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Which Is Andy Serkis' Best Motion Capture Character?

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Jul 08, 2014 | 10:54am EDT

Andy Serkis, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes20th Century Fox Film via Everett Collection

There are many actors who routinely give wonderful, memorable performances, but there's only one who manages to do it even when his face doesn't appear onscreen. That man is Andy Serkis, Hollywood's foremost motion capture actor, the rare talent that can bring just as much life to a Tolkien creature or a hyper-intelligent ape as he can another human being. Since the first installment of the Lord of the Rings trilogy hit theaters in 2001, Serkis has been the movie industry's go-to guy for animating everything from monkeys to sailors to Gollums, and his consistently excellent performances each time kicked off a campaign to have motion capture work recognized by the Academy Awards. With Serkis set to return to the big screen (in simian form) as Caesar in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes on Friday, we've decided to take a look at some of the actor's most memorably mo-cap characters in order to determine which one comes out on top in the great battle for supremacy. 

Caesar
Films:
Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Species: Chimpanzee 
Trademarks: Being an incredibly intelligent ape 
Special Skills: High intelligence, the ability to speak, the wisdom and power to rule over a colony of apes, proficiency in horse-riding and shooting
Allies: James Franco and Frieda Pinto in Rise of the Planet of the Apes; Jason Clarke and Keri Russell in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Enemies: Draco Malfoy and Commissioner Gordon
Greatest Dream: A world where apes and humans can live in peace, minus cages
Secret Weapon: He’s a hyper-intelligent ape that can speak to people; he doesn’t need a secret weapon
Signature Move: A barrage of fists to the head

Andy Serkis, The Adventures of TintinParamount Pictures via Everett Collection

Captain Haddock
Film:  
The Adventures of Tintin
Species: Human
Trademarks: Beard, pipe, captain’s hat, permanently grumpy expression
Special Skills: A talent for holding his liquor, a colorful vocabulary, a gift for sarcasm and wisecracks, the ability to tune out chaos and revel in blissful ignorance, unfailing loyalty
Allies: Tintin and Snowy
Enemies: Ivan Ivanovitch Sakharine
Greatest Dream: To regain command of his ship, but more immediately, some more rum
Secret Weapon: He’s at his best when he’s drunk, which is the polar opposite of every other person ever
Signature Move: He’s more of a trash-talker than a proper fighter

Andy Serkis, King KongUniversal Pictures via Everett Collection

King Kong
Film:
Kingof course
Species: Gorilla
Trademarks: He’s a 25-foot-tall gorilla. That’s pretty unique.
Special Skills: incredible strength, a sense of self-preservation, the ability to make audiences sympathize and even shed a tear over a monstrous simian 
Allies: Ann Darrow, with whom he falls in love, and Lumpy the Cook, who tells the crew to leave King Kong alone (or else)
Enemies: Carl Denham, fighter planes
Greatest Dream: To live happily in his jungle with Ann
Secret Weapon: The willingness to sacrifice himself for the people he loves and an incredible resistance to tranquilizers (seriously, it took them forever to knock him out) 
Signature Move: A giant, sweeping side-swipe and roar combination

Andy Serkis, The Hobbit: An Unexpected JourneyWarner Bros. Pictures via Everett Collection

Gollum
Films:
The Lord of the Rings  and The Hobbit  trilogies
Species:
Technically, he was once a Hobbit, but now he’s mostly a species unto himself
Trademarks: Hunched, bony body, six teeth, a lack of hair, that weird snarling noise he always makes
Special Skills: Riddle solving, hunting and fishing, deboning fish, finding ways to amuse himself after spending centuries in the same cave
Allies: Whichever part of himself he’s currently talking to
Enemies: Anyone who wants the precious... and whichever part of himself he’s currently talking to
Greatest Dream: To once again possess the precious so that they may live together in his cave until the end of their days
Secret Weapon: He’ll lure you in by appearing nice, and then turn out to be straight up terrifying; also, he’s so mentally unstable and unpredictable, only half of him knows what he’s going to do at any given moment
Signature Move: Gollum’s totally a biter

So Who Wins?
Captain Haddock is generally too drunk to get involved in a fight, so he’s out, as is King Kong, unless his life or Ann’s life is being threatened. That leaves Caesar and Gollum left to fight it out. While Caesar is smarter and more likely to have both a carefully, thought-out strategy and an army on call, Gollum is just insane and unpredictable enough to take Caesar out. We’re going to have to go with the creature formerly known as Smeagol on this one.  

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