Watch: Andy Serkis in 'Rise of the Planet of the Apes' Without VFX
With an Oscar campaign underway for Andy Serkis to get some much deserved credit for his motion capture performance as Caesar in Rise of the Planet of the Apes, the debate about how to approach this unique acting technique rages on. However, for those who have some difficutly seeing what Serkis has contributed to the film through all the visual effects that also assist in bringing the ape to life, we finally have a video without any visual effects applied that just might convince you how gifted an actor Serkis is and how integral his work is to making the character, and thus the film itself, come together. Watch below!
Here's a scene with Andy Serkis in Rise of the Planet of the Apes without visual effects (via HitFix):
And if that wasn't enough, James Franco, who shares the screen with Serkis in the film, recently wrote a piece about why the motion capture actor deserves to be honored. To begin with, Franco states flatly, "Andy Serkis is the undisputed master of the newest kind of acting called performance capture,' and it is time that Serkis gets credit for the innovative artist that he is." But the more important point he makes is that motion capture performances aren't much different than those done by actors with heavy amounts of prosthetic make-up which also help bring a character to life. Franco explains and elaborates how important it was for him to have Serkis acting opposite him on set, and also how the visual effects should not overshadow a truly great performance:
""For years computer technology forced actors to act opposite tennis balls if a movie wanted to have CG creatures, but now the process has come full circle so that actors playing CG creatures can perform in practical sets, just like the 'human' actors. In acting school I was taught to work off my co-stars, not to act but react and that was how I would achieve unexpected results, not by planning a performance, but by allowing it to arise from the dynamic between actors, and on The Rise of the Planet of the Apes that’s exactly what I was able to do opposite Andy as Caesar. And Andy got to do the same because every gesture, every facial expression, every sound he made was captured, his performance was captured.
Then, what the Weta effects team did was to essentially “paint” the look of Caesar over Andy’s performance. This is not animation as much as it’s digital make-up.' There are plenty of Oscar winning performances that depended on prosthetic make-up to help create the characters: John Hurt’s in The Elephant Man, Nicole Kidman’s in The Hours, Sean Penn’s in Milk. Those actors depended on make-up artists to augment the look of their characters, but the performance underneath came solely from the actors. Well, that’s exactly the same position that Andy is in, his problem is that the digital 'make-up' is so convincing that it makes people forget that he provides the soul of Caesar. That soul, the thing that was so compelling about that film, came from Andy, and the way he rendered that soul is of equal importance, if not more important than the photo realistic surface of the character.
It's quite a compelling piece of writing (you can read it in its entirety at Deadline), and should convince any naysayers that Andy Serkis is indeed worthy of at least an Oscar nomination. Between that and the video above that shows Serkis pouring his heart and soul into the performance like any actor would who isn't covered in technology and later visual effects, I will be absolutely flabbergasted and disappointed in the Academy if a nomination does not come to fruition. Just like the Oscar campaign has said, the time is now to honor an actor like Andy Serkis for his revolutionary and awe-inspiring work. What do you think?