Posted on Friday, June 10th, 2016 by Jack Giroux
Warcraft isn’t actor Toby Kebbell’s first rodeo with motion-capture. Following up his performance in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, in which he played Koba, Kebbell stars in director Duncan Jones‘ fantasy film as Durotan, a noble orc more interested in peace than war. The Blizzard adaptation shows both sides of a war — and Durotan is unquestionably the moral compass on the orcs’ side.
It’s this nobility and thoughtfulness, as Kebbell explained to us, that informed the physicality of his performance. Below, read our Toby Kebbell interview.
You worked with [movement choreographer] Terry Notary on Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and you worked with him again on Warcraft. Where do the two of you start when it comes to building a character?
Terry is a unique individual, as in his ability to teach you your basics: how you would stand, how you would sit, how you would crouch, how you would begin to run. His ability to figure out what you need to change in your foot, or your knee, or your shoulder. That’s what we call “selling out” in the motion-capture craft. If you give a half-performance, you basically … The computer tells you out, you know, it sells you out. There’s just no way for the computer to comprehend you’re having a bad day, or you’ve hurt your knee. You’ve got to give it 100% every time. He’s great for that.
On top of that, then you just build your character. He gives you such a nice arena to do that in. He takes away all the questions about the small details. How would I do that? How would I stand? How would that happen? Once you’ve been doing that consistently for a week, then you take it home. You start to take your produce out of the fridge and do it in the manner of the orc or sit on the lavatory in the same way. It just becomes something you inhabit, and then you can build your character. It’s just such a nice process to have Terry around. I could happily say he’s a lifesaver.
What sort of physicality did you want to create for Durotan?
I constantly from the beginning was saying he’s a very, very noble person in the sense of… Having the heart to be a hero is really all that will make it in the end, you know. Beyond the glory of what was heroic in the film, and in the script, and what we were going to end up doing; really it was about how he came into being. The nice thing about working on a project that’s created by Blizzard and has this massive following is, people have done details, fans have made films. It was very clear who Durotan was. A lot of things that you would usually do to conjure the character had been done, so you could just research them.
With Terry, we just wanted to make sure that he had… He had a lumber that was easy. He didn’t have to stand proud. He didn’t have to stand big. He didn’t have to make himself large. If anything, he would make himself somewhat smaller you know. Just a smooth walk, nothing with great massive presence until it was required. He was a big thinker, and that was really what I wanted Durotan to be. It was a deep, deep thinker.
Mentioning the wealth of information at your disposal, in your research, did any piece of information, in particular, inform your performance?
You know, none of the facts out there informed anything more than a short film made about where Durotan came from, and how he became the chieftain of the Frostwolf Clan. It’s animated, but it’s partial animation; it’s a picture where the camera moves across the image. It’s a lovely little story about the final time he saw his mother and his elder brother. That was very informative because it gave the understanding that there’s a wrath and a rage inside of Durotan that he can keep at bay. He has control of his tiger, if you like. He has control of the temper that’s within. That was very informative.
Furthermore to that, I watched a documentary called Happy People: A Year in the Taiga. It’s a great documentary. The main guy had a great manner about him. I showed the film to Terry, and he loved it. That’s really what we worked on, is that calm, the thoughtfulness that we really wanted for Durotan, that I really wanted for Durotan.