Andy Serkis Talks 'Star Wars Episode VII' Performance Capture; Is He Playing A Mo-Cap Role?

When you've hired a person who is the best in the world at doing something, can you actually ask him not to do it? That's the question raised with respect to Star Wars Episode VII.  In a new interview, actor Andy Serkis spoke about the use of motion- and performance-capture in J.J. Abrams' sequel. He confirmed his company, The Imaginarium, would indeed be doing all the mo-cap for the film, adding "and I myself am playing a character in it." Does that mean he's a character in the Imaginarium's work or just a character in the movie?

It would certainly make sense for Serkis to play a performance capture role as he's the industry's top performer. He helped define the new art form with his work in in The Lord of the Rings, King Kong and Rise of the Planet of the Apes. But he's a fantastic actor with or without the computer. So what's the deal? Read the full Andy Serkis Star Wars quote below.

Serkis was speaking with Sci-Fi Now when he talked about the film:

It's extraordinary. 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.

JJ Abrams and I met, and we just had this incredible kind of vibe between us. 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.

I'm thrilled, deeply excited. Sitting at that read-through the other day was just extraordinary. 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.

So let's break down the semantics here, which may have been very deliberate on Serkis' part. "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." He specifically says there are two parts to that statement. That would suggest they are unrelated. Meaning, there are performance capture characters as well as his character. That doesn't necessarily mean his character is or isn't a performance capture, but it's not definitive by any means.

The bigger takeaway here before we know for sure is that the film will contain multiple performance-capture characters. Probably the other sequels and spin-offs too. And if that's the case, even if Serkis isn't playing one, he'll absolutely be helping out with that work. He provided that courtesy to Mark Ruffalo recently on the set of Avengers: Age of Ultron. It's kind of his duty as one of the company's co-founders.

So what is the "Imaginarium?" It's the company Serkis co-founded in 2011 to be the world's premiere performance-capture studio. Here's their mission statement and you can read more about them on their official site:

The Imaginarium harnesses the power of Performance Capture to fuel a new generation of storytelling in film, television and videogames. We bring life to characters in ways that their creators and their audiences alike could previously only dream of.

The studio is the brain-child of Andy Serkis and Jonathan Cavendish, who joined forces in 2009 to pursue their vision of combining an integrated Performance Capture facility with a cutting edge development and production studio.

The Imaginarium opened its doors in 2011 and has already provided Performance Capture services for major international films – most recently Rise of the Planet of the Apes and its sequel, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. We are also developing a wide range of our own film & television projects, games and other digital applications.

The Imaginarium's central London studio base acts as a magnet to the international film community as well as providing a development and production base for writers, filmmakers and creatives from all over the world.

So how to you interpret the Andy Serkis Star Wars quote?