Andy Serkis Talks About His Surprise Return To Star Wars In Andor [Exclusive Interview]

There is nobody quite like Andy Serkis. Sure, there are lots of people in the entertainment industry who are multi-hyphenates, but the level at which Serkis is operating is truly remarkable. From helping to pioneer motion capture technology as Gollum in "The Lord of the Rings" to bringing one of the most fully-realized CGI creations ever created to life in the recent "Planet of the Apes" trilogy, his place at the intersection of technology and performance is unparalleled. Couple that with the fact that he's also put his stamp on the Marvel Cinematic Universe, starred in hits like "The Batman," and directed hits like "Venom: Let There Be Carnage," and it's a pretty staggering resumé.

Yet, in the midst of all of that, Serkis recently found time to return to the "Star Wars" galaxy in "Andor" as a brand new character named Kino Loy. Serkis had previously played Snoke in the sequel trilogy, but this gave the actor a chance to get out from behind the veil of CGI and stretch his acting muscles in a different way. The reveal of Serkis was an absolute surprise, but a welcome one, and his character is amongst the most compelling introduced in the show to date.

I recently had the good fortune of speaking with Serkis about his return to a galaxy far, far away. We discussed the difference between playing Snoke and Kino, his preference to work rather than sleep, why he isn't directing "Venom 3," and much more.

'I never thought I'd be coming back into the universe'

I apologize if this is an obvious question with an obvious answer, but how does playing Kino compare to playing Snoke?

Well, you can't really compare them, in a way. They're so entirely different. I loved playing Snoke. Snoke was a great character to play. I never thought I'd be coming back into the universe to play another character, but when Tony Gilroy approached me and said, "Look, will you come and play Kino Loy?" I was like, "Is this going to be confusing to everybody?" There are so many Snoke theories flying about, is this really just going to throw fuel on the fire? I really didn't want to go down that road. But I really was such a big fan of "Rogue One," and Tony's description of the character of Kino Loy, it was so endearing in a way, because here was this man who actually really cares about the greater good, who is now incarcerated and loses touch with himself and becomes very cold hearted and just wants to survive and just look after number one.

Then [he] goes back on the reverse journey when he comes into touch with Cassian Andor and finds his common humanity again. I think that journey is really interesting. The world of the "Rogue One," it feels so gritty, and real, and human, and complex. Unlike the world that Snoke lives in, which is very much about the dark and the light, this is much more about the gray areas of the "Star Wars" universe.

Totally. I think the nice thing about Kino, too, is we had no idea it was going to be you. But I think the thing is that what "Star Wars" does better than anything, is a character that gets very little screen time, you can feel like you know them and you can connect with them quickly. Kino was the character I've done that with most in a long time. There's a moment in episode 9 where things change for him, where he goes, "Okay, you know what? Cassian might be right. Let's go." Was he just blissfully ignorant up to that point thinking, "I'm going to get out of this?" Or was he just doing what he needed to do to get through the day?

Look, he is used to living now and has been incarcerated for such a long time. He's used to a brutal existence, which really revolves around punishment or reward. Punishment by electrification and a reward by getting flavor in your food. He just wants to keep his head down. He's not interested. He's got a family that he wants to get back to. He's in this totalitarian nightmare, so he is closed down. But when Cassian starts to question the strength of the Empire, and actually sees that there are holes in it, once the realization happens that, in fact, that maybe he will never be released, that is intolerable to him. It's like a trigger switch which enables him to then stop thinking about just himself and his release, and think about all the other people who are suffering on this ship with him. He starts to think about the greater good, and how he might enable and affect a journey out of there alongside Cassian.

I think people get used to binging these days, and for me, that was the brilliance of episodic television, where at the end of that episode, you have never been more excited for more. "Let's go, I want episode 10. Let's do this."

It was great, it was a nice turn. Again, Tony's writing, and the team's writing with Tony, is just phenomenal.

Totally. You touched on the idea that you were concerned about confusion because people had all these theories about Snoke. But did you feel a little less pressure with this because with Snoke, you were perceived as the big new bad guy and "Star Wars" was relaunching, whereas this, nobody knows you're in it. You just get to be you.

No, I felt much less pressure because I kept the whole thing a secret for a long time. Nobody knew about it until last week. There was no pressure whatsoever in the sense of it being out there. I think that was a great thing not having it announced earlier.

I agree.

It's just a thought in a room. It's a nice surprise, I think, hopefully for everybody. It certainly took the pressure off.

'I like working. I love it. I don't sleep'

I think one thing you don't get enough credit for is, people talk about how The Rock is the busiest guy in Hollywood. I don't understand when you sleep. I was trying to do the math in my head. You directed "Venom: Let There Be Carnage," and then you do "The Batman," and you somehow squeeze this in. How on Earth did you fit this into your schedule?

I like working. I love it. I don't sleep, I should really. Everyone tells me it's really bad for you, not sleeping, and I know they're right. But I'm not great at it. I mean, there's just a lot of projects going on. I mean, for instance, I was also working on "Animal Farm," which is coming out. We're halfway through at the moment. Also "The Bastard Son & The Devil Himself," which we've just released on Netflix, which is doing great, and I encourage people to watch. I'm not a good sleeper, but I should try at some point to do it.

This is a bit more broad, but when I look at it, "Lord of the Rings," "Planet of the Apes," "Star Wars," Marvel, some of these on multiple levels — do you ever stop to just think about the level at which you have impacted popular culture through these things that you've done over the years? Because it's pretty incredible.

I mean, it's so funny, I feel so privileged to have been part of all of these universes on the one hand, but on the other, I feel very comfortable there. I love going, I do a lot of Comic-Cons, and I love meeting fans, I love that world. I just love metaphorical storytelling, having these big canvases to be part of. I guess I feel very lucky and at home in this world.

You've been doing a lot more directing as of late. You mentioned "Animal Farm," which I'm really looking forward to. I think it was my favorite thing I read when they forced us to read stuff in school.

Me, too.

That, and "Masque of the Red Death" were the two things that I liked. So you were Snoke, you're here in "Andor." Would you see directing "Star Wars" as something you would do in the future? Is that a conversation you've had, or thought about having?

I mean, who wouldn't? Of course I'd love to direct a "Star Wars" movie, so who knows. One day maybe, I don't know.

This is way off topic, but we just got confirmation that Kelly Marcel is directing "Venom 3." You did "Venom 2." Was there any conversation about you coming back for "Venom 3?" Or did you just say, "I did the one, that's good for me?"

No, look, I had a ball doing that. Tom Hardy is such a good friend of mine, and I felt very proud of the work and we had such fun doing it. To be the custodian of that franchise for a little while was great. I've got so many projects that have been — like "Animal Farm," for instance. We were just about to go into production with that and then we delayed as "Venom" came up. I really have to be very on top of the ones that I've been building to do for such a long time. But I'm really delighted that Kelly's doing that. She's so in control of that material with Tom. The pair of them are such a great team to work with. I'm really excited to see what they're going to come up with.

"Andor" returns with new episodes Wednesdays on Disney+.