||[Dec. 29th, 2009|01:32 am]
Can't wait to see this;|
"Thanks to an incendiary career-defining role in the red-raw musical biopic Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll, Serkis will soon be recognised, without resorting to hyperbole, as one of the greatest actors of his generation. It has already scooped him a Best Actor nomination at this Sunday’s British Independent Film Awards.
“I think that a lot of things have come together with this role," he says, black-clad and bestubbled, sipping spring water in a discreet London hotel and contemplating the break of a lifetime. “There’s a lot that floats my boat in terms of Ian’s style, Ian’s persona and Ian’s artistic endeavour.”
Andy Serkis shakes off his alter egos
Tennant and Serkis as Einstein and Eddington
“Ian” is the rocker Ian Dury, the complicated, vicious and vulnerable subject of Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll. Dury, who was the so-called “pop laureate” of the late 1970s London music scene and was paralysed down his left side (courtesy of a childhood bout with polio), is also the fulminating soul of a movie that swings breathlessly from ecstatic concert scenes to childhood flashbacks to domestic traumas and back again, often all in the short space of a single thumping anthem — Billericay Dickie, Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick or the deadpan title track.
And yet the movie never once abandons its emotional heart. At times it is dangerously moving. The wayward Dury, for instance, sits at the bedside of his heartbroken son Baxter (Bill Milner), and attempts a tough-love life lecture. “Don’t be like me, son. Be like you. Remember, we’re all on our own in this life!”
To which the son stares open-eyed at the father and replies the sweetest, softest: “No, Dad. I’m here.”
It is impossible to overstate just how fully Serkis inhabits the role. A self-confessed research nut, he spent three years of pre-production slowly and wholly becoming Dury. He perfected the singer’s baritone stage growl so precisely that he re-recorded a slew of Dury’s hits with the latter’s backing band, the Blockheads. “It’s quite scary,” says Blockhead Chaz Jankel. “He can now mimic Ian with 100 per cent accuracy.”
Physically, too, to capture the extreme gait of the severely disabled Dury, Serkis began walking with a heavy Seventies-era calliper attached to his leg. And he spent six insane months in the gym working out only on the right side of his body, to leave his left side fragile and weak. He admits that though the results onscreen are convincing, the methods have left him in pain. “I’ve got a dodgy back at the best of times, but the weight of that calliper, throwing it about every day, it shoves your body off-centre. And it made this massive weird muscle develop in my groin. I’m still recovering from it all.”
The emotional work was also intense. Dury confidantes far and wide, including his widow Sophie, son Baxter and daughter Jemima were closely consulted on a script that initially seemed, to Serkis and the screenwriter Paul Viragh at least, indecently unforgiving. “We had this early meeting with Jemima and Baxter where we showed them a first draft of the script,” Serkis says. “They both just sighed, shook their heads and eventually said: ‘He was much more of a c*** than that!’ ”