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J.J Abrams was ‘blown away’ by Andy Serkis

Last week, the director of Star Wars Episode VII spoke out on why he chose mo-cap king, Andy Serkis to play a part in the upcoming Star Wars trilogy. It’s safe to say J.J Abrams was more than impressed by Serkis’ previous work by announcing he was “blown away” by his performance in Dawn of The Planet of the Apes.

Before casting even began, the 48 year old director was handed early footage from the upcoming installment in the Apes franchise – which has just been released worldwide. The director of the film, Matt Reeves, was the one who decided to show Abrams the footage, and here is what he had to say on Abrams’ reaction to the material:

“I showed him a bit of the movie. I wanted to get some feedback. And I know that he had known and really loved Andy Serkis.”

“And the thing that struck me, and actually got me so excited, was the mystery behind how great he is, is that he’s great. That he’s an amazing actor. And the scenes that I showed (Abrams) were of Andy just in mo-cap. And he was like, ‘Oh my God, he’s an incredible actor.’  He was so blown away.”

He explained: “They had known each other a bit before, anyway, but I think when he saw it, it was like a real revelation.”

“He said to me, ‘That looks – I’m not kidding when I tell you I think that’s one of the best performances I’ve ever seen.’ I said, ‘I know, isn’t he amazing?’ He’s so good.”

Reeves also said that viewing the footage was a “revelation” for Abrams who soon went on to cast Serkis in Star Wars. Why though, is it now that Serkis is coming to the spotlight?

Andy Serkis in Christopher Nolan’s The Prestige.

Possibly over the years in the roles he’s played without motion capture, like The Prestige, and Wild Bill, that the roles were not meaty enough and that he was just in a supporting role so he went largely unnoticed.

Another reason is that some films he appeared in did not get the critical success of a big blockbuster, so with that, Serkis’ performances were overshadowed by bigger and louder performers.

Serkis also probably knew by taking the mo-cap route that it would take longer to get noticed for his performances as you do not see his face on screen. It’s a just shame at the time that his performances in King Kong and Lord of the Rings were only recognized as the creatures he was playing.

Anyway, Serkis is becoming one of the most respected actors in Hollywood now, as directors, producers, and audiences recognize that his deep, physical, and towering performances are something you do not come across too often.

I know fans of Serkis cannot wait for his appearance in Star Wars, and neither can he: speaking last month about that chance to appear in the galactic space adventure – “It’s extraordinary. I grew up with Star Wars and was a massive fan of the original films. I never imagined in a million years that I’d be engaging with this. It’s just come about so organically.”

“J.J. Abrams and I met, and we just had this incredible kind of vibe between us. He said, ‘you’d fit really well in this universe,’ and I said, ‘I think I probably could.’ We’re working very closely, as I say, in two ways: The Imaginarium is providing all of the performance characters, and I myself am playing a character in it.”

“I’m thrilled, deeply excited. Sitting at that read-through that other day was just extraordinary. It was an amazing event; being with the original cast was just incredible. I just think the script is so wonderful, and both the old and the newbies in the cast are just so thrilled and excited to get together.”

If you can’t hold on until 2015 for Andy Serkis in Star Wars, why not head out to your local cinema to watch him play the most awesome ape in history, Caesar, in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.

Check out the trailer below: