Marvel fans were delivered a bit of cool news back in May when The Avengers: Age of Ultron star Mark Ruffalo revealed that Lord of the Rings star Andy Serkis had been working with him and the blockbuster production consulting about performance capture acting techniques. We were led to believe that Serkis was merely playing a coaching role, given his vast and incredible experience in the field, but it turns out that was only part of his job description on the comic book movie. Andy Serkis will be featured in The Avengers: Age of Ultron. The question that remains is how.
This news comes from an interview Variety did with Serkis, the actor currently doing press rounds for the upcoming Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Asked about his involvement in both The Avengers: Age of Ultron and Star Wars: Episode VII, Serkis apparently confirmed that he will have an on-screen role in Joss Whedon's next Marvel Studios movie. Admittedly, the quotes run by the trade do involve a set of unfortunately placed brackets:
The Imaginarium is the performance capture consultant, and I’m playing a role (in both films). On The Avengers, I’ve been working closely with Mark Ruffalo.
The trade followed this answer up with an attempt at a scoop, trying to get Serkis to say whether or not he will be playing a live-action or performance capture part in Avengers 2. While the England-born star had somewhat loose lips about his consulting work, they shut down when talking about his role:
"I’m not at liberty to mention. But it’s all the same to me. I’ve never drawn a distinction when playing a role, whether it be live action or performance capture. Acting is acting. It’s just basically what you wear to the set that’s different."
This will likely open the speculation floodgates as Marvel fans begin to guess exactly what part Andy Serkis could be playing in The Avengers: Age of Ultron. There's really an unlimited number of roles it could be, and some of them could wind up being downright heart-stopping surprises that the movie has in store. While Josh Brolin is providing the character's voice, maybe Serkis will be providing the physicality of Thanos? Maybe Marvel decided to do something special for the Hulkbuster sequence and it's actually Andy Serkis in the Iron Man armor:
While Serkis wouldn't elaborate much more about his own role in Star Wars: Episode VII, he did have some interesting and very actor-y things to say about working with Ruffalo and his take on Hulk. Because Ruffalo already played the giant green beast in the first Avengers, Variety asked Serkis why he would need coaching the second time around:
Performance capture was used on the previous Hulk, but not to the same extent Mark is using it now. There are tools and ways of working with an actor that makes them feel that they own the character. And a character the size of the Hulk needs ownership, which Mark has now.
The Avengers: Age of Ultron will be in theaters May 1, 2015.