Andy Serkis Thinks The Future Of Mo-Cap Means Playing Photo-Real Figures From History

Director, actor, and certified mo-cap expert Andy Serkis is hot off directing "Venom: Let There Be Carnage" and he has some hot takes that he wants to share. And by hot takes I mean strange and also vaguely unsettling predictions about the future of facial capture. Serkis, who is perhaps best known for his portrayal of Gollum in all of the "Lord of the Rings" movies and Caesar in the new "Planet of the Apes" trilogy, has an interesting perspective on these kinds of things. He's watched the technology change and evolve from an actor and director's perspective, which makes his points feel salient, even if they also feel a little bit like science fiction at the same time.

In an interview with Games Radar about "Venom" and CGI, Serkis went all-in about how much the technology has changed since he started playing Gollum way back in 2001:

In terms of performance, capture, the method of facial capture is evolving all the time and the detail, the nuances in the end, the actual root performance that you get out of an actor, and the translation of that into the final thing is getting closer and closer. One would see that through, for instance, the "[Planet of the] Apes" movies. And even going back and doing "The Hobbit" after many years, Gollum in "The Hobbit" was on another level in terms of facial capture. 

Could you imagine the kind of crazy stunts Serkis could be pulling as Gollum if Peter Jackson fully lost his mind and decided to remake "Lord of the Rings?" I'm sure it would all add up to be 20-plus hour nightmare that required you to bring a lunch and extra water to every screening, but that 4K Gollum goodness would be something else.

The Future According to Andy

Not content to stay in the past, Serkis also waxed poetic about the future of movie magic, saying:

"People have criticized me before for saying it's like digital makeup, but it is becoming that. I think you will be able to play someone from history from photogrammetry and have a real Abraham Lincoln's face that you're playing rather than a sculpted one."

It's this line that has my brain fully spiraling, thinking of all of the buck wild movies we could make with technology that could make that look good. But, forget about having a photorealistic Abraham Lincoln, what if a director of the future remade "Lincoln," but used the tech to make an actor look just like Daniel-Day Lewis in "Lincoln?" Could long passed actors be brought back to life with this stuff? Could sequels that never should exist be made with the right CGI? Will we one day have to contend with "The Irishman 2: More Irish More Man" where an unnamed actor plays Robert De Niro playing a younger version of Robert De Niro? It's a horrifying though, a fascinating idea, and one that will certainly make me have nightmares tonight. This is Andy's uncanny valley and we're just living in it.