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Burke & Hare - Andy Serkis interview

Burke & Hare

Interview by Rob Carnevale

ANDY Serkis talks about the importance of making his depiction of murderer William Hare amoral rather than immoral in John Landis’ new dark comedy,
Burke & Hare, as well as working with Ronnie Corbett.

He also discusses why he still has pinch me moments when working with some of the biggest names in movie history and why he recently travelled to Forks.

Q. What did you like about the challenge of taking on Burke & Hare as the evil Laurel & Hardy?
Andy Serkis: It was fantastic, I mean I was so excited when I was asked to do it. It was the chance to work with Simon [Pegg] and the chance to work with John [Landis, director], so it was a dream project really. It also had a really great script… dark subject matter but a really interesting, funny take on it.

Q. I guess another challenge was making your character appear amoral rather than immoral?
Andy Serkis: Well, that’s it. It’s very easy to look on these guys as kind of evil villains. And actually, you can’t really approach that… you can’t approach it playing your character from that perspective otherwise you right them off at the beginning. It’s very clever because the devils have been given the best tunes in this and it’s just such a great way of making the audience question everything. So, yeah, William Hare is just a man who thinks on his feet really. He doesn’t consider that what he’s doing is… I mean, he doesn’t get any pleasure out of it. For both of them, it’s not about getting any sort of pleasure out of it – they don’t really like doing what they have to do. But making ends meet is of prime importance because they want to get through the day and they want to survive.

Q. Simon has said that John took him to the diner where Heat was shot to talk to him about Burke & Hare. Did he wine and dine you somewhere similarly glamorous?
Andy Serkis: We had breakfast in The Wolsey with about a week to go. I sort of said: “Well, is this guy a rounded character?” So, he did… he breakfasted me [laughs].

Q. Simon similarly said that he still gets excited about getting to visit locations that have been used in movies, like the Heat diner and the When Harry Met Sally deli. Is that the same for you?
Andy Serkis: Oh yeah, absolutely, we’re fans as well. I took my daughter to Forks when we were in Vancouver, working on Rise of the Apes. It was the real Forks. We had a picture taken outside the high school and they loved it.

Q. What did you like about working with Simon?
Andy Serkis: Well, we kept each other alive basically [laughs]. But we clicked very quickly and sort of fell into it from the beginning. We’d kind of exchanged glances across each other on Tintin but hadn’t really had the time to hang out. But as Simon has said, you can see on screen that these two characters have a real love for each other…

Q. I’d imagine there were some really special days on the set, like getting to act alongside Christopher Lee? You didn’t really sit on him, though, did you?
Andy Serkis: Definitely and he basically improvised that entire scene. He was only supposed to have said a couple of words before he dies off but he just went off on this whole historical repertoire about Napoleon. It was amazing. But yeah, the whole shoot was amazing and there was a grave danger of us never ever filming the shoot because of John’s fantastic facility to tell stories.

Q. And how as working with Ronny Corbett?
Andy Serkis: Great, he’s just legendary, he really is fantastic. He’s so funny and yet so unassuming as well. He is so funny without doing a thing… obviously he’s really aware of that but he’s just really pleasant. He said: “You know, I’m breaking into movies… [at my age!]”

Q. You’ve just completed Rise of the Apes and worked with Steven Spielberg on Tintin. The Hobbit is rumoured… do you still get pinch me moments when you get calls from people like that?
Andy Serkis: Of course, but you never lose that because these are the guys we’ve grown up with. I mean last night I was watching Raiders of the Lost Ark with my boys and I was like: “I’ve worked with Steven!”

Read our interview with Simon Pegg