Memphis actor stars as giant gorilla in 'Rampage'

(Source: Rampage the movie)
(Source: Rampage the movie)

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - A Memphis native is coming to the big screen this month.

Rampage stars Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, but his larger-than-life compadre is George, an enormous, intelligent gorilla.

George is portrayed by motion capture actor Jason Liles--who is a Memphis native. Johnson spoke to Jimmy Kimmel about using an actor as opposed to CGI, which many major films use to portray movie monsters.

Liles, 30, was born in Memphis and went to school at Germantown High School and Harding Academy.

Liles is 6-foot-9 and has found his niche as a motion capture actor, a la Andy Serkis. He's played roles in Men in Black 3, video game LA Noire, and The Conjuring 2 before landing the role of George in Rampage.

"I'm wearing these gray PJs which are basically like the reverse of Velcro," Liles said. "They can Velcro these dots to me, and I have the dots on my face. I have the helmet cam and then I have the arm extensions. I am on set every day when you see George, I am there. Even when you see him King Kong zone I am there on a scissor lift at George's eye level looking down on Dwayne so he can look up at me and we can act together."

Liles said his frame is perfect for his career in Hollywood, but the challenge this time around was having to portray thoughts and emotions without speaking.

"Coco the gorilla was a huge source of inspiration, and I saw that, man, they are all in there--they just can't talk," Liles said. "Emotionally they are afraid they love things they're like, I'm 7 out of 10 tired today. They're so smart."

Liles lives in California but said he loves Memphis and tries to come back home every year. While shooting on set, he and The Rock had a conversation about living in the Bluff City.

"Memphis, that's where I started," he said. "I was like, 'what are you talking about you started in Memphis?' and that's where he started his wrestling career and he was doing for 50 or 100 bucks a show. I think he gets paid a little more now."

Rampage comes to theaters April 13.

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