Andy Serkis opens up about returning to Gollum
The LA Times got quite a few statements from the performance-capture star, Anthony Serkis, about returning to the role of gollum and working with Peter Jackson again.
Gollum’s never really gone too far away from me because he’s indelibly kind of printed into my DNA now, I think. I’ll tell you what was weird is going back and playing a character that has been so sort of absorbed into public consciousness that you almost don’t feel like you own it anymore. And to sort of gather it back — I mean, I did feel, I think, probably in the first couple of days going back into it that I was sort of doing a weird impersonation of him rather than being him because there have been so many spoofs and people’s impersonations and so on, and some people’s impersonations are really great. And I’m kind of thinking, “Oh gosh, that’s how to do it, yeah.” And you know, then you get back into it. … Meaningfully getting back into it was really exciting.
I think my vocal chords are so thrashed that I don’t really feel anything anymore there. During “Lord of the Rings,” I used to have to drink tons of what we call Gollum juice, which was lemon and honey and ginger. And actually when I went back to do “The Hobbit” this time, to reprise the role, I did , probably kind of more romantically and sort of nostalgically, get people to whip up a few bowls of Gollum juice which I used to drink. But it doesn’t really hurt, to be honest, anymore.
Peter’s just been the most phenomenal mentor, supporter, friend, collaborator. I cherish working with him so much, and this incredible journey that he’s sort of set me off on, really. Because I’m working on “The Hobbit” not only as Gollum, but I’m directing the second unit. I actually went down there for two weeks to reprise the role of Gollum, and I basically stayed for a year to direct the second unit. So that’s thrilling. I’m really, really enjoying that and getting a chance to work with him from another angle. I’m being his kind of eyes and years for the second unit, really. We’ve just been on location for two months shooting the most beautiful places in New Zealand. That’s been extraordinary. I love working with Pete, and everything that he’s created at WETA. The whole team, the whole outfit in New Zealand in Wellington, is a very, very special, wonderful place that I keep willingly returning to.
Actors often ask that question, “Are we going to be replaced by digital characters?” I think this is all part of the bigger debate about the notion of what performance capture really is all about. For me, I’ve never drawn a distinction between live-action acting and performance-capture acting. It is purely a technology. It’s a bunch of cameras that can record the actor’s performance in a different way. In terms of animation, animators are actors as well. They are fantastic actors. They have to draw from how they feel emotionally about the beat of a scene that they’re working on. They work collaboratively. They all have to understand the psyche of the role that they’re developing. And that will never change. It’s an art form. It’s like saying, “Well, now that photography has arrived, nobody can paint anymore.” Or, “Now that we’re shooting on digital, nobody can use film anymore.” No one’s saying anything is to the exclusivity of anything else. … Without taking away any of the visual effects work that animators and visual effects artists and programmers and technicians in the visual effects world, in my mind, it is a form of digital makeup. … But look, Pixar’s not going to go away. All of those great animation studios, they’re doing fantastic, beautiful work with scripts that are just brought to life in a different way. … [Performance capture is] such a liberating tool. I am quite evangelical about it to other actors because I think it’s such a wonderful — it’s a magic suit you put on that allows you to play anything regardless of your size, your sex, your color, whatever you are. As long as you have the acting chops and the desire to get inside a character, you can play anything. so I long for it to be accepted by the acting profession so that it can proliferate.
As the pioneer in performance-capture acting, Serkis certainly shows that he loves the craft. Stay tuned!