Andy Serkis on Fantasy-Adventure Inkheart


Andy Serkis is a man with millions of fans that adore his portrayal of Gollum in Peter Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. This, to me, is unfortunate, for Andy Serkis, the actor, is something more. Seeing Serkis solely as a stand in for a special effect, one cannot appreciate his work in Christopher Nolan’s The Prestige, the English theater or to be seen later this year, his portrayal of Albert Einstein (“Einstein and Eddington” is set to air in the United States sometime in 2009.) Looking back, Serkis never got his just due and merit by the different award ceremonies. This is why I relish the opportunity to see Serkis on screen, in the flesh, without millions of dollars of special effects added to hide the man. While in New York to attend the American premiere, Serkis sat down with to talk about his next movie, the fantasy adventure Inkheart.

Inkheart is based on the best-selling children’s novel by German author Cornelia Funke. The story follows Mortimer “Mo” Folchart (Brendan Fraser) who has the power to take characters out of books just by speaking the words out loud. Mo and his daughter Meggie travel from place to place looking for a copy of the medieval adventure “Inkheart.” While on their journey, Mo and Meggie come across a mysterious flamethrower named Dustfinger (Paul Bettany), who is also seeking the book. Dustfinger hopes to convince Mo to read out loud so that he may return to his wife who is still within the “Inkheart” pages.

Andy Serkis plays the villainous Capricorn who has also been “read out” of the book by Mo. However, unlike Dustfinger, Capricorn relishes his new world and the power he has over it. Serkis told us, “In the ‘Inkheart’ pages, Capricorn is a nobody. But once he arrives in this world, he has this strong direction because he suddenly finds an appetite for power, dressing well, and duct tape.” (laughs) Serkis continued, “For me the actor, I kept going back t o dictators who really come from nothing and then have this fixation on power. I wanted to play him, where he is quite charming in public really.”

“What I wanted to do with Capricorn was to make him this paranoid dictator and a child who is afraid of the power he’s got,” Serkis added. “That was really the combination I was working on. There is a fascist undertone to the book. The rise of fascism is sort of like the rise of Capricorn’s rise to power.”

Joining Serkis in this movie is the indomitable Queen herself, Helen Mirren. Mirren plays Elinor, intense book lover and great aunt to Meggie. Serkis said of working with Mirren, “It really, really was a great company. We shot together for five months in Northern Italy, which is Liguria, which is the most beautiful place! It was where Cornelia Funke wrote the book, in that environment, and it is actually set it. So to go and shoot there, with her (Mirren) was a real pleasure. I think it really comes across in this film. It sort of has a very European feel to it but at the same time, this dark edge.”

One of the topics brought up with Serkis was the performance by Brad Pitt in David Fincher’s critically-acclaimed The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. A Brad Pitt best actor nomination seems to have fallen into territory that Serkis faced with “Lord of the Rings,” creating a motion captured character so perfect that it is not considered a special effect but a living character. Serkis states, “The fact of the matter is we are all actors. And we have to act whether it is in front of green screen or with blue dots all over our faces, with wonderful costumes, live on a set. That’s part of the craft.”

Serkis continued, “For me, people will always say ‘film acting is all about doing nothing. Its all about theater acting.’ For me, I don’t really draw any distinction between either. If you are believing you are in character, if you are believing what you are doing in any environment, then it will carry you through. If you have done the research so that you know the rest of the iceberg that is underneath the character, if you have all that, then you can take the character physically wherever you need to. It is all about energy and I suppose I have a particular energy that fits.”

Inkheart opens up in theaters on Friday, January 23rd. Don’t miss our video interviews with Brendan Fraser, Paul Bettany and director Iain Softley here! You can also read our set visit here and watch trailers and clips here.