09 January 2012

Franco Pushes for Oscar Nod for Serkis

Joining the growing list of supporters in the “Oscar for Andy Serkis” campaign is his Rise of the Planet of the Apes costar, James Franco.

In an article for the Deadline website, Franco wrote:

"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.”

"This is not animation as much as it's digital 'makeup'. There are plenty of Oscar-winning performances that depended on prosthetic makeup 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 makeup artists to augment the look of their characters, but the performance underneath came solely from the actors.”

But the Academy does not currently recognise motion-capture performances as being worthy of an Oscar; not even so much as a nod. With CGI still being a relatively new film-making technique, many audiences do not fully understand the kind of work that is involved in bringing a character like Gollum or King Kong to life on the big screen.

"I am a bit evangelical, I know, but performance-capture is still misunderstood," Serkis told the Daily Telepgraph last year. "Ten years down the line, people say, 'Oh, so you did the voice of Gollum?' Or people go, 'You did the movements for [King] Kong?' It's frustrating, because I play Gollum and I play Kong. It is acting."

“The emotional content of these performances live and die by what the actors bring to the roles on set. I never approach a live-action role any differently to a performance-captured role. The process of acting,” he notes, “is absolutely identical.”

Franco acknowledges that “the digital 'makeup' is so convincing that it makes people forget that [Andy] provides the soul of Caesar. That soul, the thing that was so compelling about [Rise of the Planet of the Apes], 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.”

“I think part of what we have to do is help educate people to understand that [Caesar] is 100 percent [Serkis'] performance,” said Tom Rothman, co-chairman and CEO of 20th Century Fox Film Entertainment. The studio is pushing for a Best Supporting Actor nod for Serkis’ role in Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

“It is great emotional acting. Tom Hanks didn’t have to say any dialogue in ‘Castaway’ for it to be a great performance… The emotionality – what you see and what you feel – [Serkis] did it. I saw him. I watched him. Then they digitally overlaid – you can think of it as a costume – the skin and the hair of an ape. But I tell you the thing that people felt – and a lot of people were moved when they saw the movie – is because of his performance.”

"What is needed is recognition for him, now,” urges Franco. “Not later when this kind of acting is de rigueur, but now, when he has elevated this fresh mode of acting into an art form."

We here at the Middle-earth Network believe that Andy Serkis is more than deserving of an Oscar for his role as Caesar the ape. Want to show your support? Follow @OscarforAndy on Twitter and support them on Facebook!

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