Follow Us on Twitter

King Kong - Andy Serkis interview

Andy Serkis in King Kong

Interview by Rob Carnevale

Q. Can you talk us through how you went about preparing for the role of King Kong and the help you provided Naomi Watts in working with the CGI?
A. I felt quite strongly about rooting Kong’s personality in real gorilla behaviour. So I spent quite a while working in London Zoo with four gorillas there and then I went to Rwanda and observed gorillas in the wild. Two things really stuck out to me.
One was how individual they all were – I think because we’re 97% genetically similar there isn’t that great a void between us. There’s generic gorilla behaviour, which I spent a long time trying to build up, and then there was the personality and the characterisation.
We all have and had our different opinions which went into this melting pot and eventually we came up with who Kong is.

Q. So what was the biggest challenge?
A. I suppose the biggest challenge for the whole job was how much we anthropomorphised Kong and how much we kept him as a real gorilla. Once Naomi and I had played the scenes out and had emotionally crafted the journey of their relationship, when I got the chance to go onto the motion capture stage with Philippa and Fran it was great having the writing process continue, because then we could play with how human he was and how gorilla he was.
So every single scene we’d play across the spectrum in a number of different ways, and then Pete would choose what he felt was dramatically appropriate. I think that’s how it worked.
Peter Jackson: It was an interesting combination, because we set about wanting to make him a gorilla as opposed to a monster. Godzilla is a monster, Kong is not. Kong is a gorilla and the gorilla’s characteristics and their behaviour is actually very interesting and it leads to a lot of ideas that you can incorporate in the scenes.
But obviously we are also filmmakers and we have to achieve certain results, and so there’s no doubt that there are little bits of cheating that you do here and there to make a moment work in a scene because the scene requites that moment to work. If it’s not something that a gorilla would naturally do we certainly tried to make it look as close as possible to something you could believe in.

Q. Apparently, during your research, you made an emotional connection with a gorilla named Zaire? Is that true and could you elaborate?
A. [Laughs] It’s heartbreaking, it’s tragic. I actually went back to see Zaire about six days ago. We did form quite a strong relationship, it’s no joke. I spent about two and a half months there. She chose me, really, she picked me out. And was very affectionate towards me and doey-eyed. Every day I’d arrive, she’d bound up and we played games with each other and started texting….
Then when I brought my wife one day she came bounding up and she had got this big bottle of mineral tea which was angled inwards and she turned it round and went [claps hands] like that and squirted all the water over Lorraine. It was like, ‘hang on a minute, I’ve walked in on something here’. She read the signs and fled.
Anyway, I went back to see her about a week and a half ago. She came up and totally recognised me, but she was like ‘where the fuck have you been? Why the fuck haven’t you written?’.