The role was originally made famous by Roddy McDowall who appeared in the increasingly bad franchise movies of the series as well as the television series. I remember him best as the voice of Snowball in Pinky and the Brain and as the villain Bookworm in the Batman 60's television show.
Is this movie really necessary? The Tim Burton remake of the concept bombed like Hiroshima. One can only hope that the filmmakers behind this new version learned the lesson of the last one. Casting Andy Serkis in this role is certainly a step in the right direction.