The 'rare genius' of Andy Serkis
Tom Huddleston talks to actor Andy Serkis about 'Burke and Hare', 'Tintin' and his new motion capture animation studio
I imagine part of the appeal of ‘Burke and Hare’ was working with John Landis?
‘Undoubtedly. He’s such a legend. I grew up adoring “The Blues Brothers” and “An American Werewolf in London”. He is a force of nature. In his heyday he was always the youngest man in the room, the maverick. Now he’s still the maverick and he’s the oldest man in the room! He’s a walking encyclopaedia of old Hollywood and yet he’s so connected to young filmmakers. He branches across the spectrum of geekdom.’
Speaking of geeks, is this the first time you’ve worked with Simon Pegg?
‘Yeah. It was brilliant working with Simon. We used to live three streets away from each other in Crouch End, so the first time I met him was when I almost knocked him down with my people carrier.’
It’s a remarkable cast: Christopher Lee, Jenny Agutter, Bill Bailey. Was there anyone you were especially excited to work with?
‘Ronnie Corbett! He said, “I’m breaking into movies and I’m 82!” The highlight was watching John Landis directing Ronnie Corbett. The way John directs is very forthright, he’s not a subtle actor’s director. It’s all just “Slower! Faster!” His words to Corbett were, “Don’t act with your fucking eyebrows, Ronnie!”’
What can you say about ‘Tintin’?
‘It’s an entirely performance-captured movie, the whole thing was shot in one studio. The idea is to create a three-dimensional rendering of Hergé’s drawings. But the characters are truthful because they’re acted, not just voiced over. It’s the perfect tool to bring those stories to life.’
What about ‘The Hobbit’? Clearly you’ll be Gollum again, but will you try your hand at other characters?
‘We’ve discussed many things, but nothing’s nailed down. Shooting “The Hobbit” will be completely different because it’s an entirely fresh story, a new cast for the most part. I’m very excited about it.’
What can you tell me about the performance-capture studio you’re putting together in London?
‘It’s called The Imaginarium. We’re going to be a working studio and we’ve got our own material that we’ll produce. But we’ll also service films and games and it’ll be an academy, not just for performance-capture acting but for all sorts. The idea is to treat it as a laboratory to push the art form forward.’
Finally, well done on being described as possessing a ‘rare genius’ in David Thomson’s new ‘Biographical Dictionary of Film’.
‘Wow! I don’t know what that word means really! It’s bandied around quite a bit. I don’t consider myself a genius, I just happened to be around the right place at the right time. I’m just part of a process.’
Read our review of 'Burke and Hare'
Author: Interview: Tom Huddleston
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