Thanks to Kenneth for alerting me to this!
An Interview with Andy Serkis
FilmForce – Janaury 27, 2003
Few people have partaken of the latest installment of the Lord of the Rings trilogy without departing the theater blown away by a single character: Gollum.
Leaving such digital window dressing as Jar Jar and Dobby far, far behind, Gollum is an honest-to-gosh living, breathing screen presence. He thinks, he feels, and he leaves audiences entranced by the sheer artistry at play.
A good deal of that artistry lies in the actor behind Gollum, Andy Serkis. In conjunction with the amazing animators at WETA, Serkis’s every nuance was translated into the digital form of the twisted ring junkie, rendering a performance that is every bit as Oscar-worthy as a Michael Caine or a Jack Nicholson. In fact, Serkis’ portrayal of Gollum has brought the Academy kicking and screaming into the 21st century, forcing them to confront the implications of an actor-driven digital performance.
A classically trained stage and screen actor, Andy Serkis has starred in films ranging from Topsy Turvy to the recent 24 Hour Party People (check out his official website at www.serkis.com.
And now, our in-depth interview with Andy Serkis…
IGN FILMFORCE: Am I correct in understanding you were born in West London?
ANDY SERKIS: That’s right, yes.
IGNFF: Now this would be what, the early ’60s?
SERKIS: It was 1964, yeah.
IGNFF: How would you describe, or sum up, your childhood at that time?
SERKIS: It was a fairly happy childhood. My father was working away, and my mum brought up five kids all on her own.
IGNFF: Which is quite an accomplishment…
SERKIS: It certainly is. So she taught handicapped children, and brought us up – we had a lot of au pairs in the house, kind of looking after us when she was away. My dad was working abroad, in Iraq, and he was a doctor. We used to go and visit him, in Baghdad, off and on. For the first ten years of my life, we used to go backwards and forwards to Baghdad, so that was quite amazing. I spent a lot of time traveling around the Middle East.
IGNFF: How did those trips affect your worldview at the time?
SERKIS: I never felt totally, 100%, patriotically English … I’d seen a lot of the world by an early age – sort of spent a lot of time traveling around Lebanon and I’d seen Babylon, and Damascus, and all sorts of places in the Middle East by the time I was ten. Then we’d return to Ruslip in West London … Done a fair bit of traveling really.
IGNFF: Would you say that your field of vision wasn’t as limited as that of children who never left England might have been?
SERKIS: I guess I just tend to feel at home wherever I go. Now, it’s had an effect on me later in years, and wherever I go – I really enjoy traveling a lot and feel at home wherever I lay my hat, basically. I can get on with all different sorts of people, and I never feel homesick, particularly, or I’ve never felt kind of patriotic towards any one country.
IGNFF: So it’s made you more flexible in the long run?
SERKIS: Yeah, I guess.
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