Andy Serkis portrait

Biography

Andy Serkis was born and brought up in Ruislip, West London.  He grew up wanting to be a painter/graphic artist and eventually studied visual arts at Lancaster University.  Being so close to the Lake District, it just so happened that it also enabled him to follow his other passion in life, mountaineering!

Whilst at university, he became heavily involved in the theatre studies department, which had a broad-based approach including design, lighting, staging, as well as history and acting theory.  After performing in a production of Barrie Keefe’s play Gotcha, Andy decided that he wanted to become an actor.

In 1985 he began working at the Dukes playhouse, Lancaster, where he started to learn his craft.  Under the direction of Jonathan Petherbridge, he performed in fourteen plays on the trot, playing a wide variety of characters in plays including Volpone, The Good Person of Szechwan, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

After that, Andy joined a number of touring companies, including Paines Plough and Hull Truck (Bouncers), then joined David Freeman’s company at the Lyric, Hammersmith, working on Freeeman’s epic production of Faust.  In 1989 Andy began his long association with the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester, in Braham Murray’s production of Macbeth.  He would return many times to appear in plays such as She Stoops to Conquer, Your Home in the West, and Unidentified Human Remains and the True Nature of Love.  He played the emcee in Cabaret at the Sheffield Crucible, Macheath in The Threepenny Opera for the Bubble Theatre, Jerry (the Jack Lemmon role) in the musical version of Some Like It Hot at the West Yorkshire Playhouse.  He was awarded the Manchester Evening News Best Actor award for his performance in Steven Berkoff’s two hander, Decadence.

In the 1990s Andy began to make his mark on the London Stage, particularly at the Royal Court Theatre, receiving critical success for his roles as Dogboy in Hush , The fool in Max Stafford Clark’s production of King Lear, and as Potts in the original production of Jez Butterwoth’s hit play Mojo.

At the same time his career in film and television began to gain momentum. On television, his first breakthrough role was Tom in the hit geordie gangster series Finney.  Over the following years he played a wide range of roles in many TV dramas, including Grushko, The Jump, The Arabian Nights, Touching Evil, Shooting the Past, and was highly acclaimed for his performance as Bill Sykes in Alan Bleasedale’s adaptation of the Dickens classic, Oliver Twist.

On film, Andy began to make a name for himself in movies like Mike Leigh’s Career Girls, the screen adaptation of Mojo, Among Giants and Stella Does Tricks.

He returned to the stage in 1997 to play Phil in the British premiere of David Rabe’s hit play Hurlyburly for Peter Hall's company at The Old Vic. It was a great success and transferred to the West End (Queen's Theatre).

Over the next few years Andy concentrated on film work, spending the best part of one year creating the character of John D'Auban, Gilbert and Sullivan's choreographer in Mike Leigh's Topsy Turvy.  Other roles included Jacobin revolutionary John Thelwall, in Julien Temple's film Pandaemonium , and as Mel, Michael Caine’s minder in Shiner directed by John Irvine.

John D'Auban in <i><a href='topsy-turvy-movie.htm'>Topsy Turvy</a></i>

John D'Auban in Topsy Turvy
 

In 1999, Andy was offered the prize role of Gollum in Peter Jackson’s epic film trilogy version of J.R.R. Tolkien's saga The Lord of the Rings -- Although the principal photography for all three films took place over 18 months, Andy spent much of 2002 and 2003 in post-production due to the complex technical nature of bringing Gollum to the screen. The role has been one of the most psychologically complex, physically demanding and technically challenging roles to date.

Gollum in <em><a href='lord-of-the-rings-movie.htm'>Lord of the Rings</a></em>

Gollum in Lord of the Rings
 

In between trips to New Zealand, Andy played Factory Records producer Martin Hannett in Michael Winterbottom’s Madchester film 24 Hour Party People, and Private Quinn in Michael Bassett’s debut feature, World War I horror film Deathwatch.

As Martin Hannett in<em><br /><a href='24-hour-party-people-movie.htm'>24 Hour Party People</a></em>

As Martin Hannett in
24 Hour Party People

 

He has also returned to the stage twice -- as Jake in Sam Shepard’s play A Lie of the Mind directed by Wilson Milam at the Donmar warehouse, and most recently to play Iago in Braham Murray's production of Othello at the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester.

Andy as Iago in <i><a href='othello-play.htm'>Othello</a></i>, 2002

Andy as Iago in Othello, 2002
 

Andy received accolades from around the world for his performance in the title role in Peter Jackson's King Kong, released in December 2005.  Recent films include Stormbreaker, The Prestige, Flushed Away, Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll and Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

Andy has also played important roles in acclaimed made-for-television movies including Little Dorrit, Einstein and Eddington, and Longford.

Upcoming films include Tintin for Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson, and The Hobbit.

Andy has always continued to paint, and is pursuing his goal to work on the other side of the camera -- in September 2001 he wrote and directed his debut short film Snake.  He directed a successful run of The Double Bass on stage in London.  He is currently involved in developing several feature film projects with his co-producer Paul Viragh.  He was Second Unit Director on The Hobbit.  He is also slated to direct feature films including Animal Farm, based on the novel by George Orwell.

Andy lives in North London with his wife, actress Lorraine Ashbourne and their three children Ruby, Sonny and Louis.

Video Clips

Andy Serkis with Gollum

Andy Serkis with Gollum
 

The Hobbit

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