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Biography #2 (for 13 Going on 30)

Andy Serkis who grew up in Ruslip Manor, England, is a prominent British actor best known to audiences worldwide for his indelible role as Gollum in Peter Jackson's blockbuster The Lord of the Rings trilogy. His more than 50 stage, television and film credits include distinguished performances on Masterpiece Theatre and Mystery! He has appeared in almost every renowned British theatrical house including the Royal Court, the Royal Exchange Manchester, the West Yorkshire Playhouse, Hull Truck, Dukes Lancaster, the Nuffield Studio and the Donmar Warehouse, among others. His credits includes performances in King Lear, Othello, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Macbeth, Faust, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead and a star-studded production of Hurly Burly with Kelly MacDonald, Elizabeth McGovern, Rupert Graves and Stephen Dillane. The actor has fashioned a television career as prolific as his stage work. In 1987, Serkis made his small-screen debut in two episodes of the Rik Mayall vehicle The New Statesman. He then signed on as Sparky Plugs in the BBC series Morris Minor's Marvelous Motors (1989), a comedy about eccentric mechanics that specialize in fixing a type of car that no one in town owns.

Throughout the 1990s Serkis acted in several major British miniseries. In 1994, he appeared in the murder-mystery Finney. In 1996, he played Sergeant Corrigan in a television adaptation of Agatha Christie's The Pale Horse. In 1999, he starred in the Mystery! production of Touching Evil as a grief counselor who tends to the husbands of women murdered by a brutal serial killer. In 2000, Masterpiece Theatre opened its 30th season with an adaptation of Oliver Twist, which featured Serkis as Charles Dickens' terrifying Bill Sykes. That same year, the actor joined the international cast of Hallmark Hall of Fame's Arabian Nights, which included Dougray Scott, Mili Avital, and Rufus Sewell. In between juggling theater and television work, Serkis made his feature-film debut in the thriller Grushko (1993). His big-screen performances include a part in Mike Leigh's Career Girls (1997), a memorable turn as a wacky choreographer in the director's Topsy Turvy (1999) and an English poet in Julian Temple's raucous Pandaemonium (2000).

Serkis' most demanding role, however, did not even require him to appear onscreen. Serkis supplied the voice and movement for the computer-animated creature Gollum in all three installments of The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Serkis worked closely with technicians from Weta Workshop and Digital to produce an empathetic and palpable representation of Tolkien's character. He performed in a suit covered in reflectors that were tracked by a computer-driven camera. Animation was then superimposed over his movement, producing one of the most realistic computer-generated images in modern cinema.

After completing The Lord of the Rings, Serkis returned to the London stage. In the summer of 2001, he starred with Sinead Cusack and Catherine McCormack in the U.K. production of Sam Shepard's A Lie of the Mind at the Donmar Warehouse. The play was one of the last productions overseen by the Donmar's former artistic director, Oscar winner Sam Mendes. This year Serkis made his directorial theatrical debut with the play The Double Bass at the Southwark Playhouse in London.

Serkis' other movie credits include Michael Winterbottom's 24 Hour Party People and the WWI film Deathwatch with Jamie Bell. He wrote and directed his first short film, Snake with Rupert Graves, and Serkis' longtime partner, actress Lorraine Ashbourne. Upcoming for Serkis is Simon Fellows' thriller Blessed with Heather Graham and James Purefoy.

Bio courtesy Columbia Pictures for "13 Going on 30" (06-Jun-2004)


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