There’s no doubt about it.
Andy Serkis is a 21st Century actor — perhaps the first REAL 21st Century actor, as his performance this summer in the newest of the new generation of Planet of the Apes films will show.
Will “continue” to show, because Serkis has been appearing in — and yet NOT appearing in — movies for some time now.
He is probably most quickly recalled as the voice of Gollum, the evil hobbit-like creature, in the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy.
But he was more than just the voice, just as he is more than a voice in “Rise of the Planet of the Apes.”
Whether that turns out to be a successful film or not, Serkis’ part in it is another step in his success as an actor behind the scenes.
In this film, he will play Ceasar, the chimpanzee who gets modified and who modifies other apes and sets in motion the events that lead to the “Planet to the Apes.”
Those who remember the original story line from the films that were made in the late 1960s and 70s, will remember Ceasar as the beginning point of the whole nightmare world that ends up with apes and humans trading places.
The special effects back then involved elaborate make-up, which made news for those who cared about movie magic.
Serkis does it without benefit of prosthetics or fur suit.
It is done with the modern computer generation that was unheard of in the past.
Serkis acts out his part, as well as providing the voice, and his acting is as genuine as those actors who appear without benefit of computer assistance — just never “see” him in the finished film. You will see his chimp double.
This is his step into the 21st Century.
He has shown in his accomplishments as these creatures; that same creative spark that we saw from Lon Chaney, Boris Karloff, Lon Chaney Jr. and the other great “monster men” of the past.
We don’t know where this technology is heading, just as, when the Frankenstein Monster make-up was applied to Karloff in 1931, no one could have known that the technology would lead to Dustin Hoffman being able to portray 121-year-old Jack Crabb in the opening scenes of the 1970 film, “Little Big Man.”
When Chaney Sr., the “man of a thousand faces,” was creating his silent-film horrors, or when his son brought “The Wolfman” to life, they also influenced others in this story-telling industry.
We can only hope, as the technology continues to develop, that the story-telling that was so crucial from the silent film era on, will continue to be a positive part of our culture.
Movies have proven to be a blessing and a curse throughout their history.
Hopefully this amazing technology will be harnessed to bless us with movie experiences that we could only dream of a generation ago.
— Chuck Smith