Andy Serkis as Gollum in a scene from 'The Hobbit: An
Unexpected Journey'. REUTERS/Warner Bros/Handout
Andy Serkis reprises his role as Gollum in "The Hobbit:
An Unexpected Journey," to be released worldwide this week, but
his main role this time was as a second unit director, shooting
battle sequences in 3D for director Peter Jackson.
The British-born actor, 48, who rose to fame as the obsessive
Gollum in Jackson's "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy, spoke
with Reuters about playing the popular CGI character, and his
role behind the camera in New Zealand for "The Hobbit."
Q: Was it nice to get re-acquainted with Gollum after almost
A: "Yes, but he's never been that far away from me. Not a day
goes by where I'm not reminded of Gollum by some person in
the street who asks me to do his voice or wants to talk to me
about him. But because 'The Hobbit' has been talked about as
a project for many years, I knew that at some point I'd have
to reengage with him."
Q: Martin Freeman (Bilbo Baggins) is new to the franchise and
so are many other actors. As a veteran, did they come to you
A: "It sort of manifested itself more in a way where (as a
vet) you understand the scale and scope of what's required
stamina-wise. It's a different rhythm than most movies. For a
lot of the actors, you're 12,000 miles away from home. It
becomes a way of life - getting up at five in the morning,
shooting every day, day in day out, for 270 days. The new
cast playing the dwarves were carrying incredibly heavy
weights in their suits, they sat through hours of make-up
every day. So it's quite challenging from a stamina point of
Q: Playing Gollum was not your only job. You were also doing
second unit directing. What did that entail?
A: "Directing was my main job this time - more than playing
Gollum. I worked 200 days with a huge team shooting battle
sequences, aerials. It was an amazing experience and one
which I was very, very thankful to Peter for asking me to
Q: How did that come about?
A: "I'd already started directing short films when we were
doing 'Lord of the Rings,' then videogame projects. So
Peter's known that I've been heading towards directing for a
long time. But I always thought my first outing would be a
couple of people and a digital camera in the back streets of
Q: Why do you think Peter let you do it?
A: "I think because the second unit was going to have a lot
of principal cast, Peter wanted someone that could take care
of the performances and create an atmosphere where the actors
felt safe. Obviously I was briefed closely by Peter. But it
was a huge challenge - mental, technological. I'd never shot
with 3D. Plus the day to day logistics of dealing with such
an enormous operation."
Q: Any plans to direct again?
A: "Just before I headed off to New Zealand to work on 'The
Hobbit,' I was in the process of setting up (my new company)
The Imaginarium (with producer Jonathan Cavendish), which is
a performance-capture studio and a development company. We
are developing our own slate of film projects, one of which
is George Orwell's 'Animal Farm.' It's going to be the first
film that I'll be directing."
Q: Where does acting fit in to your newfound career?
A: "At the moment, my trajectory isn't to think about acting.
I'm absolutely devoted to The Imaginarium, our projects and
directing. And watching and enabling other actors do their
thing in our studio is hugely rewarding. I expect at some
point I'll probably want to go back on stage and do some
theater, because I've not done theater in 10 years."
Q: With two more installments of "The Hobbit" still to come
over the next few years, you'll be the voice of Gollum for
fans for many more years. Are your kids proud or embarrassed
when you're asked do his distinctive raspy voice?
A: "I'm probably running out of credits in terms of my kids
enjoying me do the Gollum voice for others. Especially my
older ones (Ruby, 14, Sonny, 12). It was cool when they were
younger. But my youngest (Louie, 8) absolutely revels in it.
He would have me do it all day long for his friends at
school. So I still have great currency there!"