October 20, 2000 at 04:00 AM EDT

It’s official: Michael Clarke Duncan has gone ape. The mammoth Green Mile star has been cast as a silverback gorilla in Tim Burton’s remake of Planet of the Apes and is now undergoing rigorous simian schooling. ”It’s tripped out,” says Duncan. ”You have to learn to roll your shoulders forward, hunch your back, and round out your arms the way apes do. I’m also learning how to pick things up with a curved arm.” The on-set tutors — one of whom worked on Mighty Joe Young and Gorillas in the Mist — apparently have found a brilliant pupil in Duncan’s costar, Tim Roth (Pulp Fiction). Says Duncan, ”Tim’s excellent, because he’s a chimpanzee and shorter to the ground; he kind of looks the part already.”

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