Andy Serkis Talks Avengers: Age Of Ultron And Hulk Motion Capture


Andy Serkis is currently impressing audiences around the world with his motion-capture performance of Caesar in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and will be spreading his talents across multiple tentpole franchises in 2015. He has a role in Star Wars: Episode VII (and his company, The Imaginarium, is handling all of the film’s motion-capture), and will also aid Mark Ruffalo in fine-tuning his Hulk mo-cap performance in Avengers: Age Of Ultron.

In a recent interview with The Daily Beast, Serkis talked in length about Apes, his upcoming films Animal Farm and The Jungle Book, the future of mo-cap technology, and educating Mark Ruffalo and Joss Whedon about fully-embracing a mo-cap performance for the Hulk in the Avengers sequel.

Here’s what he had to say:

“The difference for Mark this time around is that the Imaginarium, which is our performance-capture studio in London that’s providing all the performance capture for the Avengers movie, is providing education.

Previously, he would’ve walked onto a set and you’ve got Thor and all the other characters in their costumes looking magnificent, and then you’d have Mark in a grey motion-capture suit playing this enormous character, so it’s about giving the actor the right atmosphere and credibility for the performance, which we did in a number of ways. We had to educate the director that the actor owns the role, and what you get on the set is what you should be aiming to put into your cut as the final performance—with the rendering coming later on.

Also, we worked with Mark in really grounding him and playing with the digital avatar before going on set so he could see himself as the Hulk before going onscreen, and we put weights and inhibitors on him to give him the sense that his arms were these big, giant wrecking balls, and so that his biceps wouldn’t intersect with his body. We equipped him. We also gave him a sound system and pitch-modulated his voice so you could hear the enormous Hulk roar coming out of these speakers, so the crew would go, “Jesus! That’s Hulk on set!” It gives Mark the sense of feeling better, and if he feels better, then he’ll be more comfortable in the performance.”

Many people still assume that the majority of a mo-cap performance is created after the film has finished shooting. That’s not to say that the VFX artists don’t play a crucial role in the full realization of a character like Caesar or the Hulk, but it’s worth remembering that an actor’s performance is a huge, important part of the process. I’m really interested to see what Ruffalo does with Serkis’ teachings for Age of Ultron, and am positive that he’ll be even better on screen this time around.

Apart from doing the consulting work, Serkis has a role in Age of Ultron as well. We don’t know what it is yet, and Serkis is likely sworn to secrecy, but that didn’t stop The Daily Beast from trying to get it out of him. Many have wondered if Serkis would in fact be playing Thanos, the Mad Titan and major super-villain of the Marvel cinematic universe. When asked about it directly, Serkis said:

Um…I’d have to deny that character at this point. But I am playing a character. I was really thrilled that Joss Whedon asked me to be involved. It’s fantastic. I’ve had a ball working with them, both as performance capture consultant through the Imaginarium, but also being asked to be in it. But I can’t say anything more!

With Josh Brolin providing the voice for Thanos, it seemed unlikely that Serkis would be playing him. But, at least now we know for sure.

Tell us, what do you think of Serkis’ comments, and who do you think he’ll be playing in Avengers: Age of UltronLet us know in the comments below!