The voice in the first teaser for Star Wars: The Force Awakens has turned out to be none other than Andy Serkis, as revealed by Good Morning America today.
Many were speculating that the voice was Benedict Cumberbatch because of the insidious menacing inflection that Cumberbatch drawls out so well, not to mention his previous work with Abrams, but instead the man behind Caesar the ape in Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes has lent his vocal talents to the teaser. Serkis is a wonder, known best for Gollum in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but his acting goes so far beyond simply playing the loveably hatable wretched creature who ends up pretty much saving Middle Earth. A lot of us have been talking about how the Academy should nominate actors for their motion-capture performances and recently, even for their voice work (Scarlett Johansson in Her) but Serkis has gone unnoticed so far.
Whether or not his role has much else to do with the voiceover he provided for the teaser is still yet to be known. I wouldn’t be surprised if he does have a prominent role however, given how good he is. His voiceover solidified the teaser, which was stunningly short, and amplified the impact of the saga’s return by contextualizing the universe it will take place in.
I’d love to see Serkis playing a role that isn’t motion-capture in Star Wars, but I think the best world would be one in which he plays a half-human, or something of that like. Something that allows Serkis to really use his physicality the way he does so well, but also gives him a human half to be present himself. Imagine if he played this trilogy’s equivalent of Darth Vader, someone whose physical presence and voice is central to his force in the movie. Serkis would be gold at both of those things, so here’s hoping.
But even if he isn’t actually in the movie as anything other than a motion-captured… well, a thing, I guess…. I love that he’s done the voiceover. He has such a powerful growl in the way he can emphasize both danger and excitement. Serkis does so much with his voice that we don’t really appreciate enough, so let’s give him a hand, just for what he’s done so far.