ComingSoon Editor-in-Chief Tyler Treese spoke with Luther: The Fallen Sun star Andy Serkis. The actor spoke about his villainous character and his motion capture work. The movie is now streaming on Netflix.
“In Luther: The Fallen Sun — an epic continuation of the award-winning television saga reimagined for film — a gruesome serial killer is terrorizing London while brilliant but disgraced detective John Luther (Idris Elba) sits behind bars,” reads the film’s logline. “Haunted by his failure to capture the cyber psychopath who now taunts him, Luther decides to break out of prison to finish the job by any means necessary.”
Tyler Treese: Andy, there’s such an interesting theme of shame at play and how your character uses it to his advantage as death is less scary than shame to many. Can you speak to that element and what interested you about how your character uses blackmail in a unique manner to get what he wants?
Andy Serkis: It’s really accurate, what you just said. That’s what appealed to me about playing this role. Taking on a role like this, I was very reticent to do that, it being so dark. But actually, the debate around shame was one of the things that I wanted to try and understand and how people get themselves into the position where, like you say, they’re prepared to do harm to themselves or even take their own lives because they do feel that. David Roby, the character itself, is almost just a tiny part of the monster in this movie. The monster is the world of the internet and the abused version of the internet where people … David Roby watches and observes and, as a voyeur, sucks people’s lives out because he doesn’t have one himself.
That combined with a sort of desire to bring down someone who he thinks is hypocritical –such as Luther, who is in a position of power but can use power however he likes. Whereas this man, David Roby, has no power unless he makes it for himself. That is really the territory we’re in. Going back to your question about shame, we are all aware that that it’s so powerful that young people can feel so manipulated — not just young people, people of all ages — but particularly young minds can feel so judged, shamed, manipulated by the very technology that is supposed to bring us together and democratize and make society function in a better way. It sort of has backfired hugely and that is the territory, I think, that really interested me about this: the world that we have almost turned on its head, and it’s become something other than what it was set out to do.
You’ve played some amazing villains in the past, but many were motion capture roles. Doing this movie, does it feel more personal in this way or do you get the same type of satisfaction either way?
Oh no, not at all. A role is a role, and the satisfaction comes from inhabiting [and] walking in that personal character or creature’s shoes — or not shoes, or even feet [laugh]. But there isn’t any difference for me between acting using performance capture or a suit or wearing a costume and makeup. I don’t get more pleasure from playing either. It’s all about the actual role and diving in there and telling a story and connecting with audiences through those characters. But it’s very interesting how people do perceive it now. I mean, a number of people have said to me, “Oh, it’s nice to see your face on screen,” as if it’s something different to the job of acting in motion capture, but it’s not.
That’s great to hear. Luther adds to the great list of franchises that you’ve been able to add to the legacy of. What does it mean for you to keep getting these important roles from everything? The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, etc.
I count myself incredibly lucky that I’ve been asked to be part of these different genres and stories and franchises. Because — this is a prime example — I was a huge fan of this TV series. When I knew it was becoming a movie, I was very, very excited. Very excited for Idris [Elba], who I’ve wanted to work with for years. He’s such an explosive and very grounded actor who really owns this role. Being on set with him … shooting this was amazing. But to have the Luther world grow into a big movie … it really suits it. Because you have this almost Gotham City-like Luther version of London. Then you’ve got all the big set pieces, but you’ve also got the grit and the emotional truth and the power that the TV series had as well. So I think it’s … I felt like, for me, it was a really great entry point.