In Planet of the Apes (1968), Nova is a beautiful (and ultimately tragic) primitive girl who is captured by the apes as her tribe is raiding their crops. American astronaut George Taylor is also captured. They are taken to Ape City where they are paired up in a cell. Taylor, having been shot through the throat by a gorilla, is unable to speak, but when his speech returns he befriends the chimpanzees Zira and Cornelius. They eventually help Taylor and Nova escape to the Forbidden Zone where Taylor learns the truth about the planet.
In the sequel Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970), Nova and Taylor journey through the Forbidden Zone where Taylor mysteriously disappears. Meanwhile a second astronaut, Brent, has arrived on the planet in search of Taylor. Brent is brought by Nova to Zira and Cornelius, but they are captured and held prisoner. Escaping, they head for the Forbidden Zone where they discover that beneath the surface of the planet is a forgotten city, peopled by mutants who worship a massive nuclear bomb. Under the mutant's mind control, Brent attempts to drown Nova. Later, as Brent and Taylor stand in a cell, she watches in horror as the two men, under the mutant's control, try to kill each other. Fearing for the lives of her friend and the man she loves, she speaks for the first time, crying out Taylor's name. The sound of her voice breaks the mutant's mind control and frees Brent and Taylor. As the two men break out, a gorilla shoots and kills Nova before he can be subdued. The film ends with Taylor detonating the bomb, destroying the planet.