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Feature: The Return of the King

In two minds...

Without even showing his face onscreen, Andy Serkis has become one of the most sought-after actors around thanks to his role as Gollum. He tells us about the experience of making the trilogy.

Are you happy or sad that itís coming to an end?
ďBoth. Obviously, itís been such an incredible five years, or four years or whatever it is. Itís a little strange feeling really because I know weíre all planning to go on seeing each other, so although the film journey is coming to an end, it just doesnít feel like it. Actually, thereíll be the DVD releases and all of the promotions of that, and I think that weíre all looking forward to these next couple of months and celebrating the final one going out. So, at this point in time, it never feels like the end. Iíve hardly finished yet.
I still have more stuff to do on it anyway. I actually had actually shoot a scene last week, and the film has already been delivered, which was then cut into the movie immediately, even before the animators worked on it and I laid down some tracks. Iím going back to London on Saturday and Iíve got to do more on a vocal track. So, I donít actually feel like Iím finished yet.

A lot of people were astonished that you didnít win an Oscar for The Two Towers, and reckon that if youíd been giving a voice and body language performance from behind a mask, like John Hurt in The Elephant Man, you would have done.
I think people have a strange Ďunknowingí about the word pixels, because itís new and weíve just developed it. The technology has changed dramatically between when I started on the films to just now. The technology that we were using in June, for instance, itís moved on such a lot. We were shooting motion capture, which is wearing a suit with dots all over it to move a computer-generated image, but we were shooting it at the same time as shooting on set, and thatís never ever been done before. Four years ago, itíd never been thought about being done. So it continues to evolve.
Also, the definition of it has changed. Itís moving away from being called motion capture to performance capture, because motion sounds like itís just collecting movements, but actually, youíre capturing a performance, an actorís performance. That came from the Screen Actorsí Guild, who think that thatís probably a better way of terming it. As an actor, Iím very interested in developing it further because it has fantastic potential. Itís a new genre of acting that opens up the possibility of playing, really, any character that you like as an actor. Youíre bound by your own physicality, your own body shape up to a certain point, but with this you can play someone like Gollum. Anyoneís body could be scanned into a computer and they could assign dots to your body shape and then they could assign those dots to mine and I could walk around with your body on the screen, providing that I could find the psychology to go with it and a voice. Thatís what acting is about.

by Ian Spelling

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Visual © Visual Imagination Ltd, The Lord of the Rings © New Line Cinema
Feature © Visual Imagination 2003. Not for reproduction

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