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Gollum Actor Andy Serkis to Serve as Second Unit Director on 'The Hobbit' (Exclusive)

“There is really a sense of Peter [Jackson] wanting people around him who totally understand the material and the work ethic,” he tells The Hollywood Reporter.

Andy Serkis
Samir Hussein/Getty Images
Andy Serkis

Andy Serkis, who played the iconic Gollum in Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings, is taking on a new role in The Hobbit 1 and 2. In addition to reprising his role as the tragic creature, Serkis also has been tapped by Jackson to serve as second unit director on the two films, which are now in production in New Zealand.

“I think I understand Peter’s sensibility and we have a common history of understanding Middle Earth,” Serkis told The Hollywood Reporter. “A lot of the crew from The Lord of the Rings was returning to work on The Hobbit. There is really  a sense of Peter wanting people around him who totally understand the material and the work ethic."

Serkis has already done some directing, including performance capture on a couple video games including Heavenly Sword. But, he said, “When Peter asked me. There was this email out of the blue. It was a fantastic surprise.”

When he completes The Hobbit movies, Serkis aims to direct his first live-action feature.  In addition, he and producer Jonathan Cavendish (Bridget Jones’ Diary) plan to launch a perform capture studio and training center, dubbed The Imaginarium, which will produce its own material as well as service other projects.

As for his return to Middle Earth, details are being kept under wraps, but Serkis told THR that his directing responsibilities would go beyond performance capture. “It is wide ranging and encompasses a lot of directing aspects of filmmaking and story. Yes, there is some performance capture, but I will be very much on the live action sets and locations helping Peter to tell the story."

“The learning curve is The Hobbit is being shot in 3D,” he added, noting that the 3D would be used “dramatically, to give a point of view.”

“In the same way Lord of the Rings was an interpretation of the book, The Hobbit is being treated the same way,” Serkis said. “It will be faithfully represented with a fresh interpretation.”

The busy actor just completed shooting his performance in the film. “He is very much a Gollum that people will recognize,” Serkis offered, noting that the character would be seen in his “truest form.”

The actor also has performances in two additional anticipated movies are on the way, both of which are performance capture. He will play Caesar in the Planet of the Apes prequel Rise of the Apes, slated for an Aug. 4 debut; and Captain Haddock in the December release The Adventures of TinTin: The Secret of the Unicorn.

“When we created Gollum the first time, performance capture was it its infancy,” he said, noting that today, “within the industry, there is more appreciation for it as an acting art form. It’s all about character, learning what the character thinks, feels, how he carries pain.”

Serkis said it’s “thrilling” to reprise the role of Gollum. “I was looking forward to doing it. He never really left me.”