Few actors are as well-known as Andy Serkis, at least for performers who rarely show their human face on-screen. Serkis has been on the forefront of the motion-capture revolution, a category of performance where one acts out a role that will be portrayed by a computer graphic imaging (CGI) creation in the finished film. Serkis has done this as Gollum in the Lord of the Rings films, as the title character in King King, and as Cesar in now two chapters of The Planet of the Apes series. Now the question is, will Serkis be playing a motion-capture, or mo-cap, part in Star Wars Episode VII, or will fans get a rare look at the actor’s face? In a recent interview, Serkis offered an ambiguous answer…
“J.J. Abrams and I met, and we just had this incredible kind of vibe between us,” Serkis told Sci-Fi Now. “He said, ‘You’d fit really well in this universe,’ and I said, ‘I think I probably could.’ We’re working very closely, as I say, in two ways: the Imaginarium is providing all of the performance characters, and I myself am playing a character in it.”
Interesting that he separated the two in conversation. First of all, what’s “the Imaginarium?” Well, it’s a production studio that specializes in motion-capture performances that Serkis started in 2011 with Jonathan Cavendish. Their work will be clearly evident next week in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, which used the Imaginarium’s facility and personnel to bring the army of apes to life and are ideally suited for a project like Episode VII. Again though, you’ll notice that he separates his work with the Imaginarium from the second fact, which is that he’s playing a character in the film.
So does that mean that Serkis will be in the film, in the flesh? Obviously Serkis gave nothing else away.
“It’s extraordinary,” Serkis said about being part of the project. “I grew up with Star Wars and was a massive fan of the original films. I never imagined in a million years that I’d be engaging with this. It’s just come about so organically.
“I’m thrilled, deeply excited. Sitting at that read-through the other day was just extraordinary,” he added. “It was an amazing event; being with the original cast was just incredible. I just think the script is so wonderful, and both the old and the newbies in the cast are just so thrilled and excited to get together.”
Fans should be excited about the involvement of Serkis whether or not he’s doing mo-cap work, as he’s done great live-action performances in genre films like King Kong, as the ship’s cook Lumpy, and in Christopher Nolan’s The Prestige as Nikola Tesla’s assistant Alley. He even played Albert Einstein once in the BBC TV Movie Einstein & Eddington. He’s got range, and it will interesting to see how Abrams uses it in the Star Wars universe.
Star Wars Episode VII will be in theaters everywhere December 2015.