From Gollum To 'Inkheart,' Actor Enlivens Fantasies British actor Andy Serkis is best known for his iconic role as Gollum in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. In the new film, Inkheart, he plays another fantastical villain. He discusses fantasy, reality and why he thinks he should have been considered for an Oscar for Gollum.
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From Gollum To 'Inkheart,' Actor Enlivens Fantasies

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From Gollum To 'Inkheart,' Actor Enlivens Fantasies

From Gollum To 'Inkheart,' Actor Enlivens Fantasies

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One of the actors in "Inkheart" is someone you might have seen before, even if you can't place him. He's the man behind Gollum in "The Lord of the Rings" and he starred as the giant guerrilla in Peter Jackson's "King Kong." In Inkheart, he plays a human character named Capricorn.


He's the evil villain of "Inkheart." He's played by Andy Serkis, who joins us now from our studios in New York. Welcome to the program.

Mr. ANDY SERKIS: (Actor, "Inkheart") Thank you. Hi.

COHEN: This is a really fun film and your character, the bad guy, Capricorn, decides that he really likes living in reality, he likes being out of the world of the book. And I'm wondering how you approach that - I mean, most of us are used to living in reality, so how do you get in your mind that reality's a whole new gig?

Mr. SERKIS: I don't know, I think I spend most of my time not living in reality, actually.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. SERKIS: But Capricorn, to tell you about the character himself, he is '"Inkheart." He is the character with a heart as black as ink. And he is nothing in that world of the book. And so, when he gets to this world, he's absolutely paranoid about being sent back into it and does everything in his power to stop that from happening, which basically involves terrorizing an entire village.

BRAND: There's a great speech that you give where you talk about how much you love living in this modern world and all the great things about it, and one of the number one examples was duct tape.

Mr. SERKIS: Yeah. He's a man who enjoys what this world has to offer, in terms of adornment and material goods, and duct tape is just one of the very useful things that his henchmen manage to use rather a lot of the time to keep his opposers quiet, you know.

BRAND: I'd like to take a listen to a bit of your performance as Gollum in the second "Lord of the Rings" film, "The Two Towers." It was a very bipolar role, it was an amazing performance, not just physically, but also vocally for you. Let's take a listen to this clip.

(Soundbite of movie "The Lord of the Ring: The Two Towers")

Mr. ANDY SERKIS: (As Gollum) Master's my friend. You don't have any friends. Nobody likes you. I'm not listening. I'm not listening. You're a liar and a thief. No. Murderer.

BRAND: Andy Serkis, the Academy said you couldn't be nominated for that performance, even though there was a lot of Oscar buzz around it, because there was digital manipulation involved in your character. Do you think that that's fair, as we continue to see more and more technology in films? Do you think that those kind of standards are fair?

Mr. SERKIS: I mean, I personally think that actors' performances in films are enhanced in a million different ways, down to the choice of camera shot by the director, whether it's in slow motion or whether it's quick cut, or whether the choice of music behind the close-up or the costume that you're wearing or the make up - you know, actors' performances do not stand alone in any film, live action or whatever. And performance capture's no different. Yes, there is a certain amount of enhancement, but it doesn't alter the nature of the performance, and that's, I think, really what is of core importance to understand and what people are starting to understand.

BRAND: You're slated to play the role of British rocker Ian Dury in an upcoming film and Ian Dury isn't too widely known here in the U.S., but can you tell us a little bit about him and what about that role that you're looking forward to?

Mr. SERKIS: Yeah. I'm very excited about this. Ian Dury was the proto-punk in the 1970s when the music in the U.K. was very - just come out of the hippie movement. And due to the kind of political unrest and the rise of Thatcherism and the kind of disaffected youth in Britain at the time, there was a real kind of upsurge of grassroots bands coming through the British pub scenes. And Ian Dury is one of those stories and a great story.

He was a polio sufferer and had a withered left arm and left leg and classically, he was too old to be a rock star. He was, you know - but he had this brilliant energy and fantastic ability to write great lyrics. So, in a way he was prior to the punk movement and part of that generation. But he also had this - I mean, in our story and what's wonderful about our story is the love for his family, so this kind of schism between the passion for his music and the complete and utter desire to get out there and basically shake everything up, kind of completely collides with his family and his children.

And so, we've got this wonderful script together which portrays his life and it really - he really is an extraordinary man and he says, you know, be magnificent. Life's short, get out there. You can do it. Everyone can do it - everyone. It's a really positive film. It's not a normal rock biopic, actually, about sort of, you know, drugs and leaving the family and kind of, you know, doing your thing, and it's really life-affirming. He's such an incredibly life-affirming human being.

BRAND: Andy Serkis plays Capricorn in the film "Inkheart." He joined us from NPR's studio in New York. Thank you.

Mr. SERKIS: Thank you.

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