Andy Serkis says his performance as Snoke in Star Wars: The Last Jedi involved motion capture and no use of prosthetics. Serkis, of course, is a pioneer in motion capture acting, which began with his acclaimed performance as Gollum in director Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy more than 15 years ago. Since then, Serkis has continued to perfect his craft, reuniting with Jackson to do the mo-cap performance of the titular character in King Kong, as well as bringing Caesar to life in Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and most recently, War for the Planet of the Apes.
In between his Apes gigs, however, Serkis joined the Star Wars universe with a small but pivotal performance as Supreme Leader Snoke in The Force Awakens. The eighth chapter of the Skywalker saga promises to feature a lot more of the shadowy figure, and new artwork revealed by artist Jared Jones this week features a “really accurate” drawing of Snoke, whose detailed look for The Last Jedi has yet to be officially revealed to the public.
Screen Rant caught up with Serkis at San Diego Comic-Con, and in an exclusive interview, the venerable actor shared some details about what went into the creation of Snoke’s performance.
SCREEN RANT: I’ll ask one last question, not to be spoilerly at all, just out of curiosity, without getting too much into it, this time around did you do any prosthetics or was it all CG with Snoke?
ANDY SERKIS: I really can’t…
SR: Did you get to do any practical acting?
SERKIS: Practical acting? What does that mean?
SR: Well, I mean without mo-cap
SERKIS: Without mo-cap … Well, um, it’s created using performance capture technology. But I mean, practical acting to me sounds like …
SR: I didn’t mean it like that…
SERKIS: Yeah, yeah, yeah, no, it’s like, you’re acting, but like, no, there was no prosthetics.
Serkis, like his Last Jedi castmates, is no doubt sworn to secrecy about the film, so it shouldn’t come as a big surprise that he answered his questions with a bit of hesitancy. Still, he was at the very least able to confirm what most probably suspected (that motion-capture technology was involved), which seems to be a given with most of Serkis’ performances.
In the case of Snoke in The Force Awakens, it was difficult to exactly tell what sort of method was used because the character appeared as an otherworldly figure in holographic form, so it would be reasonable to conclude that it was either a mo-cap or CGI creation. But since Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) was retrieved by General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson) to be brought to Snoke “to complete his training,” at the conclusion of the film, in all likelihood fans will get to see the Supreme Leader in the flesh, so to speak, in The Last Jedi. Serkis’ revelation takes the guesswork out of how the character was created.
No matter how Serkis achieves his performances, there’s no question that his acting is becoming more and more impressive with each film he does. Just under the surface of what digital artists create for Serkis’ characters are performances filled with incredible amount of emotion, and Snoke promises to display yet another dimension of his talents in The Last Jedi that fans haven’t seen before.
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