The question about actors qualifying for Oscar when performing under layers of makeup and prosthetics goes back years. The conversation has intensified in recent years with the rise of motion-capture technology, and since Andy Serkis helped incarnate Gollum in The Lord of the Rings there has been a push to give Academy recognition to actors, specifically Serkis, who aren’t directly seen on screen.

Serkis’ work in this summer’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes was a crucial part of that film’s best character, the ape Caesar. Since the film’s release the level of chatter about Oscar recognition for mo-cap work has definitely risen. And now Tom Rothman, the co-chairman and CEO of Fox, says that he will push for a Best Supporting Actor nomination for Serkis.

Speaking in NYC Monday night, as reported by THR, Rothman said,

I think we may be at the place where we will see a first-ever in Hollywood this year, which is to see Andy Serkis get nominated for a best supporting actor for Planet of the Apes, even though his face never actually appears. But his performance appears, so we are going to push that hard.

Rothman went on to praise the work done by Serkis in Rise,

I think part of what we have to do is help educate people to understand that that is 100 percent his performance. It is great emotional acting. Tom Hanks didn’t have to say any dialogue in Castaway for it to be a great performance… The emotionality – what you see and what you feel – he did it. I saw him. I watched him. Then they digitally overlaid – you can think of it as a costume – the skin and the hair of an ape. But I tell you the thing that people felt – and a lot of people where moved when they saw the movie – is because of his performance.

Of course, this isn’t an idle thing for Fox, since an Oscar nod for Serkis would be a newsworthy, groundbreaking thing, and consequently great publicity for a film that has already done much better business than many expected.

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