Andy Serkis is an actor, director and author, best known as Gollum in the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy. He has portrayed other notable CGI characters, such as King Kong in "King Kong," Caesar in the "Planet of the Apes" franchise, Captain Haddock in Steven Spielberg's "The Adventures of Tintin," and "Supreme Leader Snoke in Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens."
Serkis is also a noted director, having led projects such as "Mowgli," created through the The Imaginarium, which he co-founded with producer Jonathan Cavendish, and "Venom 2," following the Tom Hardy-led "Venom."
For the first ten years of his life Andy Serkis used to go backwards and forwards between Baghdad and London. His mother was busy working as a special education teacher of handicapped children, so Andy and his four siblings were raised with au pairs in the house. Young Andy Serkis wanted to be an artist; he was fond of painting and drawing, and visualized himself working behind the scenes in productions.
Serkis studied visual arts at Lancaster University in the north-west of England. There he became involved in mechanical aspects of the theatre and did stage design and set building for theatrical productions. Then Serkis was asked to play a role in a student production, and made his stage debut in Barrie Keefe's play 'Gotcha'; thereafter he switched from stage design to acting, which was a real calling that transformed his life.
Instead of going to an acting college, in 1985 Serkis began his professional acting career at the Duke's Playhouse in Lancaster, where he was given an Equity card and performed in fourteen plays one after another, as an apprentice of Jonathan Petherbridge.
After that he worked in touring theatre companies, doing it for no money, fueled by a sense of enthusiasm, moving to a new town every week. He has thus appeared in a host of popular plays and on almost every renowned British stage. In 1989 he appeared in a stage production of Shakespeare's 'Macbeth', so beginning his long association with the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester, where he would return many times to appear in 'She Stoops to Conquer', 'Your Home in the West' and the 'True Nature of Love' among other plays.
In the 1990s Serkis began to make his mark on the London stage, appearing at the Royal Court Theatre as the Fool in 'King Lear', making his interpretation of the Fool as the woman that Lear, a widower, could relate to - a man, in drag, as a Victorian musician. He also appeared as Potts in the hit play 'Mojo', playing in front of full houses and earning huge critical success. In 1987, Serkis made his debut on television, and he acted in several major British TV miniseries throughout the 1990s.
In 1999, Andy Serkis landed the prize role of Gollum in Peter Jackson's epic film trilogy based on J.R.R. Tolkien's saga 'The Lord of the Rings'. He spent four years on the part and received awards and nominations for his performance as Gollum, a computer generated character in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) which won 11 Oscars.
Serkis also used this art form in his performance as Kong in King Kong (2005), which won him a Toronto Film Critics Association Award (2005) for his unprecedented work helping to realize the main character in King Kong, and a Visual Effects Society Award (2006) for Outstanding Animated Character in a Live Action Motion Picture.
Apart from his line of CGI-driven characters, Serkis continued with traditional acting in several leading and supporting roles, such as his appearances as black-market arms dealer Ulysses Klaue in the hit film "Black Panther," as Richard Kneeland opposite Jennifer Garner in "13 Going on 30," and Alley opposite David Bowie in "The Prestige," among other film performances. On television he starred as Vincent Van Gogh in the sixth episode of "Simon Schama's Power of Art,"the BBC2 series about artists.
He played Capricorn in the adventure film "Inkheart" and also starred as King Bothan in the martial arts drama "Heavenly Sword," a Playstation 3 title, for which he provided a basis for his in-game face and also acts as a dramatic director on the project.
Serkis married actress and singer Lorraine Ashbourne, and the couple have three children: daughter Ruby, and two sons Sonny and Louis George. Away from acting, Serkis is an accomplished amateur painter. Since his school years at Lancaster, being so close to the Lake District, Serkis developed his other passion in life: mountaineering.
Serkis has been active in charitable causes, such as The Hope Foundation which provides essential life-saving medical aid for children suffering from Leukaemia and children from countries devastated by war.
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