2012-12-12

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – Andy Serkis On Being Gollum…Again

by Yo Snyder

When The Fellowship of the Ring debuted back in 2001, we only
got short glimpses of the character Gollum. However, when he finally
showed up in all his (sort of) glory in 2002’s The Two Towers, he
quickly became one of the all-time great, iconic characters of film.
There was even a push to get Andy Serkis, who performed as Gollum via
motion capture, an Oscar nomination. The Academy wasn’t quite ready to
give digital creations that recognition at that time (and still aren’t,
but hopefully that will change soon), but it was nevertheless a
memorable performance of a unforgettable character. Since The Lord of
the Rings trilogy wrapped in 2003, Gollum has been parodied and
impersonated and generally just become a regular part of today’s
pop-culture consciousness. So, what would it be like to return to such a
character almost a decade later? Andy Serkis recently shared what it
was like to be Gollum one more time for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey:

“Well,
he’s 540 years in this version, not 600, so he’s much hotter, and he’ll
have a huge fan base among the teenage girls.” That comment got quite
the laugh from the gathered press, by the way. “What was great about
Gollum the first time around was obviously when we were working on Lord
of the Ring there was no modus operandi in terms of the performance
capture side of things. So that was an ongoing, sort of sidetrack
alongside the development of the character. With what we established on
Lord of the Rings, and actually sort of returning to the character
twelve years later, that wasn’t an issue because we were just able to
play our scene out and performance capture happened at the same time
rather than when Elijah and I were working together, we’d act the scenes
together but then I’d have to go and repeat the scenes afterwards on a
motion capture stage. But now, the technology is in the room, on set at
the same time so we played our scene out, it was the first thing to be
shot on the movie [the scene with Bilbo and Gollum], as an entire,
chamber theater piece which lasted about twelve minutes, and Pete really
wanted to do that so we could really investigate that scene and allow
Martin to experiment with the character.”

“The only weird thing
about getting back into Gollum was that he is, you know, we’ve all
discussed this, Ian and I have discussed this, coming back to play our
character. These characters have been absorbed into public consciousness
to such a high degree, there really was a sense of am I doing an
impersonation of a character I played twelve years ago? So that was the
only, sort of, weird thing was, you know, I feel like Gollum, I’m moving
like Gollum, I’m sounding like Gollum, but boy, I’ve heard so many
impersonations, you know, is it really my version? But very, very
quickly, obviously engaging with Martin and getting to play that scene
out was so thrilling and what helped Martin develop Bilbo.” 

Of
course, there was one other obvious question to ask about Serkis playing
Gollum, and I’m glad that it was asked; how many times a day do people
say my precious to you? “About 432. It’s some…yeah, an amount.”