James Franco wants Hollywood and the Academy to recognize the performance capture work of Andy Serkis, his Rise of the Planet of the Apes co-star. (PHOTO: 20th Century Fox)
James Franco wants to talk about Andy Serkis.
More specifically, the 33-year-old wants his Rise of the Planet of the Apes co-star to get some overdue credit for his role in leading performance capture technology.
On Sunday, Franco delivered his praise for Serkis, 47, in a special column for Deadline Hollywood.
In more than 900 words, Franco holds nothing back, calling Serkis Che Guevara in chimp form, explaining the acting revolution Hollywood is going through and calling for recognition of this form of acting now (not later when this kind of acting is de riguer).
Rise of the Planet of the Apes emerged out of last summer's somewhat dry movie season as one of the more successful blockbusters, right up there with Captain America: The First Avenger, Transformers: Dark of the Moon and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2.
Apes went on to gross more than $481 million at the box office worldwide and tallied an 83 percent Certified Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
In his Deadline column, Franco touches on Serkis' previous work and the birth of performance capture.
Audiences are used to large scale effects . . . we want to forget that there is a human underneath, the effects are so well rendered we either forget that the spark of life in its eyes and the life in its limbs is informed by a breathing human . . . what this means is that we can enjoy such a character -- enjoyment testified by the response to such films as 'Avatar,' 'Return of the King' and 'Planet of the Apes' -- but we don't give artistic credit where it is due, Franco writes.
Performance Capture is here, like it or not . . . this is not animation as much as it's digital 'make-up' . . . [Andy's] problem is that the digital 'make-up' is so convincing that it makes people forget that he provides the soul of Caesar, he continues.
The timing of Franco's column is no accident.
While there are still two weeks to go before Oscar nominations are announced, the polls actually close on Jan. 13. Serkis' name could very well be on the ballots in the hands of some 6,000 Academy members, who are responsible for the final nominations for categories like Best Supporting Actor, Visual Effects and so on.
Andy doesn't need me to tell him he is an innovator, he knows it. What is needed is recognition for him, now . . . it is time for actors to give credit to other actors . . . [Caesar] is no Lassie and this is no Roger Rabbit, it is the creation of an actor doing something that I dare say no other actor could have done at this moment, Franco concludes.
Since the release of Apes last summer, and since the beginning of major movie awards season, Serkis has been nominated for a slew of prizes, including the IGN Award for Best Movie Actor and a Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actor (he lost both).
He is currently up for a Critics Choice Award for Best Supporting Actor, along with Kenneth Branagh, Albert Brooks, Nick Nolte, Patton Oswalt and Christopher Plummer. The winner will be announced at the ceremony on Jan. 12.
In December, Serkis will return to the silver screen in his most famous role prior to Caesar -- playing Smeagol/Gollum in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the first half of the film adaptation to J. R. R. Tolkein's The Hobbit.
Reuniting with Peter Jackson and company, Serkis is also serving as second unit director on both films.
I think I understand Peter's sensibility and we have a common history of understanding Middle Earth . . . yes, there is some performance capture, but I will be very much on the live action sets and locations helping Peter to tell the story, Serkis told The Hollywood Reporter last April.
When we created Gollum the first time, performance capture was in its infancy . . . [now] within the industry, there is more appreciation for it as an acting art form. It's all about character, learning what the character thinks, feels, how he carries pain, Serkis added.
For James Franco's column on Andy Serkis, visit the Deadline Awards Line page. Scroll down for the trailer for Rise of the Planet of the Apes.
Do you think Andy Serkis deserves an Oscar nomination for his performance capture work in Rise of the Planet of the Apes? Share your thoughts below.