For his critically hailed performance as the talking ape leader Caesar in the 2014 summer blockbuster Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Andy Serkis, the premier practitioner of motion-capture acting, will be pushed by 20th Century Fox for an Oscar in the category of best supporting actor, not best actor, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.
There had been some speculation that Fox would campaign for Serkis in the lead actor category, despite it being as jam-packed as any this year, if only because Serkis’ part in Rise is top-billed and as prominent as any actor’s in the film. But instead the studio has formally resolved to promote its entire cast — including Toby Kebbell (Koba), Jason Clarke (Malcolm), Keri Russell (Ellie) and Gary Oldman (Dreyfus) — in the supporting categories, an approach that was previously employed on other ensemble-driven films such as Crash (2005), Syriana (2005) and Babel (2006), all of which landed acting noms.
Serkis is the most prominent and outspoken champion of motion-capture acting, which has divided many members of the motion picture community. He was also Gollum in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies, the titular character in the latest remake of King Kong and Capt. Haddock in The Adventures of Tintin.
Some actors fear mo-cap acting threatens their livelihood (why couldn’t one actor be hired to play many?), but Serkis has downplayed those fears. Moreover, he is said to feel that an Oscar nom for a mo-cap performance in any category might “move the needle” in favor of it (it has never happened before), so he left it up to the studio to make the category determination.
The 50-year-old British actor has precedent on his side: He was promoted in the supporting category for his work as Caesar in the last installment of the Apes franchise, Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011), and landed a Critics’ Choice nom in that category. (He has also received recognition for live-action work: a Golden Globe nomination for the 2006 TV film Longford and a BAFTA nomination for the 2010 film Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll.)
Serkis landed in Los Angeles this week and will hit the town in earnest this weekend, with appearances at the Academy’s Governors Awards, a SAG career talk and numerous Q&As.