Despite rarely appearing as himself on the screen, Andy Serkis has become a prolific actor in Hollywood in some of the most successful franchises.
Serkis appeared in Star Wars: The Last Jedi as Supreme Leader Snoke in another captivating motion-capture performance. The actor revealed his approach to the looming leader of the First Order, offering insight into his process as a performer.
"I’ve always approached [Snoke] as someone who is obviously in a position of supreme power, but actually, there is a level of vulnerability about the character," Serkis said to EW. "The way that his face is caved in, he has those deep scarifications. His skull’s almost been crushed."
Snoke masks the destruction of his physical form with glamour and cruelty, clad in an ornate robe and forcing his subordinates to compete for his favor.
"He knows that as a leader you run the risk of people rebelling, you run the risk of people turning against you, the people that are closest to you," Serkis said. "Even in that position of power, there is a level of fear. When you’re operating from a level of fear, you operate dangerously as a leader.
"As we know across the world, there are leaders who have famously done that — and do. That’s what I really wanted to bring to the character. There’s this incredible danger and volatility."
Serkis also spoke about the misconceptions many people have about motion-capture acting, and how it relates to any other kind of performance.
"I think a lot of people think that you have to almost pantomime the performance or heighten it in some way," Serkis said. "What’s illustrated is, in fact, the opposite. And it would be the same if you were playing Caesar or Gollum for that matter, or any character. You don’t exaggerate facial expressions. You’re not pushing through any false artifact."
He compared the difference to the actors who wore prosthetics in the original Planet of the Apes films.
"They had layers of prosthetic makeup on their face that they had to fight through," Serkis said. "I can remember seeing a documentary that Kim Hunter [Zira in the original film] was explaining how she literally had to keep her face moving at all times just to create some sense of life in the character."0comments
You can see an example of Serkis' prowess in the video clip above.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi premieres on Digital HD on March 13th, followed the Blu-ray and DVD release on March 27th.