Though he is now a beloved motion capture actor, Andy Serkis was actively mocked over his Lord of the Rings Gollum role when he was first performing.
Andy Serkis was originally the butt of jokes on set of The Lord of the Rings over his performance as Gollum. Starring as Gollum, a corrupted Stoor deformed by his possession of the One Ring, Serkis played Gollum by using motion capture technology. Living in squalor and addicted to the ring, Gollum spends the entirety of the Lord of the Rings trilogy desperately trying to get his hands on Frodo’s ring.
Yet, despite now being acclaimed for his performance as the body and voice of Gollum, Serkis was originally little more than the strange outcast of The Lord of the Rings. In an interview with GQ, he revealed that his fellow actors found his portrayal utterly ridiculous, especially because of the motion capture requirements. To make matters worse, the general public was mocking him as well. Check out his quote below:
“When Lord Of The Rings originally came out, there would be literally people who would say, ‘Who is that character? Is he a dancer? Is he a contortionist?’ Older actors were like, ‘You wouldn’t catch me dead doing motion capture. It’s the end of our profession.’ I literally heard someone saying that. There were lots of jokes about it; you know, Saturday Night Live things with people in suits with ping pong balls attached. It was ripe for ridiculing – and rightly so.”
How Gollum Changed Andy Serkis’ Career
While Serkis appeared in many roles before picking up the part of Gollum in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, it was Gollum that really propelled him into the public eye. Now a household name best known for bringing motion capture into general awareness, he has starred in countless movies and revolutionized Hollywood. He doesn’t always do it in motion capture either, though he rarely shies away from it.
Recently, Serkis was drawn back to Star Wars for Andor, where he appeared as Kino Loy after first playing Supreme Leader Snoke in Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Star Wars: The Last Jedi. He also starred in Rise of the Planet of the Apes as the intelligent ape Caesar, and in King Kong as the monster himself after the Lord of the Rings trilogy came to an end. In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, he left his mark as Ulysses Klaue, a hilarious villain who stole the show in Avengers: Age of Ultron and Black Panther.
Yet Serkis isn’t only willing to take up new roles. He has returned to The Lord of the Rings several times since the trilogy ended in order to reprise his role as Gollum in The Hobbit, even using Gollum’s voice to mock Russian President Vladimir Putin after the invasion of Ukraine. While he may have initially been mocked for his performance, Serkis has become a legendary figure in Hollywood after he revolutionized the industry with The Lord of the Rings.