Andy Serkis always wanted a future in entertainment. Growing up in Ruslip Manor, England, he visualized himself working behind the scenes in production. Today, he is an impressive British character actor with over 50 stage, television, and film credits, distinguished performances on both Masterpiece Theatre and Mystery!, and a highly coveted role in Peter Jackson's three-part adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
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Serkis began his acting career in theater. He has appeared on almost every renowned British stage -- the Royal Court, the Royal Exchange Manchester, the West Yorkshire Playhouse, Hull Truck, Dukes Lancaster, the Nuffield Studio, and Donmar Warehouse -- and in a host of popular plays. His resumé includes performances in King Lear, Othello, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Macbeth, Faust, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, and a star-studded production of Hurly Burly with Kelly MacDonald, Elizabeth McGovern, Rupert Graves, and Stephen Dillane.
The actor has fashioned a television career as prolific as his stage work. In 1987, Serkis made his small-screen debut in two episodes of the Rik Mayall vehicle The New Statesman. He then signed on as Sparky Plugs in the BBC series Morris Minor's Marvelous Motors (1989), a comedy about eccentric mechanics that specialize in fixing a type of car that no one in town owns. The next decade saw Serkis acting in several of Britain's heralded miniseries. In 1994, he appeared in the murder-mystery Finney. In 1996, he played Sergeant Corrigan in a television adaptation of Agatha Christie's The Pale Horse. In 1999, he starred in the Mystery! production Touching Evil as a grief counselor who tends to the husbands of women murdered by a brutal serial killer. In 2000, Masterpiece Theatre opened its 30th season with an adaptation of Oliver Twist that featured Serkis as Charles Dickens' terrifying loose cannon, Bill Sykes. That same year, the actor joined the international cast of Hallmark Hall of Fame's Arabian Nights, which included Dougray Scott, Mili Avital, and Rufus Sewell.
In between juggling theater and television work, Serkis made his feature-film debut in the thriller Grushko (1993). His big-screen performances include a part in Mike Leigh's Career Girls (1997), a memorable turn as a wacky choreographer in the director's Topsy Turvy (1999), and the portrayal of 18th century English poet John Thelwall in Julian Temple's raucous Pandaemonium (2000). Serkis' most demanding role, however, did not require him to appear onscreen. Serkis supplied the voice and movement for the computer-animated creature Gollum in all three installments of Peter Jackson's trilogy The Lord of the Rings -- The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), The Two Towers (2002), and The Return of the King (2003). The slithery Gollum, once a naïve hobbit, is driven mad by the force of the ring and displays emotions that range from childlike to menacing. Though Gollum only lurks in the background in the first film, he is of major importance to the rest of the trilogy. Serkis worked closely with technicians from Weta Workshop and Digital to produce an empathetic and palpable representation of Tolkien's character. He performed in a suit covered in reflectors that were tracked by a computer-driven camera. Animation was then superimposed over his movement, producing one of the most realistic computer-generated images in modern cinema.
After completing The Lord of the Rings, Serkis quickly returned to the London stage. In the summer of 2001, he starred with Sinead Cusack and Catherine McCormack in the U.K. production of Sam Shepard's A Lie of the Mind at the Donmar Warehouse. The play was one of the last productions overseen by the Donmar's former artistic director, Oscar winner Sam Mendes. The actor also began filming a WWI film with Billy Elliot's Jamie Bell, and wrote and directed his first short film, Snake. Besides starring his Hurly Burly co-star, Rupert Graves, Snake features Serkis' longtime partner, actress Lorraine Ashbourne. The couple has two children, Sonny and Ruby.
In 2005 he served as the human model for Peter Jackson's King Kong. The next year he appeared in The Prestige, and the year after that he played a convicted murderer in Longford. He had a major starring role in Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll playing legendary British rock star Ian Dury. In 2011 he was the model for Captain Haddock in Steven Spielberg's motion capture version of The Adventures of Tintin, and that same year he earned rave reviews for being the model for Caesar, the creature at the center of Rise of the Planet of the Apes. He returned to the roll of Gollum for Peter Jackson's two Hobbit films in 2012 and 2013.
~ Aubry Anne D'Arminio, Rovi