Serkis is best-known for his acting and motion caption work for Lord of the Rings and the Planet of the Apes reboot series, but he’s also got work in the pipeline as a director.
First, there’s his take on The Jungle Book for Warner Bros, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett and himself as Baloo. Serkis also helmed Breathe, a romantic drama starring Andrew Garfield which is out later this year.
Another project he has lined up is an adaptation of George Orwell’s classic, Animal Farm. While there have been delays, it would seem that the film is kicking into gear again.
In an interview with Den of Geek, Serkis revealed that they are developing the film at the Imaginarium, Serkis’ London-based studio which specialises in motion capture. The actor-turned-director also explained how working on The Jungle Book helped him with what he wanted to achieve in Animal Farm.
“We actually started working on [Animal Farm] before I started directing The Jungle Book, which is coming out next year,” he said. “It's a difficult enough process to take an actor's face and put it on an ape, but actually, how do you create a non-humanoid character and anthropomorphise that to a believable degree? Really read the emotion and intention of the actor, like Christian Bale playing a panther, or Benedict Cumberbatch playing a tiger. Really being able to see their faces.
“So the same will be [the case] with Animal Farm; we're going to use performance capture, we've got a great cast lined up, and we're just evolving the script. And boy, there couldn't be a better time to make Animal Farm!”
He did caution, however, that they can’t over rely on contemporary politics: “with satire, you have to be so specific- it's not Saturday Night Live, you know. It can't be so topical that it's out of date - it's got to have a classic arc to it. It has to be its own thing, rather than being about Donald Trump or Theresa May”.
Animal Farm was previously adapted for a British animated feature in 1954 and again in 1999 for a made-for-TV live-action film (pictured above).