Thomas Roach on Andy Serkis’ role in Star Wars: The Force Awakens…
With Star Wars: The Force Awakens being one of the most anticipated films of 2015 there is always going to be a great deal of speculation from fans. The film has wrapped production and the cast have all been sworn to secrecy in order to not ruin any of the story before its release this December, with Oscar Issac even going so far as to say that the theories from fans “couldn’t be more far off-base”.
With that said, I have been thinking about how Andy Serkis will fit into the film. We heard him do the voiceover in the trailer but we don’t know who he is portraying. While this may not be as exciting as his character’s name or whether he’s a hero or a villain, I believe that Serkis will be portraying a live action role in the movie as opposed to his usual performance capture.
Firstly I would remind people that this new Star Wars film has promised to be let reliant of visual effects. Over the past few years cinemagoers have seemed to have turned against the overuse of CGI. With the promise of practical effects I would assume that Andy Serkis will not be doing motion capture but will be playing a live action role. He may be in lots of make up, but I believe the practical effects we have been promised likely means no motion capture.
During the promotion of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Serkis revealed how he was approached for the role in Star Wars. In an interview with Clevver Movies, Serkis said that Matt Reeves and J.J. Abrams are good friends and Reeves showed Abrams early footage of Apes before the special effects had been added. Abrams saw the raw footage of Serkis wearing motion capture gear and noticed how well Serkis performed. Because of this, Serkis was offered a role. One might argue that because his role in Apes was motion capture and that is what Abrams saw, his Star Wars role must be motion capture, but I disagree.
Serkis is renowned for his performance capture work so if there was a role in Star Wars that required it surely Serkis’ name would be top of the list anyway. I think Abrams saw something in Serkis beyond the motion capture. Ignoring the fact he does motion capture, he is a fantastic actor and he delivers great performances. Serkis has explained in many interviews how everything that appears in the final CGI character he creates is from him. It is no different from an actor wearing make up or a costume at the end of the day.
Serkis has done his fair share of live action roles in the past, even earning a BAFTA nomination for his role in Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll, where he played Ian Dury. Serkis was also brought on to help Mark Ruffalo and James Spader do motion capture in Avengers: Age of Ultron, earning a live-action role in that film too. I think Serkis is being taken more seriously as an actor in both motion capture and live action now, and I would love to see him get nominatied for an Oscar for his role in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes – although it is highly unlikely.
As always this speculation could be completely wrong and Serkis may have been brought on board to do a motion capture character only. But, from what Serkis has said about the role, I believe it is live-action; telling us that it is motion capture would hardly spoil the film but the fact they are keeping that secret means to me that they are covering up something more unusual.
Do you think that Serkis is playing live action or doing motion capture, and how do you think his character might fit into the plot? Let us know…
Star Wars: The Force Awakens is set for release December 18th, 2015.