war-for-the-planet-of-the-apes-behind-the-scenes

[Any awards thought?] Where do you see Mo-cap going in terms of Oscars? Do they need a new category?

Serkis: Absolutely not. But the matter is – we are actors playing roles and they happen to be in this instance apes but there’s no difference. In the scenes that we’re playing, if we were to block out the scenes as actors in costumes, it would be no different. The process is no different. The process of acting is no different. You’re embodying the character. You’re creating the psychology and the physicality. You’re living the moment.

Terry: It’s a different form of costume. That’s all it is.

Serkis: Of course there’s this whole grey area seemingly every time it’s talked about animators and who takes ultimate responsibility for the characters but without question and I’ll go down saying this year after year, these characters are authored by what we do on set. They are not authored by animators. Animators do amazing working translating and interpolating the characters, the facial performances. What we’re creating on set — if you don’t get it on the day, in the moment, on set, in front of the camera, with the director and the actors. The emotional content of the scene and the acting choices. If they are not there on the day, they will never be in the movie. So that is really important to understand. It is understood. There are now great A-list actors who are using performance capture because they realize there is… Mark Rylance on BFG… I just directed The Jungle Book with Cate Blanchet and Christian Bale…

Terry: I think we’re going to look back and in ten years, you’re going to go what were you thinking. What they need to do is a side by side. You see Andy’s performance without the translation of the ape and you go oh my god – if only the ape could be as good as him. If anything – I think the challenge is for the animator to capture the… to be able to translate all of the amazing things that are happening, and having had the privilege to work with Andy and be in scenes with him, I’m so blown away by his performance with this character. It’s mind-blowing. He should be nominated for an Oscar. I think he should’ve won last year.

Could your roles in the franchise extend beyond just playing Rocket and Caesar?

Serkis: Absolutely. There is always that potential in the same way — Roddy McDowall ended up playing Cornelius to Caesar. Two different characters. That’s the joy of the craft. Bring it on I say.

Could you discuss the addition of Steve Zahn and training him as an ape?

Serkis: It’s an interesting one because in a sense I’ve left that behind in the same way that Caesar has moved on from being an ape. When I first was offered the role on Rise, I always played Caesar as a human being within ape skin. Rather than something like King Kong where I really went after studying gorillas in the wild and captivity. I based him on a real chimpanzee and I worked with Terry on a lot of chimpanzee movement; but it was always with an underlying notion that because he was brought up with human beings and because of the drug he had pretty much grown up with his whole life, he felt like an outsider, he felt trapped in an ape’s body but he didn’t really feel like an ape and that was my way into the character. So he’s always had this duality playing him from an infant all the way to now as a fifty-five year old ape.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes Andy Serkis

As someone who mentors people in motion capture, does that influence how you play Caesar as a leader? Can you identify with him more?

Serkis: Certainly –  Caesar would make a reasonably good film director because he’s a collaborator and he listens to other people’s opinions and values good ideas. So yes — in that respect he is. I have learned from the character. There’s no question. You go do these things and think you’re defining the character but actually it’s the character that defines you in some respects. When you come out of the other end of a long process, working with a character [you realize] this character has really shaped my ideas.

Terry: it’s happened for me. I’ve learned more about myself through this character than through anything else that I have done. Rocket has taught me about myself. It’s about shedding all the BS and really looking at yourself for real and anytime something fake comes up it’s like blehh. It feels like vomit. So it’s good. You get it out of your system, all this crap comes out. And you’re like I’m not doing that again. Throw that out. You find out that was that guck that wasn’t real, that needed to come out. So it’s a really freeing process for me… As Rocket evolves, I feel like I’m evolving as a human being through this character. it’s profound but it’s true but it’s really amazing.

Andy Serkis Digital Make-up Comments

Is it strange that people don’t recognize you?

Serkis: No I like it that way. It’s funny – there are days when I can walk around and no one knows me from Adam. And then there are days where people do recognize me. it’s a weird thing with acting and it happens to a lot of actors, not just myself — it’s like you’re giving off an I really need to be loved today vibe. My worst moment recently is I fell asleep on the tube in London on the Victoria line 8:30 in the morning and I woke up and there were about five people with iPhones taking pictures.

Andy Serkis in Avengers: Age of Ultron

What is it like switching between live action and mo-cap? Is the approach different?

Serkis: No you don’t approach them differently. You don’t go – oh this is a motion capture role, I’m going to employ this method of acting. We don’t have anything to hide behind when we’re doing this. There’s no…

Terry: It comes from inside. Rather than putting a costume on and going now I have my shell and I’ve got my costume, the costume comes from the inside out. You’re basically naked in this outfit. You don’t go oh I have my fur on and my mask, you’re creating the character from the inside out.

Serkis: Stripping away. Where as you go into playing something like Ulysses [on Black Panther], you go – I’m going to have this haircut and this cloth, you draw from different stimulus.

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