Exclusive Interview: Andy Serkis, Part Two

By Katey Rich 2009-01-22 19:31:36discussion comments
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With Inkheart opening in theaters nationwide this Friday, here's the second part of our exclusive interview with Andy Serkis. The actor better known as Gollum or King Kong plays Capricorn here, a character who is plucked out of the fantasy world of the book "Inkheart" and is allowed to run amok, amassing power, in the real world. I started by asking Serkis what drew him to play such a baddie in the first place.

What was so compelling to you about playing a really bad villain?
First of all, just the interest of playing a character who has come out of a fantasy world into this world. His identity in that world was a no-one, a complete gopher for a character called the Adderhead. And suddenly he arrives in this other parallel universe, and suddenly he's a man who gets imbued with a lot of power. And so he both is seeking that power, and is seeking a rise to power, and he's ruthless in getting there. But he also is kind of afraid of what that power is. I really thought that was quite interesting. The way it's written is he's quite urbane and funny and witty. But the jokes are borne out of someone who, if people don't laugh at his jokes, then they get killed. It's that self-delusion, the golfish bowl he's created, his mini-empire. So those are the sorts of things that inspired me, and also Cornelia Funke's writing. She's a German author, and her heritage, and what she's put in the book are the dark undertones of the rise of Fascism. The black shirts, and the burning of the books, and all of those things which are images that we kind of associate with the rise of Fascism is definitely Capricorn's journey.

Does that surprise you when it's a kid's book and you find those dark things?
For me, I always try to link it in with something that is tangible from this world, or history, that is going to resonate in some way. That's why fantasy works for me, and I think it works for other people, because you can tell truths through an artistic filter, which can tell you something about the world you're living it.

Was it satisfying to come back to fantasy?
Yeah, it was great. But with this kind of twist. When he comes out, he immediately discards that old identity, and dresses in Versace, and wants to look fantastic and completely rid himself of that previous image. It is quite an interesting concept, playing a fantasy character in this world.

The power in the movie, being able to make things real by reading them out loud, seems to come from the author's really deep love of books. Do you share that love and belief in the power of books?
Oh yeah, absolutely. And belief in the power of the imagination, and the personal kind of relationship you have with a character of a book. I'll give you an example. Ruby, my daughter-- this book Inkheart was kind of spoiled for her by the fact that I was playing the character. I'd much rather she read the book, and imagined Capricorn first. Because it's a really important, vital-- and what's more important than your own imagination? I think that comes across. There are those references to the other books, The Wizard of Oz and Excalibur. They're nice to be found.

What were some of the more challenging scenes to film? I imagine the final scene was.
That was a big sequence. That kind of climactic sequences, with the Shadow appearing, took the best part of a week. The amount of camera coverage was immense. Then I had makeup which, as I get dissolved. It was makeup and CG combination. One day I had kind of papier-mache stuck my head. By the third day I had this whole head mask of papier-mache. Then obviously they CGed the rest from there on it. But it was quite involved.

For you is that the fun part, or is it just tiring?
It is quite tiring, having that stuff stuck to your face all day. But, you know-- having been through Lord of the Rings, nothing has been as challenging physically.

So what were the really fun parts for you?
All those groups scenes were really fun to do. It was such a fantastic cast, and a really neat bunch of actors who were willing to put themselves through it. We went to northern Italy; it was wonderful going to there, and all those ramshackle hilltop villages there. You didn't have to imagine anything, it's all there. It makes a lot of difference. That was Iain Softley's intent, to keep as much of it real as possible. He actually kept the CG down to a minimum.

Read part one of our exclusive interview with Andy Serkis right here.
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