Andy Serkis, Motion-Capture Acting And The Oscars

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Andy Serkis is certainly a professional at what he does. The English actor now has motion capture roles under his belt for of The Lord of the Rings and The HobbitThe Adventures of Tintin,  King Kong and Rise of Planet of the Apes but the he may not be doing himself any favors for future job opportunities with comments he’s been making about the industry and who deserves to be recognized for what at the Oscars. 

Speaking with the Hollywood Reporter recently, Serkis discussed his most recent role first. When asked if Tintin should considered in this year’s animation category at the Academy Awards he said, “The category of animation should be under review because Tintin is entirely derived from actors’ performances created in a conventional live-action way and manifested onscreen in a painterly, animated fashion. There has to be a review of all these storytelling methods. It’s not necessary to exclude one from a category. A lot of people are being quite defensive about it. I think people should not be so Luddite. Don’t say, ‘No, traditional animation is this.’ They’ve got to think out of the box and start to embrace all these different methods and mediums. This year will be a very interesting watershed point in our understanding.”

Understandably, the actor is somewhat frustrated about people debating what he’s spent the last few years of his life doing. “Acting is acting,” he said. “Performance capture is a technology, not a genre; it’s just another way of recording an actor’s performance.”

Although he’s been outspoken on the subject before, Serkis may run into a little trouble with what he said when THR asked him if there should be a separate category at the Oscars for motion-capture acting.

It should be in the [regular] acting category because the acting part of the process is entirely the same. I’ve been bombarded by hate mail from animators saying, “How dare you talk about ‘your’ character when all these people work on it after the fact? We’re actors as well.” They are actors in the sense that they create key frames and the computer will join up the dots, carefully choreograph a moment or an expression and accent it with an emotion. But that’s not what an actor does. An actor finds things in the moment with a director and other actors that you don’t have time to hand-draw or animate with a computer.

I kind of don’t know where to side on this one. I definitely believe Serkis puts as much work into his roles as any other actor. He’s there every day acting out the part and while not all his roles have been speaking roles, I imagine it takes a great deal of preparation. But on the other hand, I can see why the folks behind the scenes are miffed at him for claiming the roles are his work alone. I agree though that the Academy is going to have to start reviewing awards based on the world of film that is changing around them.

Regardless, Fox announced this week they’ll be pushing for a Supporting Actor nomination for Serkis’ work on Apes.

(via The Hollywood Reporter)

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Jill Pantozzi
Jill Pantozzi is a pop-culture journalist and host who writes about all things nerdy and beyond! She’s Editor in Chief of the geek girl culture site The Mary Sue (Abrams Media Network), and hosts her own blog “Has Boobs, Reads Comics” ( She co-hosts the Crazy Sexy Geeks podcast along with superhero historian Alan Kistler, contributed to a book of essays titled “Chicks Read Comics,” (Mad Norwegian Press) and had her first comic book story in the IDW anthology, “Womanthology.” In 2012, she was featured on National Geographic’s "Comic Store Heroes," a documentary on the lives of comic book fans and the following year she was one of many Batman fans profiled in the documentary, "Legends of the Knight."