. Zira and Cornelius are trialed for heresy, Dr. Zaius shows mercy by managing to free them, in spite of the knowledge they hold, in order to avoid conflict among the apes. He even goes as far as warning Taylor, an intelligent man and the thing he feared most, of discovering what happened to his people.
He had additionally offered to save Taylor from being dissected and experimented on by veterinaries if he revealed the location of his tribe filled with intelligent men, mutants as Dr. Zaius considered them, but this would've resulted in the possible death of the entire tribe, if not capture and imprisonment based on how he asked Taylor where his women specifically were.
|“||Dr. Zaius: Now the tribunal has placed you in my custody for final disposition. You realize what that means?
Dr. Zaius: Emasculation to begin with. Then experimental surgery on the speech centers - on the brain. Eventually a kind of living death. However... I have it in my power to grant a reprieve. That is why I summoned you here tonight. Tell me who and what you really are and where you came from, and no veterinary shall touch you.
|~ Dr. Zaius makes an "honorable" deal with Taylor, though it could result in the death of an entire tribe.|
Some see him as a representation of old science or religious dogma, since he holds both the political position of Minister of Science and that of the Defender of the Faith, as science and religion are intertwined in ape society. Subjugating the masses by limiting information was done quite often by science and religion in humanity's history, and it's believed Dr. Zaius is a reflection of that, and not just an ape indoctrinated by ignorance like many of the apes in the series. Dr. Zaius represents the best and worst aspects of authority and the dangerous balance of withholding valuable information within any society.
Planet of the Apes (1968)
In the original films, Dr. Zaius is a powerful politician and one of the three apes in charge of society. Dr. Zaius is fanatically devoted to his religion and its prophet, the Lawgiver. Ape society is a caste system that is divided into four classes. Orangutans are the politicians and priests, chimpanzees are the doctors and scientists, gorillas are the laborers and soldiers and the humans are slaves used only for experiments. Specifically, Dr. Zaius is the Chief Defender of the Faith and the Minister of Science and believes that science and religion can coexist. This angers the chimpanzee Dr. Zira, who knows that the sacred scrolls are incorrect and contradict new scientific discoveries. Zaius is aware of this and even covers up evidence that could prove him wrong, but he believes that society is fine the way it is, and any further discoveries could risk upsetting things and resulting in the apes suffering the same fate as the humans, or ultimately resulting in the humans becoming dominant once again.
Zaius was one of the few apes (if not the only ape) who knew the true origins of simian culture, as well as that of humans. While the Sacred Scrolls established the edict that apes evolved from man, Zaius knew that apes were once in fact subservient to man. Despite knowing that his religion was flawed at best or false at worst, Zaius still believed it and made sure to keep his knowledge of the past a secret. However, the potential arrival of an intelligent human frightened him deeply, with Zaius stating that he knew one would ultimately arrive, and dreaded it. This ultimately happened, with the arrival of a human astronaut named George Taylor. Taylor cannot speak due to a throat injury, but when he ultimately reveals his intelligence to Dr. Zira, Zaius is concerned. A hearing to determine Taylor's origins is convened. Taylor mentions his two comrades, learning that Dodge was taxidermied and Landon was lobotomized and rendered catatonic. Believing Taylor is from a human tribe beyond their borders, Zaius privately threatens to castrate and lobotomize Taylor for refusing to reveal his origins.
With help from Zira's nephew Lucius and her husband Cornelius, Zira frees Taylor and takes him to the Forbidden Zone, a taboo region outside Ape City where Taylor's ship crashed. While Cornelius and Zira are intent to gather proof of an earlier non-simian civilization so they can be cleared of heresy, Taylor is focused on proving he comes from a different planet. Arriving at the cave, Cornelius is intercepted by Zaius and his soldiers. Taylor holds them off by threatening to shoot Zaius, who agrees to enter the cave to disprove their theories. Inside, Cornelius displays remnants of a technologically advanced human society pre-dating simian history. Taylor identifies artifacts such as dentures, eyeglasses, a heart valve, and to the apes' astonishment, a child's talking doll. After Zaius is ambushed and held hostage by Taylor, Zaius agreed to let him go if he never returned to Ape City. Zaius claimed that the planet was a "paradise" until humanity "made a desert of it eons ago". Taylor explained that he was going to find the truth about the history of humans on the planet, and Zaius warned him that he may not like what he finds. This proves to be true, as Taylor finds the ruins of the statue of liberty and realizes that this foreign planet was Earth all along. Dr. Zaius then had Cornelius's archaeological findings destroyed, and ordered Cornelius to stand trial for heresy charges.
