Earlier this year the unexpectedly brilliant Planet of the Apes prequel trilogy concluded the story of Andy Serkis's intelligent ape turned revolutionary leader Caesar. Ahead of the film's home release in the US, Andy Serkis has been discussing the "role of a lifetime".

In a lengthy interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Serkis discussed the role, his understanding of the character and how he's been "going through a process grieving" since playing Caesar for the third and final time.

Serkis, who played the ape via a pioneering motion-capture performance, discussed his many inspirations for the role, including South African president and anti-apartheid revolutionary Nelson Mandela.

"At different stages of his journey, and in different movies, I was looking for different sources of inspiration," he said.

For 2013's Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Serkis looked to a real life chimp called Oliver, who was known as "the humanzee" because of his upright, bipedal stature and human-like tendencies.

In the film, Caesar is an ape granted increased intelligence and later the ability to speak through experimentation for a cure for Alzheimer's. After he helps other apes become smarter and escape their confines, he leads them to a forest to start their own colony.

The release of the compound that gives the apes their intelligence also leads to a virus that causes society to crumble and most of humanity to be wiped out.

"In the second film I wanted to find, as Caesar was becoming this leader of a new society, I wanted to think 'Who is an example of a really intelligent, powerful but egalitarian leader and so Nelson Mandela was very much an inspiration."

War for the Planet of the Apes
Andy Serkis

When it comes to the third and final film, in which Caesar embarks on a mission of revenge against one of humanity's last remaining communities (led by a psychopathic colonel), Serkis considered how he'd react to the situations his character found himself in.

He does admit however that there's a bit of Clint Eastwood in the performance as well - the film certainly has a Western feel - as well the leads of classic biblical epics starring Charlton Heston and Kirk Douglas.

Warning: Spoilers for the ending of War for the Planet of the Apes...

At the start of the interview Serkis heaped praise on the role, which many believe should be rewarded during the upcoming awards season, saying: "It's incredibly rare for an actor to get to play a character from birth to death over the course of three movies.

"Not only that but a character is a truly evolving character — going from a pure chimpanzee all the way through to a revolutionary leader. I'm actually going through a process of grieving it. It was a really great time."

While the big screen series is over for the time being, Serkis will still be involved in expanding the stories in other mediums. In August his motion capture studio The Imaginarium announced a spin-off, narrative led game set in the same universe.