Andy Serkis mocks Russian President Vladimir Putin by channeling his Lord of the Rings character Gollum. The famous voice artist is known for his motion-capture performances in a variety of blockbusters, with his big break coming as Sméagol, a Stoorish Hobbit whose possession of the Ring for five centuries slowly poisons his mind and turns him into the wretched creature known as Gollum in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. After making a brief appearance in the Fellowship of the Rings prologue, Gollum reappeared in The Two Towers and Return of the King to accompany Frodo and Sam on their journey to Mordor.
Another of Serkis’ most lauded motion capture performances was as Caesar, a highly intelligent chimp who leads a tribe of upgraded apes, in the new Planet of the Apes trilogy. Matt Reeves directed the final two films of the trilogy, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014) and War for the Planet of the Apes (2017). Serkis has reteamed with director Christopher Nolan for The Batman, in which he plays Alfred Pennyworth, Bruce Wayne’s (Robert Pattinson) faithful butler. Serkis can’t help but reminisce about his glory days as Gollum as he makes the rounds for the highly anticipated film.
Serkis brought Gollum back to life again while appearing on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert (the host is a huge Lord of the Rings fan). Serkis mocked Putin by envisioning if Putin had the same internal monologue as Gollum and Sméagol when considering the pros and drawbacks of invading Ukraine. Read what Serkis had to say below, or listen to the 3:30 mark of Serkis’ piece on The Late Show.
Several countries have implemented tough economic penalties against Russia for its unjustified act of aggression after Putin’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24. The rising boycott of Russia has also attracted Hollywood’s attention. As Colbert points out during Serkis’ visit, one of the economic restrictions imposed on the country is that they will not be able to view The Batman in theatres “The fact that Russia will not be able to see this film is one of the penalties imposed on them. Very strong.”
Warner Bros. suspended the distribution of The Batman in Russia earlier this week. In addition, future films from Disney, Sony, Paramount, and Universal have been pulled from the country. Though some have dismissed these efforts as fruitless, the vast majority of films screened in Russia are from Hollywood, making the boycott a viable financial tool to aid in the resolution of the dispute. Serkis’ outspokenness on this matter, albeit through his Lord of the Rings persona, should assist draw attention to the cause.