Andy Serkis Taught Me to Always Keep an Open Mind

  • Abbie Harris

When presented with a new character for the first time, I immediately ask myself where am I going to find inspiration? I need to find a voice, a physicality, an understanding of their motivation and behaviours, etc. There’s a lot to consider.

It’s during these times that I remember that Andy Serkis used his cat as his inspiration for the voice of Gollum. This story taught me to be open-minded about where I gain inspiration. There’s no need to religiously study the performances of BAFTA winning actors and attempt to copy and paste what they do. There’s a lot to be said for people watching. Or if you’re Mr. Serkis, pet watching.

I should try to stop stressing over this and pay closer attention to my life away from the stage, and trust that something or someone in my real world will spark an idea for me. Real people inspire real, believable characters. I have recently found a summer job in a local pub and already I have met some, shall we say, interesting people. No doubt the encounters I have will inspire many characters in the future. I strongly recommend making as many memories as possible, with family, friends, colleagues, etc., and writing the best ones down to revisit later. I have a notebook in my room that’s gradually filling up with stories I intend to use as inspiration for writing and performances.

Furthermore, And Serkis was reluctant to audition for the role of Gollum at first, since he didn’t see himself as a voice actor. But after Peter Jackson saw his incredible version of the character, he incorporated motion capture technology into The Lord of the Rings because the performance Serkis gave in not just his voice, but his face and body as well, was just too good to be contained in a recording booth. Then after the success of this character, Serkis was asked to play King Kong.

With these stories in mind, I have been taught to keep an open mind when looking for inspiration, and when I don’t know where an avenue in the industry could take me. Never say never… and maybe get a cat.


Relevant links:

How Andy Serkis' Cat Gave Him the Voice for Gollum | BAFTA Insights. (2018). [video] Available at: [Accessed 23 Jul. 2019].