As Andy Serkis prepares to say goodbye forever to Gollum, he remains absolutely convinced that his unique portrayal of JRR Tolkien’s most unique character is just like any other acting and that there should be no separate awards category for him, saying, “It’s not special, it’s just acting.”
Andy, who has played Gollum throughout Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit films, tells HuffPostUK that he created his character – as well as that of Ceasar in ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’ - in a completely normal way for actors:
“Where the grey area is about authorship of the role. Not to diminish the extraordinary work of visual effects supervisors, but they are awarded for that work in visual effects categories. Their skill is in transforming and honouring the actor's role on set.
“But all the emotional content, the choices, the psychology of the role, they are not conjured up in a computer or with animators or visual effects artists. Gollum's face will live with just my face on screen, the drama, the reactions, that's all created before visual effects are laid, and it's tested to see how people respond to that cut, long before any visual effects occur. That's why I'm so clear.”
Certainly no one else gets the special Gollum treatment Andy receives from fans of the series. How many times do people address him with ‘My precious’, I wonder? “It varies. Between twice and 10 times a day, every day,” he chuckles.
He’s a great fan himself of the films which conclude with ‘The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies’ out this year, and is quick to point out that, despite the location of a timeless Middle Earth, the stories remain as contemporary as ever.
“That's what these movies are, not just flights of fantasy, they are reflective of the world,” he explains. “This latest one's all about greed and corruption, it couldn't be more pertinent, and that's why they endure. The writers understand the zeitgeist.
“And Gollum was part of that. The ring for him was something that was controlling him to a huge degree, like a huge strong addiction that he couldn't shake off, that had a physical effect as well as psychological.”
Andy famously got his sound for Gollum from hearing the noise a cat makes while it’s coughing up a fur ball, but he’s gone even further into poor Gollum’s fractured psyche…
“ That was because of what it does to a cat's body, from the top of its head to the tip of its tail. And it’s all in the throat, where Gollum carries his guilt, in his throat, for killing his cousin…” he pauses… “I do like him. He’s so flawed.”
It’s clearly a relationship between actor and role that will stay with Andy Serkis for a long time, and he tells me about the first time he met his avatar, the visual representation of what he would so memorably create…
“That was an extraordinary moment,” he recalls. “I remember thinking, 'I love this. This is the end of typecasting. Now you can play anything.'”
'The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies' is at UK cinemas from 12 December. Premiere pictures below...