Andy Serkis‘ last two roles have not necessarily garnered him much notoriety even though they are two of the most memorable roles of the last ten years as he played Gollum in the Lord of the Rings trilogy and King Kong in Peter Jackson’s vision of the great ape. However, there is more to Andy than just taking on the role of CGI performance capture characters, even though he admittedly loves being the guy behind the CG.
Growing up the Royal Court Theatre in London Andy has had to deal with taking on multiple characters all at once, which has certainly benefit his movie career as he has played Gollum, to Richard Kneeland in 13 Going on 30, to King Kong and now to Roger Alley in The Prestige, a role that places him in the presence of the mysterious Nikola Tesla played by David Bowie.
While Serkis’ stock has risen as of late he first began working back in 1989 on British television and then he credits a 1994 TV drama as one of his jumping off points. “My first big TV break was a TV series called “Finney” which was kind of a Northern English gangster film that was a big TV break,” he said. “In theater I had a lot of big breaks, in the Royal Court Theatre in London I did a play called “Hush” and that was sort of my major theater break and then in film I would say on the worldwide stage Lord of the Rings would be the first big break.”
Despite his fantastic performance as Gollum the Academy deemed the role not eligible of an Oscar nomination since the on-screen character was 100-percent digital, but this doesn’t have Serkis downtrodden. “I am really, really devoted to developing a digital performance side of things because it has occupied a lot of my life recently. I’ve been working all year on a Sony PlayStation 3 game called ‘Heavenly Sword’ and I have been directing all the motion capture and worked on the story design and I directed and am performing in that. It’s a real kind of narrative, character driven game with great performances. So I feel quite on a bound really to continue developing.”
However, this isn’t going to stop him from traditional acting and while his role as Alley in The Prestige is not the most notable it is a necessary one. Prior to production beginning in February of this year Andy began his preparation for the role, “I made decisions who Roger Alley was. I decided prior to working with Tesla he probably worked with Edison and obviously there is a huge divide there between those two men, and what drew him to Tesla was sort of the artistry and the magic in what he was doing and the fact that he was such an ‘out there’ inventor. I decided he was the man that left a big company to go and work with an indie major. You’re never quite sure who he is as a character. He’s sort of a con-man/facilitator/gatekeeper and you never quite know where he stands.”
While the Alley character interested Serkis it was the script and the chance to work with the visionary director Christopher Nolan that peeked his interest. “Most of all I loved the script, I thought it was a fantastic piece of writing, very fresh. I’ve been reading a lot of scripts and it just absolutely stood out. It was a real page turner and I totally got into the world of it.” He continued, “Then of course I have always loved Chris Nolan’s work. He is like a razor, he knows exactly what he wants. He moves very quickly, he is very precise and there is very little chat or talk. It’s a great atmosphere on set, you move at the speed of light, and I really enjoyed that.”
Following The Prestige, which releases October 20, Serkis will be heard voicing a sewer rat in DreamWorks Animation’s Flushed Away. “Bill Nighy and I are playing Ian McKellen’s hench rats, he is a toad and he lives in the sewer and we are his hench rats. [Bill’s] taking this sort of huge character, this philosophical, slow moving, lumbering character called Whitey and I am playing this gnarly little impatient, thinks he is bigger than his own boots, little shit called Spike. He is actually a bit of a coward but he tries to play the big guy.”
Flushed Away hits theaters on November 3, but to get a look at Andy in The Prestige you can check him out in one of the five new clips we just added to the RopeofSilicon Media Player, “Circle of Trust.” You can check it out here and get the rest right here.