- Andrew Clement Serkis
April 20, 1964 (age 58)
- Actor, Voice Actor, Author, Film Director
- Lorraine Ashbourne
- Clement Serkis, Lylie Serkis
Andrew Clement "Andy" Serkis (born 20 April 1964) is an English film actor, director and author. He is known for his performance capture roles comprising motion capture acting, animation and voice work for such computer-generated characters as: Gollum in The Lord of the Rings film trilogy (2001–2003) and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012), King Kong in the eponymous 2005 film, Caesar in Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014) and Captain Haddock in Steven Spielberg's The Adventures of Tintin (2011). Serkis' film work in motion capture has been critically acclaimed, and he has been called the "godfather of motion capture." Serkis has received an Empire Award, a National Board of Review Award, two Saturn Awards and a Screen Actors Guild Award for his motion capture work.
Serkis also earned a Golden Globe Award nomination for his portrayal of serial killer Ian Brady in the British television film Longford (2006); and he was nominated for a BAFTA Award for his portrayal of new wave and punk rock musician Ian Dury in the biopic Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll (2010). In 2014, he was confirmed as a part of the main cast of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, as well as having a supporting role in Avengers: Age of Ultron, both of which will be released in 2015. Serkis has his own motion capture workshop, The Imaginarium Studios in London, and is set to use the technology with his directing debut, Jungle Book: Origins, in 2017.
Serkis, one of five children, was born and brought up in Ruislip Manor in West London. His mother, Lylie (née Weech), was English and taught disabled children. His father, Clement Serkis, was an Iraqi gynaecologist of Armenian ethnicity. His ancestors' original surname was Sarkisian. His father often worked away in the Middle East, while he was brought up in Britain, with regular holidays in the Middle East including to Tyre, Sidon, Damascus and Baghdad.
Serkis was educated at St Benedict's School, Ealing, and then studied visual arts at Lancaster University. He chose theatre as a secondary subject so that he could design posters. Serkis was a member of the County College, and part of the student radio station Bailrigg FM. He joined the Nuffield Studio, getting involved in designing and producing plays.
Having agreed to act in a couple of productions, towards the end of his first year Serkis played the lead role in Barrie Keeffe's play Gotcha, as a rebellious teenager holding a teacher hostage. As a result, he changed his major subject to acting, constructing his Independent Studies Degree around acting and set design, studying Stanislavski and Brecht, and including minor modules in art and visual graphics. In his final year at Lancaster he adapted Raymond Briggs's graphic novel The Tin-Pot Foreign General and the Old Iron Woman, a satire about the Falklands War, as a one-man show which he performed to acclaim.
In his third year at college, Serkis joined the backstage team at the local Duke's Playhouse to earn his Equity card. On graduation, although advised to take a one-year post-graduate acting course, he joined Dukes as an actor and, under director Jonathan Petherbridge who used workshops based upon the methods of Augusto Boal, spent 18 months acting in a broad range of productions from Brecht through Shakespeare to modern British playwrights.
After 16 months, and having gained his Equity card, Serkis joined a series of touring companies, including productions of: Bouncers opposite Hull Truck; Florizel in The Winter's Tale; and the fool in King Lear with director Max Stafford-Clark. In the early 1990s he settled in London, and took roles in Dogboy, the Royal Court Theatre's production of Mojo, Bill Sikes in a television film of Oliver Twist (1999) and Wilson Milam's production of Hurlyburly (1997) at the Queen's Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue, with Rupert Graves and David Tennant.
Like many British actors, Serkis made the move to television by appearing in small roles, such as Greville in an episode of The Darling Buds of May (1992). However, one of his first major starring roles was in the joint BBC/HBO production of Einstein and Eddington (2008). Serkis played Albert Einstein, following the development of his theory of relativity, while David Tennant played British scientist Sir Arthur Eddington. Serkis joined director Mike Leigh's ensemble for two film productions, and appeared in the romantic comedy Loop (1999) alongside Susannah York.
Serkis' more critically acclaimed roles have been Sméagol/Gollum, in The Lord of the Rings film trilogy (2001–03), the title character in the 2005 version of King Kong, in which he provided both the voice and movements for the CGI character as well as the ship's cook, 1970s new wave singer Ian Dury in Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll (2010), and Caesar in Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014).
His work on The Lord of the Rings started a debate on the legitimacy of CGI-assisted acting. Some critics felt Serkis should have been nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, since his voice, body language, and facial expressions were used. There is the argument that his CGI actions were partially, or in some cases fully, animated without his movements, but the same is true for actors in a traditional film with CGI. Serkis does appear briefly as Sméagol before he transforms into Gollum, and the CGI Gollum's facial characteristics are fundamentally based on Serkis' own.
Serkis married actress Lorraine Ashbourne in July 2002. He lives in Crouch End, North London with his wife and their three children: Ruby (b. 1998), Sonny (b. 2000) and Louis (b. 2004). Serkis was born to Catholic parents, and though he has been an atheist since his teenage years, he is drawn to the karmic possibilities of energy transference, specifically "the idea that your energy lives on after you".
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