Andy Serkis has had quite the prolific career as a motion-capture actor. Perhaps most famous for playing Gollum in Lord of the Rings (as well as the upcoming The Hobbit(es)), he’s also taken turns as Kong in King Kong, and, most recently, the ape Ceasar in Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Now, Serkis is speaking out about the lack of respect his profession is paid in the awards circuit, saying that actors who perform under motion-capture are just as deserving of Academy Awards as their live-action counterparts.
Now, before you jump in with something about what you did or did not think of Rise of the Planet of the Apes, remember that the issue is much larger than this one movie. I personally have not yet actually seen the movie, so feel free to tell me if I’m completely off-base, but I do remember the ape’s performance being the most stand-out to me in the trailer. Looking at all the work actors like Serkis do in such well-known movies, I don’t think it would be off-base to say that their work is undervalued.
Here’s what Serkis had to say on the matter, in an interview with the BBC:
“The emotional content of these performances live and die by what the actors bring to the roles on set. I never approach a live-action role any differently to a performance-captured role. The process of acting is absolutely identical.”It should be recognised that there are two parts to the process. The first part is capturing the performance. Only later down the line do you start seeing the characters being painted over frame by frame using pixels.”
In a separate interview, he said:
“I am a bit evangelical, I know, but performance-capture is still misunderstood. Ten years down the line, people say, ‘Oh, so you did the voice of Gollum?’ Or people go, ‘You did the movements for [King]Kong?’ It’s frustrating, because I play Gollum and I play Kong. It is acting.”
He also insists that there need be no Oscar categories added–he should be in with the rest of the acting categories just like everybody else.
Now, to us, this issue is a lot less about whether Serkis in particular deserves to win an Oscar over recent nominees in the top acting categories, or over his co-stars in the film’s in which he’s taken part. But would it be really nice to see his–and other actors and actresses like him in the motion-capture business–be given more of a chance to receive such accolades? We’d say yes.
So, yes, we think Serkis and others like him deserve recognition from the proper channels when their work calls for it (just like any other actor). We also think, however, that the same respect and recognition should be paid any animators who helped to skin the character, as well. Which they have, in a way, with the Best Special Effects category in the Academy Awards and other major award shows. So why not recognize all the talent that goes into bringing these characters to life?