Beneath the Planet of the Apes
As ape society is on the verge of famine, the supreme commander of the ape military, a gorilla named General Ursus, resolves to invade the forbidden zone and exterminate the remaining humans so they can have more farmland. Zaius does not agree with the plan, as the Sacred Scrolls say the Forbidden Zone is dangerous. However, faced with starvation, Zaius relents and accompanies Ursus and his army into the Forbidden Zone. In the forbidden zone, they see illusions created by mutant humans to try and scare away the apes. However, Dr. Zaius's faith is so great, he is the only ape to go headfirst into the illusion, proving it to be blasphemous.
The apes invade the subterranean mutant city, making their way to the cathedral. Taylor is in the mutant civilization at this point, and sees that the bomb the mutants worship has the Greek letters Alpha and Omega on its casing. Taylor recognizes it as a "doomsday bomb" capable of destroying the entire planet. Many of the mutants are either captured, killed, or found to have committed suicide. Taylor attempts to stop Ursus from accidentally setting off the weapon, but Taylor is shot as his pleas to Zaius fall on deaf ears. The mortally wounded Taylor curses Zaius as he collapses bringing his hand down on the activation switch, triggering the bomb, which kills everyone and destroys planet Earth. Zaius's hatred towards the human race ultimately led to his demise and planet Earth's destruction.
In the Planet of the Apes TV series, Zaius was the highest-ranking member of the High Council of Central City in the year 3085. Obviously based on the character from the movies, he filled the same function as his namesake. In fact, he was quite possibly an ancestor of Dr. Zaius in the movies.
He served as a government official, with authority over all the humans in his district. He knew of the potential of humans and would stop at nothing to maintain the status quo. The young chimpanzee Galen became his new assistant, but became a fugitive with two human astronauts, fleeing from Zaius and his enforcer, General Urko, who wished to question the astronauts in order to prevent more following them.
Doctor Zaius reappeared yet again in the Planet of the Apes animated series, with no obvious connection to any other version of Zaius.
He served as an authoritative government official who held influence within the Ape Senate and had authority over both Cornelius and Zira, and their scientific enterprises, as well as General Urko and his military. He wanted Bill Hudson captured but also distrusted Urko's ambitions.
Planet of the Apes (2001)
|“||Damn them... damn them. Damn them all... to Hell!||„|
|~ Dr. Zaius' last words.|
In Tim Burton's 2001 remake of Planet of the Apes, Zaius was the aging father of ape military commander, General Thade. An important leader of Derkein, possibly a senator, he was also a direct descendant of Semos, founder of the ape society and regarded as god of the apes. Of all the apes in the community, he was the only one who knew the truth concerning the Forbidden Area known as Calima. Zaius despised humans and blamed them for the downfall of society. As a reminder of humanity’s destructive nature, he kept one of their weapons, a handgun. inside an ancestral urn held within his household. He knew the trouble that Leo's arrival could bring. On his deathbed, Zaius consulted with Thade and revealed some of the hidden truths in regard to humanity having once been dominant on the planet. And as further proof, he asked his son to break the ancient urn, revealing the human weapon he had kept all those years and claiming it as proof of humanity's potential to overtake the apes with their capacity to innovate. Condemning all human beings "to Hell", Zaius passes away, leaving the handgun to Thade.
Professor Zaius' story was told in the Planet of the Apes video game. His first appearance in the game can be viewed here. Upon escaping from his cell in the Ape laboratories, Ulysses crawled through the air ducts to where he saw Zaius talking to Doctor Zira. He was against the special treatment favored by Zira towards Ulysses, who she saw as a very unusual human. Reminding her of his authority, Zaius told her that Ulysses will be transferred to the mandrill militia. Ulysses encountered Zaius again when he entered the Ape High Council chamber, where Zaius was chairing the Council. On reading the evidence Ulysses had gathered about Ursus' secret plot, Zaius ordered the arrest of Ursus and, despite the protests of the other Council members, offered Ulysses the chance to go free if he never returned to the Ape City. Ulysses agreed and Zaius then explained that his apparent gratitude was in truth a calculated plan to portray Ulysses as a selfish coward rather than the heroic leader of the human resistance he had become. Just as Ulysses and Nova made their escape however, Mathias was already assembling a huge human army to attack Ape City.
With the 1968 Planet of the Apes movie being the biggest success of the twentieth century at the time (and the most popular science fiction product, even bigger than Star Trek, though it would be overshadowed by Star Wars in the following decade), earning it four successful sequels, multiple comics and a hit TV show (said to be the biggest television program at the time), as well as an animated series, a remake, and video games that followed, Dr. Zaius has had many incarnations, relatives and analogues throughout the franchise, becoming in many ways the series' primary antagonist as well as the face of the franchise, since he's bound to know the truth long before the human protagonists become aware of it.
Even to this day, long after the reboot series and other pieces of media added new characters and new antagonists, Dr. Zaius still comes back due to the original series' success and script and of course, Maurice Evans' performance.
