Andy Serkis on playing the villain in Luther: The Fallen Sun | digital trends

Andy Serkis is good at playing bad. The prolific character actor has portrayed some of the most memorable villains in modern cinema: Gollum in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Caesar in the Planet of the Apes films, Ulysses Klaue in one of the MCU’s greatest films. Black Panther, and King Kong in Peter Jackson’s hit 2005 remake. What makes Serkis so great is that his villains aren’t necessarily evil; most believe that he is doing the right thing, which somehow makes them even more terrifying.

with his new movie Luther: the fallen sun, now streaming on Netflix, Serkis adds another villain to his impressive rogues gallery. As David Robey, the actor is at his best playing someone who uses technology, intimidation and shame to get what he wants. In a conversation with Digital Trends, Serkis talks about the appeal of playing bad guys, working with luther actor Idris Elba, and whether or not Robey’s gorgeous hair is the result of Serkis’ good genes or Netflix’s massive wig budget.

Digital trends: You’ve played many iconic villains over the past two decades, such as Gollum in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Supreme Leader Snoke in Star Wars: The Force Awakensand Caesar in rise of the planet of the apes. As an actor, what draws you to playing a villain and specifically David Robey in Luther: the fallen sun?

Andy Serkis: I was attracted the fallen sun because it addressed the ongoing debate about the power of the internet. David is really only partially the villain in this piece; the real villain is that we all give our responsibility to the internet, deepfakes and artificial intelligence. We have completely abjured responsibility. We almost accept that we are going to be watched, watched, spied on and hacked. We know that our identities will be stolen at some point.

We’ve gotten so used to the power technology has over us and that’s fertile ground for a character like David Robey to manipulate people through shame. This is how he has power. He can use the information that has been stolen to extort and manipulate people into doing his bidding.

Beyond that, what I also found fascinating about the character is the fact that he is a nobody, really. He is an isolated and lonely individual who relies on other people’s personalities by spying on them. He steals their existence, which is the only way he knows of to become someone other than himself. That was interesting for me as an actor to examine and then portray.

Of all the villains you’ve played, which one is your favorite? Is it just the current one you’re playing, or do you have one you’ve played in the past that is close to your heart?

A man waits in a car in Luther: The Fallen Sun.

Every character you invest in, if it’s current and you’re actively involved in portraying it, becomes the most challenging thing in your life. It is defining you at that moment. I really didn’t want to play David when I was originally offered the part. I just thought he was so dark and really despicable in what he does in the fallen sun. But what made me take that leap of faith was the subject itself and what it represents.

A villain is only as good as the protagonist he fights. Can you talk a bit about how you worked with Idris Elba to create that antagonistic dynamic between you in the few scenes you had together?

I have always admired Idris very much, particularly in this role. Seeing him as John Luther on set was pretty amazing because he owns that character. It’s very rare that you work with another actor who has played that role for so long.

He’s played that character for over 10 years, so he has a thorough understanding of who John Luther is. For me, it was magnetic to work with someone who has that kind of ownership. The few scenes we have where Luther and Robey face each other are very exciting. We both wanted to work together for a long time and it was exciting that it finally happened in the fallen sun.

Every memorable villain has some unique physical trait that makes them stand out. Just look at any Bond villain like Oddjob in gold finger or Le Chiffre in Royal Casino. With David, it struck me that the unique physical trait of him is his beautiful hair. What is the secret? Is it all you? Is the master of wigs on Netflix?

[Laughs] Well let me ask you, what do you think it is?

Luther: The Fallen Sun | Official trailer | Netflix

It has to be a combination of good genes and really expensive wigs.

It was my own hair! It was all my own work, so to speak. [Laughs] I endured hours of peroxide washes, re-colors, and all sorts of other things to get just the right look. Many people have compared it to Siegfried & Roy or David Soul from Starsky and Hutch. I guess that’s David Robey’s signature style.

Luther: the fallen sun it is currently streaming on Netflix.

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James D. Brown
James D. Brown
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