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Andy Serkis Says Motion Capture Should Give Disabled Actors ‘Great Opportunities’

The filmmaker and actor spoke about issues raised by motion capture technology during the IBC Show in Amsterdam.

Andy Serkis'Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle' film premeire, Los Angeles, USA - 28 Nov 2018

Andy Serkis

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Andy Serkis helped pioneer the art of motion capture with his performances in “The Lord of the Rings,” “King Kong,” and “The Planet of the Apes,” and during an appearance at the recent IBC Show in Amsterdam (via ScreenDaily) he spoke at length about the technology’s good and bad sides. One potentially controversial idea Serkis put forth is that “performance capture is the end of typecasting.” The filmmaker and actor said that, because of motion capture technology, “there should be great opportunities for disabled actors to play able-bodied characters,” but he stopped short from fully endorsing other examples.

“[With performance capture], it would be possible for an actor of color to play Abraham Lincoln and for me, as a middle-class white man, to play Martin Luther King,” Serkis said. “The question is whether that is ethically right. Diversity is hugely important so I can understand sensitivities about this.”

Another hot button issue that concerns performance capture is the resurrection of dead actors onscreen. Serkis said “serious issues” are raised by the ability to “create photorealistic characters, to digitally de-age actors, or digitally resurrect performances from actors who have passed.” Peter Cushing’s digital role in the 2016 tentpole “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” sparked a debate about the ethical issues of putting dead performer back on screen. Cushing died in 1994, well over two decades before he appeared in “Rogue One.”

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Serkis also championed financial rights for digital performers. “If an actor’s performance from one movie is re-used in another, there should be remuneration for that actor, no question,” he said. ”It is their performance and they should be paid for it.”

After becoming the world’s most beloved motion capture actor, Serkis has since moved into the director’s chair by helming films such as “Breathe” and “Mowgli.” Next up for the filmmaker is “Venom 2,” the Tom Hardy comic book tentpole from Sony Pictures. Serkis is also still attached to direct a motion capture “Animal Farm” for Netflix. “‘Animal Farm’ is well on its way,” Serkis said. ”We’re just about to go into lengthy pre-production for character design, planning how they move physically and nailing the set design concepts. The good news is that we finally have a great script.”

Serkis is expected to kick off “Venom 2” production before the end of the year.

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