Dr. Zaius has been referenced and parodied multiple times. He was featured in the seventh season episode of The Simpsons entitled "A Fish Called Selma" appearing in a musical stage production of Planet of the Apes, with Dr. Zaius' tribute song sung to the tune of "Rock Me Amadeus" in what's usually considered one of, if not the best musical number in The Simpsons (this spoof was featured in a 1998 documentary Behind the Planet of the Apes hosted by Roddy McDowall, Cornelius' actor in the original film, as an example of the Planet of the Apes franchise's popularity.). In Reality Bites, TV producer Michael Grates keeps a statuette of Dr. Zaius in his office, while Mad Magazine lampooned the Planet of the Apes franchise in Issue #157 (March 1973), renaming the character Dr. Zaius "Dr. Zaydius". In the Seinfeld episode "The Reverse Peephole", Dr. Zaius is referenced with Puddy wearing a large fur coat, entering Joe Mayo's apartment, and being introduced by Elaine with the words "I think you know Dr. Zaius.", the same dialogue used in the film when Dr. Zaius first appeared (Puddy later throws the coat out a window saying, "Goodbye, Dr. Zaius."). In the 1997 cult film Rocketman, there is a double reference as astronaut Fred Z. Randall affectionately refers to the chimpanzee Ulysses as "Little Doctor Zaius" (Ulysse being the name of the main protagonist of the original Planet of the Apes novel), and the engineering security network at Boston University is named Zaius after Dr. Zaius (The Zaius security system is referred to as the "defender of all things engineering", much like Zaius' title as "defender of the faith".).
Dr. Zaius in the first film alone is often considered one of the greatest villains from that decade (alongside Norman Bates, HAL 9000 and Ernst Stavro Blofeld) and one of the greatest science fiction villains of all time, though the fact that his motives aren't as malicious as those of many other villains made him more intriguing and interesting for viewers (partially thanks to his thought-provoking dialogue and the fact that he knew what Taylor would find in that iconic twist ending before the audience witnessed it) since he isn't portrayed as truly evil throughout the franchise. Nevertheless, he remains an antagonistic force with a lot of power and a staple of the series.
Planet of the Apes
Beneath the Planet of the Apes
|“||Dr. Zaius: I still think you made a hasty decision, General.
General Ursus: You have seen it, Doctor. A dozen of our scouts went out near the Forbidden Zone and were caught. Only one returned, and he went mad telling of strange visions and horrible noises in his head. There is something out there.
Dr. Zaius: Precisely. Which is why we let it be.
General Ursus: You know as well as I that the wild humans have raided our farms. That, combined with the crop downturns, will cause starvation. We must invade and take those lands. What could be worse than famine, Doctor?
Dr. Zaius: The unknown.
|~ Dr. Zaius and Ursus during a steam bath.|
|“||The spirit of the Lawgiver lives. We are still God's chosen. This is a vision! And it is a lie!||„|
|~ Zaius deduces the Mutants' illusion is just that, an illusion.|
Dr. Zaius: Taylor!
Taylor: It's doomsday. The end of the world. Help me!
Dr. Zaius: You ask me to help you?! Man is evil! Capable of nothing but destruction!
|~ Dr. Zaius' last words to Taylor, before the latter activates the Alpha-Omega Bomb and destroys the Earth.|
- Dr. Zaius is loosely based on Mi Zaïus from the original novel, though his role was expanded in the film, granting him more dialogue, presence and political power, as well as making him both more sympathetic and justified, plus (debatably) more malevolent.
- Maurice Evans got the role because Edward G. Robinson, who was originally supposed to play Dr. Zaius (and indeed he portrayed Zaius in the 1966 screen-test alongside Charlton Heston, Linda Harrison and James Brolin), renounced due to the make-up proceedings to play the ape being too hard for him. Other sources state that he declined the role due to a heart condition, since shooting was to be done at a high altitude in the film.
- Dr. Zaius is similar to (and might've influenced) later Planet of the Apes villains such as General Ursus, General Aldo and Koba, as they all share his hatred of humans. However, unlike these others, his hatred was not based on malice (at least not mostly), but rather a desire to protect ape society from going down a similar road, as well as fear towards the threat mankind once posed and could pose one day again.
- The character Maurice in the Planet of the Apes reboot series was named in honor of Doctor Zaius' actor, Maurice Evans (though Evans' name was pronounced as "Morris", not "Maw-reece"), and the two characters share the same species, both being orangutans. As characters, the two are polar opposites in many ways.
- Dr. Zaius inspired the villain Dr. Zarius from the Looney Tunes webtoons.
La Planète des Singes
Planet of the Apes (1968)
Escape from the Planet of the Apes