“Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” which opens today in theaters, is winning largely positive reviews. And one of the main reasons is Andy Serkis, who delivers another of his signature, convincing motion-capture performances in the role of lead chimpanzee Caesar.
Of course, this isn’t the first time Serkis has won acclaim for providing the human foundation for a computer-generated character. The London native — who has spent more than two decades working in theater, TV and film, in traditional roles as well as those that require the donning of motion-capture suits — became a pioneer in that realm when he brought Gollum to life in the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. (He also later portrayed Kong in Peter Jackson’s “King Kong.”)
Serkis, 47, recently chatted with me at Comic-Con about how it felt to become Gollum again when he recently shot his scenes for Peter Jackson’s upcoming two-part adaptation of “The Hobbit.” More on that after the jump. And for more on how Serkis turned simian in “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” read this Style piece on Serkis and his work in the film.
Gollum doesn’t play as much of a role in “The Hobbit” story as he does in the “Rings” trilogy. Consequently, Serkis said he’s already finished his performance work on the films.
“There have been so many sorts of impersonations of Gollum, it was sort of known by the public and pop culture for so long now, it was almost like I was doing an impersonation of this character I once played,” he said when I asked how it felt to revisit that “precious” territory. “It was really bizarre.”
“I found myself going through the familiar motions and the voice and all of that,” he added, “and it was like I couldn’t quite take myself seriously, you know what I mean? When it becomes owned by everybody else — I had to really, really dig to get back into who is this person and what’s it all about.”
Even though Gollum is behind him, Serkis still has lots of “Hobbit” territory to cover. He’ll return to the set in New Zealand on Sept. 2 to continue his work as one of Peter Jackson’s second-unit directors on the pair of Tolkien-adapted epics.
“He’s known that I’ve wanted to direct for a long time,” Serkis said. “He’s very nurturing in that way. He said — he’s quite responsible — the second-unit on a project of this scale is pretty huge. So I’m shooting drama and big battle sequences and vista shots and all sorts of stuff.”