Will Gollum win an Oscar?

Well, not exactly Gollum. But Andy Serkis, the guy who plays Gollum in The Two Towers, did a lot of acting to produce the part — including wearing a motion-capture suit, and even motion-capture dots on his face, so that Gollum’s creepy-ass hopeful smiles and grimaces are, in fact, Serkis’. There’s a great piece by my friend Justine Elias in today’s New York Daily News about how the magic works:

During principal photography, Serkis, dressed in a neutral-colored suit, was on location, acting alongside Frodo (Elijah Wood) and Sam (Sean Astin). “We shot two versions of every scene, one with me in, and one with me out, standing off-camera and saying my lines,” says Serkis. “If Peter [Jackson] liked what I’d done, he told the animators to use my movements and paint over, frame by frame, exactly what I’d done.” So when Gollum attacks Sam or pulls Frodo out of a swamp, the water or dust kicked up is the real thing.

An ancillary question is — can anybody get nominated for an Oscar for such a performance?

“I’d compare Andy’s work to John Hurt’s performance in ‘The Elephant Man,’” says Mark Ordesky, one of the “Ring” producers. “Hurt was barely recognizable under all that makeup, but he gives a brilliant performance. Our animators captured Andy’s every facial tic, every tiny gesture — the computer effects are almost like computer-generated makeup on his face.”

blog comments powered by Disqus

Search This Site


I'm Clive Thompson, the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better (Penguin Press). You can order the book now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, Indiebound, or through your local bookstore! I'm also a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. Email is here or ping me via the antiquated form of AOL IM (pomeranian99).

More of Me


Recent Comments

Collision Detection: A Blog by Clive Thompson