By MEGAN TURNER
February 20, 2002 — LOOK out, Jar Jar Binks – there’s a new movie creature coming to wipe that goofy grin off your computer-generated face.
The second installment of “Lord of the Rings” will prominently feature a slimy little reptilian creature named Gollum.
The second installment, “Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers,” will feature two other fearsome creatures: Oliphonts – gigantic beasts resembling prehistoric mastodons – and Wargs, which are wolves the size of horses.
But the creature that has Tolkien fans salivating is Gollum, the hobbit-gone-bad audiences barely glimpsed in “Fellowship.”
“He’s not just a computer-generated creature – he’s a dramatic character in the piece,” executive producer Mark Ordesky said from New Zealand, where he and Oscar-nominated director Peter Jackson are in “furious post-production” on the film, which opens this Christmas.
One of Tolkien’s most complex characters, Gollum began life as an innocent hobbit named Smeagol, but turned to the dark side after becoming obsessed with the Ring that promises power and immortality.
He covets the ring so badly he eventually becomes physically transformed into an ugly, slithery creature.
“Gollum ultimately has to break your heart,” Ordesky says. “He’s not merely a villain – you have to feel for him.”
To make Gollum lifelike, Jackson’s effects company used a combination of traditional animation and motion capture, in which the movements of actor Andy Serkis were fed into a computer and transferred onto the creature.
“I play him as if he’s a junkie and his fix is the ring – he goes cold turkey when he’s not near it,” says Serkis. “I’ve tried to make him as human as possible in that way.”