BAFTA to Honor Andy Serkis

By Ed Meza

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) is presenting Andy Serkis with its Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema Award at the 73rd EE British Academy Film Awards ceremony on Feb. 2 in London.

The organization said Thursday that it was honoring the British actor, producer and director for his pioneering work on performance capture and for widening “the parameters of what it means to be an actor in the 21st century.”

Serkis’ accomplishments in the field include the creation of such characters as Gollum in “The Lord of the Rings” and “Hobbit” series, Caesar in “The Planet of the Apes” trilogy, the titular gorilla in 2005’s “King Kong” and as Supreme Leader Snoke in the recent “Star Wars” films.

“As a leading actor in performance capture, Andy Serkis has been integral to the development of this remarkable digital technology, which allows filmmakers to bring to life amazing characters that would otherwise have been almost impossible to accurately recreate onscreen,” a BAFTA statement said.

Marc Samuelson, chair of BAFTA’s Film Committee, added: “Andy’s work on and off screen has been nothing short of revolutionary, inspiring audiences and his peers alike. His pioneering influence as a performer, an educator, a leading innovator and an employer has helped shape the global film industry and the positive impact will be felt for years to come.”

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Serkis, on his part, said he was ” deeply honored and thrilled to receive this award,” adding that he considered himself “extremely lucky to be on such a continually fascinating journey in visual storytelling, one that has given me the opportunity to collaborate with many of the world’s greatest artists, technologists and craftspeople, with whom I’d like to share this wonderful accolade.”

In 2011, Serkis partnered with film producer Jonathan Cavendish in founding The Imaginarium, a London-based production company and digital studio dedicated to performance capture.

Serkis made his directorial debut in 2017 with “Breathe” and followed with “Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle,” based on “The Jungle Book.” He is currently directing “Venom 2,” starring Tom Hardy, and is next set to play Alfred Pennyworth in Matt Reeves’ “The Batman” alongside Robert Pattinson.