ANDY SERKIS IS SUPREME LEADER SNOKE
ANDY SERKIS’ RÉSUMÉ INCLUDES ROLES AS DIVERSE AS GOLLUM IN THE LORD OF THE RINGS TRILOGY, CAPTAIN HADDOCK IN STEVEN SPIELBERG’S THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN, AND THE TITLE ROLE IN PETER JACKSON’S KING KONG. NOW, HE TAKES ON THE ROLE OF THE SHADOWY SUPREME LEADER SNOKE…
Star Wars Insider: How did you get involved in The Force Awakens?
Andy Serkis: It’s an interesting story, really. I knew the film was being made and was excited by the idea of it. At the time I was working on Dawn of the Planet of the Apes with [director] Matt Reeves, who knows J.J. Abrams. It so happened that J.J. was visiting Matt while he was doing a cut of Dawn. This was before any visual effects had been put in; before the ape actors had been replaced with visual effects. J.J. saw a cut with just the actors in it and was quite taken with it. He decided we should meet, so we met up at a hotel. It was fantastic; very much like we were jiving off each other. We really hit it off. It was clear we’d work together. I didn’t know exactly what I’d be playing, but he asked if I would like to be involved. I told him I would love to be involved in Star Wars.
Can you talk us through what performance capture is?
Performance capture is the art and craft of an actor embodying a role that will be manifested on screen as a computer generated character. But the authorship of the role, all the acting, takes place with other actors. Instead of putting on a costume and makeup beforehand, you’re playing the role without the help of those things, but neither the hindrance. All of the facial expressions, all your acting decisions, and the authorship of the role happen on set with the other actors. A clever team of animators and CG artists then have the job of transposing that performance onto a digital avatar without losing the nuance and subtlety and underlying performance of what the actor has given. That’s how motion capture works. What’s amazing is that it enables anyone to play anything. Philosophically, it’s the greatest acting tool of the 21st Century. It doesn’t matter what size you are. Stereotyping, or typecasting, is dead. It doesn’t matter what the color of your skin or your height or your sex is. It’s a brilliantly liberating tool that actors are finally seeing, and the more it’s used as a standard industry tool, it’s really proliferated.
Do you feel the pressure for a film like this?
I came off a huge press tour for Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and every single question was about Star Wars. People are fascinated with Star Wars. It’s an incredibly potent, powerful universe. There’s such a hunger for the stories. It’s great archetypal storytelling. J.J.’s really gotten back to the essence of what this story is about; the real humanness of the story. People are excited to see that. They know from what he’s done before, that he has such amazing heart and understanding of character and emotional truth in all the films he’s made. He’s the perfect guide and director for this. His desire is to tap into shooting on fi lm, on anamorphic lenses, using puppetry and old-school methodologies to bring the story back into the public consciousness. He’s done such an amazing job; it looks amazing. I think the fans will fl ip their minds!