Acclaimed actor Andy Serkis made his directorial debut with 'Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle' which debuted on Netflix on December 7.
Serkis is best known for his performance capture work, having spearheaded the technology. He also founded The Imaginarium Production in 2011.
We had the opportunity to chat to Serkis on the day of Mowgli’s release on Netflix where he spoke about filming and his journey with performance capture.
Serkis admits that while he started in the theatre he loves where his career has gone.
Speaking on why he enjoys performance capture Serkis says: “I love that you can play anything and it offers limitless possibilities.”
Serkis’s acting filmography consists of a number of iconic roles including Gollum in 'The Lord of the Rings' saga and Supreme Leader Snoke in the 'Star Wars' franchise.
His favourite roles were Gollum and Ceaser in the 'Planet of the Apes' modern-day trilogy.
Talking about Gollum, Serkis says that the character has a special place in his heart since it was where he started his performance capture career. He was also captivated by the complexity of the role and found it as a discovery process for performance capture technology.
'Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle' is an adaptation of 'All the Mowgli Stories'.
Serkis was approached with the script which he found endearing as it focuses on Mowgli and his story unlike the Disney animated classic film The Jungle Book which is more about the animals surrounding him. Serkis says “Mowgli is a darker re-imagining compared to The Jungle Book”.
Serkis also stars as Baloo, one of Mowgli’s many animal mentor and friends. Originally he was only slated to direct the film; however, the producers and cast director couldn’t find the right fit for the character. They eventually realised the role is perfect for Serkis.
Mowgli features a star-studded cast consisting of Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Benedict Cumberbatch and Naomie Harris. The film was also shot in South Africa for all the outdoor scenes.
During the discussion on whether or not Serkis should have been eligible for acting awards for his performance as Caesar in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, many cited the fact that performance capture roles have to go through a special effects team and shouldn’t be in allowed in acting categories.
Serkis feels there is no difference. And that with motion captures the actor’s performance and is the same whether it is live action or performance capture.
Although Serkis is most known for his performance capture, he is also a great on-screen actor having started in theatre and more recently starred in 'Avengers: Age of Ultron' and 'Black Panther' as Ulysses Klaue, for which he should’ve received a special award for finally getting the white South African Afrikaans accent right.
Serkis couldn’t stop gushing about his time in South Africa shooting the film, saying that the crew and sets available on Mzansi soil are phenomenal.
* 'Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle' is streaming on Netflix.