How James Franco Faked It with a Chimpanzee

James Franco, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Chimpanzee
James Franco (right) in Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Twentieth Century FOX/AP

08/05/2011 AT 07:15 AM EDT

Whether it's getting his doctorate or hosting the Oscars, James Franco is up to the task.

In his new movie, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, the multi-hyphenate, 33, might have pulled off his biggest stunt yet – playing make-believe with a virtual chimpanzee.

"I still don't understand how you guys did that," Jimmy Kimmel said during Franco's Tuesday appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live. "I know it's CGI and all that stuff, but it is amazing how those chimpanzees can talk and stuff."

"Yeah," Franco said. "Well, it wasn't real."

In fact, actor Andy Serkis, who played Gollum in Lord of the Rings, put on a gray CGI suit and made a monkey of himself for Franco.

"And you'd think, well, how can you act with somebody like that and pretend they're a chimpanzee, but his behavior is so realistic that you immediately see beyond it and your imagination takes over," said Franco. "It really is like acting with a chimpanzee except that he has the best acting instincts."

"And," Kimmel noted, "he doesn't throw crap at you."

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