Andy Serkis has been a beloved actor for quite some time yet he has never received the attention he deserves. Serkis is a hard working, well-rounded actor that has been in the spotlight a few times but has never truly received the praise he is due. As he continues to shock the world with his motion capture performances we here at Next Best Picture decided to take a glimpse into Serkis’ approach via our most recent podcast and now here, as he mixes classic character acting with the new technology, which contrary to popular belief does not hinder the performance in any way.
Serkis began his career acting in television shows before actually receiving his big break into film. His first feature film appearance was in “Royal Deceit” in 1994. He did several smaller rolls and even some leads in a lot of features that were not incredibly well known so he stayed relatively under the radar during the first part of his career. It was not until director Peter Jackson offered him a roll in his planned fantasy trilogy based that his career path would change forever.
In 2001, Serkis starred in the first installment of “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy as the creature Gollum and this is where he first began mixing the old school with the new school. He would go on to star in the rest of “The Lord of the Rings” films along with Peter Jackson’s recreation of “King Kong” starring as Kong himself. Most recently he has starred as the ape Caesar in the new wave of “Planet of the Apes” movies. Throughout his career, he has continued to perfectly immerse himself into the psyche of the character proving to be one of the most prolific actors ever.
If there is any strength Serkis possesses, it’s that he can seamlessly transform himself into that character. Now for us, this may seem so simple cause we are seeing him post motion capture but for him, he has to be stuck in the ridiculous mo-cap suit throughout the entirety of the shoot. Serkis merges his mind with that of the characters and quite literally becomes the creature, animal, or person he is portraying on screen. He truly channels and masters this old school style of method acting. It’s a method that is becoming less and less prevalent in the modern day, yet Serkis is bringing it back and bringing it back with style.
For some reason, there seems to be this stigma that goes along with these motion capture performances, not just Serkis’ but any motion capture performance in general. People argue that the performance is actually lesser or doesn’t require as much ability than regular acting. The argument could actually made for the opposite end of the spectrum: that the work Serkis is doing actually requires much more talent and much more ability than regular acting versus getting to just be in costume and makeup. He has to constantly be in this suit in order to capture the vision of the director that simultaneously suits the story.
Serkis is not just prancing around like a monkey (Well I guess he is), but he has to submerge himself into that mindset and accurately fit the vision of the director while also not making the performance seem cheesy. And boy does Serkis go far from cheesy. His performances are so nuanced and catered that they MUST be taken seriously. Despite feeling like the work he’s doing is ridiculous, he forces you to believe in his methods and forces you to understand his process and respect it. Serkis demands respect and that’s exactly what he gets from critics and audiences. It’s time that the Academy takes note as his performance as Ceasar in Matt Reeves’ latest film “War For The Planet Of The Apes,” might just be Serkis’ best.
Andy Serkis is an extremely underrated character actor who deserves much more attention than he receives, whether that be from critics or the Academy. Right now, we are hopeful that Serkis will one day get the Oscar nomination he so well deserves but for now we are just waiting for the day his name is announced for the Honorary Oscar. He has truly changed the game for acting much like Marlon Brando did decades ago and he deserves to be recognized for it.
Andy Serkis stars in “War For The Planet Of The Apes” which releases this weekend that also stars Woody Harrelson and is written and directed by Matt Reeves. You can read Matt’s review here.
You can follow Josh and hear more of his thoughts on the Oscars and Film on Twitter at @josh_williams09