‘Monkey Kingdom’ Director Talks About His Pretty Heroine

Monkey Kingdom Premiere
Charley Gallay/Getty

As with any Hollywood movie, director Mark Linfield sought a pretty heroine for his “Monkey Kingdom,” set in the scenic jungle in Sri Lanka. At Sunday’s premiere at the Grove in Los Angeles, Linfield talked about the three-year process that brought the DisneyNature movie to the bigscreen, as well as his monkey heroine.

“I’d been to this location 18 or 19 years ago and learned a lot about the monkeys,” Linfield said. “And for me the interesting story was always about the social hierarchy and the fact that if you’re born at the top with the silver spoon in your mouth, everything comes easily to you, you get the first pick. But if you are born at the bottom, like Maya (the protag), life is really, really hard. And what’s interesting is the low-ranking monkeys are the innovators. I knew all about that before the film started. So I knew the story I wanted to tell was about a low-ranking female and her fight to beat the system.”

He added: “When we arrived at the location, we spent quite a lot of time looking for the right low-ranking female. We looked at 30 different groups … and we found Maya, and the great thing about Maya is she was pretty, she lived in a group that had an interesting territory, and was very cinematic, which was important. But after knowing broadly that we wanted to tell a social drama, we just followed Maya and let what happened happen.”

The premiere was a fundraiser for Conservation Intl. and featured booths with green screens, vegetarian food, organic gardening and an eco-friendly car as part of EMA’s sustainable Earth celebration.

While plenty of ABC stars were in attendance, Maya and her gang were nowhere to be seen nor was narrator Tina Fey.

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