The face may not be familiar, but actor Andy Serkis has starred in some of this century's biggest films. In the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, Serkis starred as Gollum, the schizophrenic creature who covets his "precious" ring, in a performance derived using motion capture technology that helped translate the actor's expressions and movements to computer animation.
But motion capture, Serkis says, should not be considered merely a particular genre of acting.
"It used to annoy me that people would say, ''The voice of Gollum by Andy Serkis,'" he told CBS News' Anthony Mason. "And it was like, 'Well, that's not true.' When an actor's playing a role using performance capture, they are authoring the role."
Through performance capture technology Andy Serkis acted the role of Gollum in the "Lord of the Rings" films and in "The Hobbit."
A view of Andy Serkis, right, with a rough model of Gollum.
"I remember the first day of putting on a motion capture suit, and seeing a very rudimentary, grey-shaded version of Gollum," Serkis recalled. "You know, when I was lifting up my right hand Gollum was lifting up his right hand. And it was just like a magic mirror. I was sort of looking at it and thinking, 'Wow.'
"And literally after a few days of doing that, I remember going into the restroom and looking in the mirror and Gollum was there! It really was very bizarre."
Gollum as he appears in the finished film, with actor Elijah Wood as Frodo Baggins in "The Lord of the Rings."
Serkis was hired originally just to provide the voice for an animated Gollum, but his physical performance on set was so convincing that director Peter Jackson went off script, and explored a means to capture the actor's physical expression as well.
Skeris said he found the guttural voice for Gollum in his kitchen: "I actually watched one of my cats, Diz, cough up a fur ball on our kitchen floor, and that was a really significant moment," he said. "Because, you know, when a cat coughs up fur balls he goes hack hack hack from the top of the head to the tip of the tail, this kind of movement happens, which I began to use. And that was how the sound began to emanate."
In the prologue of "The Return of the King," Andy Serkis plays the hobbit Smeagol who finds the One Ring. Its powers seduce the hobbit and lead him to commit murder, becoming an outcast who hides within the tunnels of the Misty Mountains, where he evolves into the ancient creature Gollum.
Serkis grew up in Ealing, in West London, raised by his mother, a teacher, while his father, a doctor, worked in Baghdad. He started acting in college and built a steady career in films like "Sex, Drugs and Rock 'n' Roll," playing rocker Ian Drury, and "13 Going on 30," playing Jennifer Garner's boss. But "Lord of the Rings" changed everything.
Though Serkis expected to return to "regular" acting, "Rings" director Peter Jackson came back to him with his remake of "King Kong."
Serkis performing as Kong in the remake of "King Kong."
Andy Serkis' performance as Kong in the final film, with computer effects by Weta Digital.
Serkis on the set of "King Kong" with Naomi Watts.
"Andy's too good to just let back into the boring old world of live acting," Peter Jackson said.
A scene from "King Kong."
Kong with Ann Darrow (Naomi Watts) in "King Kong."
In addition to his motion capture performance as Kong, Serkis also appeared on-screen as Lumpy, the ship's cook, who meets a rather grisly end on Skull Island.
Andy Serkis appeared in the horror film "Deathwatch" (2002), in which troops discovered a supernatural evil in the trenches of a World War I battlefield.
Andy Serkis played the boss of Jennifer Garner in the comedy "13 Going on 30" (2004).
Andy Serkis played an assistant to electrical inventor Nikola Tesla, who is questioned by a magician played by Hugh Jackman in Christopher Nolan's "The Prestige" (2006).
Andy Serkis received a Golden Globe nomination for his performance as the husband of a convicted murderess in the British TV drama "Longford," directed by Tom Hooper ("Les Miserables"). Serkis is seen opposite Jim Broadbent.
Andy Serkis played Albert Einstein in the BBC drama "Einstein and Eddington" (2008).
Andy Serkis starred with Claire Foy in the 2008 miniseries "Little Dorrit," a BBC adaptation of the Charles Dickens novel.
Andy Serkis using performance capture to create the computer-generated character of Caesar in "Rise of the Planet of the Apes."
This montage shows how Serkis' performance was captured and translated to wireframe computer models of the character. Fur was also applied, and final lighting was rendered to produce the finished character.
A defiant Caesar stands up to the cruel caretaker of the primate shelter, and utters his first word, in "Rise of the Planet of the Apes."
In order to break through a prejudice against motion capture performance as a mere tool of special effects artists, the studio promoted a campaign to have Serkis nominated for an Academy Award as Best Supporting Actor for his performance as Ceasar. Fans chipped in with the Twitter hashtag #oscarforandy.
Though Serkis was not nominated, it was a breakthrough in advancing the cause of an actor's craft, for a film in which the actor himself is never actually seen.
Reece Shearsmith and Andy Serkis play two brothers who kidnap Jennifer Ellison, daughter of a gangster, in the dark comedy "The Cottage" (2008).
John Landis ("An American Werewolf in London") directed "Burke & Hare" (2010), a comic horror film starring Andy Serkis as one-half of the notorious body snatchers
In "Sex & Drugs & Rock 'n' Roll" (2010), Serkis starred as Ian Drury, a polio victim who grew to become an influential punk rocker in '70s Britain. Serkis was nominated for a BAFTA award for Best Actor.
Actor Andy Serkis attends the "Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll" after-party during the 2010 Tribeca Film Festival at Breslin Bar and Dining Room on April 24, 2010 in New York City.
Back to the motion capture stage! Serkis starred as Captain Haddock opposite Jamie Bell in Steven Spielberg's computer-animated "The Adventures of Tintin" (2011).
Actor Andy Serkis, his wife, actress Lorraine Ashbourne, and children Sonny, Ruby and Louis attend BAFTA Los Angeles' 18th annual Awards Season Tea Party held at Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills on January 14, 2012 in Beverly Hills, California.
Actors Andy Serkis and Meryl Streep attend BAFTA Los Angeles' 18th annual Awards Season Tea Party held at Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills on January 14, 2012 in Beverly Hills, California.
Andy Serkis returned to the role of Gollum for Peter Jackson's adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Hobbit." Serkis is seen having a makeup artist apply registration dots to his face for the first day of shooting in New Zealand.
Andy Serkis performing as Gollum in "The Hobbit."
Gollum as seen in the finished film.
In "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey," Gollum confronts Bilbo Baggins in the depths of the Misty Mountains.
In addition to performing in "The Hobbit," Serkis also served as a second-unit director.
From left: Martin Freeman, Elijah Wood, Andy Serkis, Sir Peter Jackson, Sir Ian McKellen, and Richard Armitage attend the New York premiere of "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" benefiting the American Film Institute, at the Ziegfeld Theater on December 6, 2012 in New York City.
Andy Serkis attends "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey"'s New York City premiere at the Ziegfeld Theater, December 6, 2012.
Actor Andy Serkis poses for a portrait during the 60th Berlin International Film Festival at the Berlinale Palast, February 12, 2010.