I wonder if Andy Serkis ever wishes he was “just” an actor.
Probably not. There are few people I encounter in this business who seem to be filled with the same sort of genuine joy as him right now, and all the time. For someone who hasn't spent a lot of time onscreen in a recognizable way, he certainly seems to be recognized everywhere he goes, and based on the way I've seen people react to him, he's beloved.
Deservedly so. First, he's a genuinely great actor, a guy who throws himself into a part completely. I've never seen Serkis give anything less than 100% to a role, and it seems like more and more, he's becoming a mentor to other performers who are making the jump from traditional live-action work to this remarkable hybrid that he has mastered.
“One of the crucial parts of the process in this one was the ape camp,” he told me. “We did these long extended improvisations, and we started from the premise that they all that their individual ape vocalizations.” He went on to discuss the way they built both the culture of the apes and the language that they're using, and I love how it sounds like they really got to build it all as a cast. In talking to him about how more and more actors are working in this, I acknowledged that at this point, almost no one who takes a major performance capture role does so without first talking to Serkis about it.
“I've sort of strangely become this spokesperson for performance capture, and all I say to actors who really want to use it and who are not afraid of it and want to embrace it is… it's a tool. It's not a special type of acting. It's acting, as we all do.”
There's no more basic truth than that, and I think more and more actors are starting to realize that they're not going to be replaced by this process. I'm sorry I didn't get into it more with Gary Oldman when we spoke, because I've heard he really loved getting to play Tiny Tim in the Zemeckis version of “A Christmas Carol,” and I'm pretty sure that couldn't happen any other way except with performance capture. Each actor who works like this gets to carry the message out to other actors, and when you see the work that Toby Kebbel does in this movie, or the way the rest of the ensemble inhabits their characters, you'll see just how far they've come in terms of truly capturing the nuance of what's done on-set.
And at the end of the interview, for those of you who know “Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes” well, you'll see just how I chose to show my respect for the work Serkis has done so far. He's the best.
“Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes” opens everywhere on Friday.