Translating reel to real

Translating reel to real

Having delivered masterpieces like Lord of the Rings, War of the Planet of Apes, Star Wars, Andy Serkis never lets one down With so many accolades and...

Having delivered masterpieces like ‘Lord of the Rings’, ‘War of the Planet of Apes’, ‘Star Wars’, Andy Serkis never lets one down. With so many accolades and exciting projects coming up, Andy Serkis shares his thoughts on the development of his character, Caesar, the changing motion capture landscape, why it was important tell this story and his thoughts on being a director and actor. ‘War of the Planet of the Apes’ will make its Indian television debut on Independence Day at 1 pm and 9 pm on Star Movies.


What changes have you seen in the space of technology and motion capture since the year 2001?
Motion capture, the physical capture of the body has not changed a great deal since 2001 other than that you can shoot out side on location. That is a big thing that is changed. Before you could only shoot at that time in a volume with cameras in a studio in 360 degree, but now when we were shooting for ‘War for the Planet of the Apes’ we were able to take the cameras outside and shoot on location. So that is one thing. Of course, facial capture is probably the most significant difference because when we were shooting ‘Lord of the Rings’ when I was playing Gollum there was no facial capture.

It was basically my performance in the films and the animators copied frame by frame exactly what my face was doing. But this is directly drive to a certain extent, you have markers on your face, you have a head mounted camera and then the skill is of the artists with the VFX company to take that performance which goes into the cut and Matt watches the scenes and creates all the drama and the beats and everything. He lives with that cut for nearly a year whilst the VFX start to come in and then they end up taking the facial performance and translating it into the physiognomy of the ape characters. That’s the big leap forward, the facial side of it and the rendering, the honouring of the actor’s performances got greater.

Tell us about Caeser, how has he changed in this film?
He has, he has reached a point where, we pick up this movie three year off where the apes are struggling to fight for survival and Caeser is trying to make a final offer for peace with the human army that’s hemming them in and he treated to the opposite. Basically, an event happens to him in the beginning of the movie that sends him off, he suffers personal loss that sends him on a trajectory of hate and revenge. So, it’s very different Caeser that we see from the other iterations of the character where he is empathetic leader who is trying to keep his tribe together. He goes off on a solo mission of revenge.

Why do audiences need to witness the end?
Caeser really at the end of this movie becomes a character, who becomes a legend, becomes a myth, he becomes the way forward and a character that the apes were able to believe in. He is a good example of leader who was able to be empathetic who created a society with strong laws, strong beliefs and other than his journey in ‘War for the Planet of the Apes’, which pitched him into a journey of revenge and hatred and rage, he finds himself again, sober. By the end of this movie, there is a resolution, he has a Moses like journey, he has taken them to the promise land, he now has done what he set out to do. And so, there is in a way it feels the right time to let the next generation make it into a planet of apes.

What do the apes reflect back on us on our own humanity as they face the dilemmas’ war and search for a new home?
The entire story is built around a metaphor of apes reflecting humanity. It is so much easier in a way to be able to see ourselves through by abstracting ourselves and being able to see a society which is very similar to our own. That’s why these films have endured, that’s why they continue to be really powerful while they still can be social commentary, they can still be this brilliant combination of being anti-entertainment but at the same time be moving powerful engaging and comment on the planet.

How many non-human characters have you played?
Weird thing was that when we finished ‘Lord of the Rings’, I thought I'd be going back to my career as a normal actor. Do stage, TV and film but then Peter Jackson asked, "Do you want to play King Kong?” I jumped from a three and a half foot Junky to a 25-foot Guerilla. This is the end of typecasting as we know it. Anyone can play anything.

‘Mowgli’ will be soon going to be out, and the trailer seems intriguing, what’s new with this Mowgli?
It's grounded. Almost like a historical piece. But, honestly, the preconceptions are really hard to get over. Everyone expects the animals to have American accents, for instance. People are really shocked that they have British accents.

Sourced exclusively for The Hans India

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