Abu Dhabi: Andy Serkis revisits 'Gollum' days at MEFCC 2023

The British star talked about his fondest memory of 'The Lord of the Rings' character and how cinema is faring in the post-Covid world


Husain Rizvi

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Photo: Neeraj Murali
Photo: Neeraj Murali

Published: Sun 5 Mar 2023, 12:00 PM

Last updated: Sun 5 Mar 2023, 2:23 PM

British actor, director and producer Andy Serkis, known for his pioneering work in motion capture technology, is at the Middle East Film and Comic Con 2023, currently underway in Abu Dhabi.

The 58-year-old star has appeared in several films and television shows, and earned critical acclaim and multiple awards for performances in The Lord of the Rings, Rise of the Planet of the Apes and more.

Andy is a familiar face at film and comic conventions; as someone who has played one of the best creature characters in cinema, his presence at such events is inevitable. But what draws him to such gatherings?

"I love the passion that the fans bring to it," he tells City Times during a quick encounter at MEFCC 2023. "They're equally as important as the filmmakers. It is like a big family; these people who have for 20 years loved a particular franchise and have given themselves to it, you finally get to meet them. It is a two-way process; you make a film or a TV show, and then you meet the people who it is for."

Andy, who marked his presence at the event on its second day, said he was loving it. "It is a really good vibe," he says. "People are so buzzed and excited, it feels really great."

While Andy began starring in television and film productions in the late 80s and early 90s, it was his work in The Lord of the Rings (2001-2003) trilogy that brought him international recognition. He plays Gollum, a creature character brought to life using motion capture technology, and Andy garnered praise for its realism and emotional depth.

Over two decades later, Andy recalls the first time her experienced the use of motion capture, though in its early stages. And that's something Andy still holds dear about the character. "The first time seeing Gollum come to life... as I was moving, I could see him on a TV screen, I could see Gollum reflecting all of my movements. That was the real moment where I realised the power of this emerging technology and what it has gone on to, allowing me and lots of other actors to be able to do what we have done."

Andy tells us another instance that may actually top the one above: He possesses the ring from The Two Towers, given to him by director Peter Jackson on his birthday in 2003. So after all, Andy, we mean Gollum, has his 'precious.'

On the work front, Andy is busy "publicising" his latest project Luther: The Fallen Sun, a dark cyber-thriller that also stars Idris Elba.

In Luther, Andy had earlier said, he plays one of his darkest characters. "He's a cyber tech kind of whiz," he describes his character. "But the monster in this film is really the Internet, surveillance, hacking, and being able to get inside people's homes through their tech. And he uses that to manipulate and shame people. I really didn't want to play the part; I have played some dark characters but this I think is right on the edge."

Luther: The Fallen Sun had its cinematic release on February 24 in the UK, and is set to release on Netflix on March 10.

Talking about cinemas, we're finally making it out of the pandemic's clutch. Cinemas have reopened, almost at full capacity, with many films having cinematic success in terms of response and collections. Andy points out things are not "quite there" yet.

"Avatar: The Way of Water made a huge impact," he says. "Venom: Let There Be Carnage was one of the first films that timed it really well, just after the pandemic started to go away. So I think people are still getting used to the idea of going out. And I hope that will increase because the shared experience in the cinema is such a great thing. And, of course, the streaming platforms have done very well. The entertainment industry really functioned well during Covid, to be able to produce content for everybody. So I do think it's in a healthy state, but I just want to see more people back in the cinema."

Andy is also currently directing Animal Farm, an animated adaptation of George Orwell’s classic novel of the same name.

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