The forthcoming Planet of the Apes prequel, Rise of the Apes, has already cast James Franco, Freida Pinto, and John Lithgow for its human roles, but saved casting the lead monkey for last. Variety is reporting that Andy Serkis, who not too long ago did a turn as King Kong for Peter Jackson, will play a super-intelligent ape who ultimately leads his simian brethren in a war against humankind. The only surprise in this is that Serkis wasn’t cast before everyone else. He’s become the go-to guy for unusual parts like this, and no wonder—who has better credentials than the man who played Golumn?
The LOTR series is certainly Serkis’s highest-profile gig to date, but he’s done other work that’s no less interesting and worthy, appearing in films for, among others, Mike Leigh (Career Girls, Topsy-Turvy) and Christopher Nolan (The Prestige). My favorite Serkis performance is in Michael Winterbottom’s 24 Hour Party People, where he plays Joy Division producer Martin Hannett. A strange and difficult individual by all counts, Hannett’s drug use caused him to more than double in size over the last decade of his life before dying, at age 42, weighing some 364 pounds. Serkis inhabits both the fat and skinny versions of Hannett at different parts of the film, and is all but unrecognizable in either. Some benevolent soul has aggregated his scenes in the clip below: