Why Andy Serkis Continued Motion Capture Acting After The Lord Of The Rings

Andy Serkis motion capture work in War for the Planet of the Apes

Andy Serkis has been acting for nearly 30 years, but ask anyone who's familiar with him, and they likely are most familiar with him from his motion capture performances. Serkis first made his mark in that area when he played Gollum/Smeagol in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but had things gone the way the actor originally imagined, he would have gone straight back to his usual kind of work. As it turns out, we have Peter Jackson again to thank for setting Serkis permanently on the motion capture path because Jackson wanted him for the King Kong remake. Serkis explained:

When we finished Lord of the Rings, I just thought, 'I'm gonna go back to my career as a normal actor. Doing stage, and film and TV. And then Peter Jackson said, 'You wanna play King Kong?' And I thought, 'Man, I'm going to go from a 3 ½ foot ring junkie to a 25 foot gorilla.' This is the end of typecasting as we know it. This is it! You can play anything. Anyone can play anything.

So had Peter Jackson not been keen on Andy Serkis playing King Kong's eponymous beast, Serkis would have moved along in his career like any other actor by taking more "normal" roles and keeping Gollum/Smeagol as his sole time performing a motion capture character. Let's all give Jackson a round of applause then for him bringing Serkis on to King Kong (where he also played Lumpy the Cook), as since then, Serkis has established himself as the biggest motion capture actor in Hollywood. Sure Serkis may not be as recognizable because his most famous roles are the ones where you don't see his face, but as he pointed while appearing on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, he has more freedom than ever now with the acting jobs he takes. Thanks to this particular brand of post-production movie magic, the sky's the limit!

You can watch Andy Serkis' full interview with Stephen Colbert below, which includes him briefly reprising Gollum for a special occasion.

Since playing King Kong, Andy Serkis' other motion capture work has included playing Caesar in the Planet of the Apes reboot series, Supreme Leader Snoke in Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Captain Haddock in The Adventures of Tintin. He also reprised Smeagol in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, while also serving as the second unit director for all the entries of that prequel trilogy. Looking to the future, he'll continue to voice Snoke in Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Star Wars: Episode IX, as well as play Baloo in Warner Bros' Jungle Book movie, which he's also directing and producing. Outside of the motion capture realm, he'll reprise Ulysses Klaue in Black Panther next February.

You can see Andy Serkis back on the big screen reprising Caesar in War for the Planet of the Apes starting this Friday (or tonight for those of you catching the Planet of the Apes reboot marathon).

Adam Holmes
Senior Content Producer

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.