Monday, December 03, 2012

Andy Serkis Return to Middle-Earth

Andy Serkis, the literal voice and body of the digital character Gollum, talks with AFI about his return to Middle-Earth and his most famous role for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. However, his work didn't end there as Peter Jackson decided the actor would make a perfect second unit director. Below are segments where the actor discusses his two "roles" he has for the trilogy. The full article can be found here.
“Working in a performance-capture suit is no different than acting under heavy costuming and make-up,” said Serkis in an exclusive interview with American Film™. “The actor authors the role, same as any live-action performance. You just have to be willing to appear on screen not as yourself. It seems obvious for an actor, but not everyone is willing to do that. I thirsted for it; it allows me to lose myself in the role. It’s the essence of acting, an amplified truth about the human condition. At the end of the day, finding the character is the same, and you as an actor take full responsibility for it.”

“This kind of performance lends itself to actors with more theatrical experience, who are generally able to better command their physicality than one who’s just been trained for the screen,” he said. “Where humans carry their anxiety and pain – that’s fascinating to me. It’s in the body.”

“Though Gollum was ultimately computer-generated, Peter wanted an actor for the role,” Serkis explained. “It’s such an important part of the story; he couldn’t expect [the other actors] to act against a tennis ball on a stick. At the time, motion capture hadn’t really been used in this way in the film industry. The way we worked, I was shot with the other actors on location. We played the relationships exactly as you’d play the relationships. You are with the other actors, and you are the character, as much as they are theirs. We’d shoot a complete pass with me, then Peter would reshoot a blank pass. Then we’d go back and reshoot my parts on the motion capture stage. Having lived through the scenes – even though it was sometimes a year later – you still have the emotional and muscle memory. It’s encoded, so it wasn’t a challenge to revisit, and Peter could then have the animators match the physicality and the facial expressions to mine.”

“Suddenly, it’s a central part of production. It’s just another way of capturing performance, and it’s so much more evolved. Everything is captured in the moment, on set. It’s not only physical, but facial and voice, all right there. [In THE HOBBIT], Riddles in the Dark – which is the scene – is the first scene we shot,” he said, referring to the classic first encounter between cave-dwelling Gollum and the titular Hobbit. “Peter wanted it to play out like a piece of theater, and we were able to run the whole scene through again and again.”

“I’ve wanted to direct since THE LORD OF THE RINGS, and then Peter asked me to take on the second unit – literally as we were beginning production,” said Serkis. “It’s a big responsibility. Fantastic – like driving a Maserati when you don’t even have your driver’s license yet. Second unit plays such a huge role in these films, and I’m there to be his eyes and ears. He wanted me there to support the actors.”

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