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Even if you don’t recognize Andy Serkis’ face, you’ve probably seen his work.
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The 47-year old actor and director will be seen opposite James Franco in the upcoming Rise of the Planet of the Apes, due out Friday, Aug. 5th. Serkis serves as the human behind the CGI animated chimpanzee Caesar, who develops human-like intelligence and sparks a revolution among thousands of apes.
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Before checking out his new film this weekend, get to know Serkis in The Hollywood Reporter’s crash course below.
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1. No stranger to CGI projects, Serkis earned critical acclaim for his portrayal of Smeagol/Gollum in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Receiving significant recognition during award season, his performance sparked a debate over whether CGI-assisted acting could be worthy of an Academy Award. He’s previously embraced his inner ape as the title character in 2005’s King Kong, and worked with video game developers on 2007’s Heavenly Sword and 2010’s Enslaved.
2. Serkis attended Lancaster University in Lancashire, England, where he was a member of The County College. He studied visual art and became involved in a student radio station on campus, as well as stage design and set building for theatrical productions.
3. Born to an English mother and an Iraqi-born father with an Armenian background, Serkis’ name was shortened from “Serkisian.” He reportedly split a large amount of time between London and Baghdad in childhood.
4. Serkis got his start in touring theater productions throughout England in the ‘80s. He later made the switch to television in the ‘90’s, appearing on several British TV miniseries before landing the role of Gollum in The Lord of the Rings.
5. He can be seen in 2006’s The Prestige, opposite Jennifer Garner in 13 Going on 30 and as the lead role in the 2010 Ian Dury biography, Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll.
Serkis is set to reprise his role of Gollum in Peter Jackson’s upcoming The Hobbit, for which he will also serve as a second unit director. Other projects on the horizon include The Adventures of Tintin and The Spider.
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