Andy Serkis Cripples Himself for a Year
Andy Serkis is Hollywood's go-to guy when they need someone to act the holy shit out of a role but don't want to look at his face. His most famous parts have been Gollum in The Lord of the Rings, Caesar the chimpanzee in Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and King Kong in some movie we forgot the title of. Wuthering Heights, maybe.
Heathcliff sure is hairier than Emily Bronte made him out to be.
You may only know him through motion capture, but Serkis also does live-action roles. Given the level of dedication he put into playing a bitter and jaded giant ape, it should come as no surprise that he pulls out all the stops for his more human characters, like in 2010, when he played punk rock icon Ian Dury in Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll.
And immediately turned him into Gollum.
Dury came down with a nasty case of polio during his youth and walked with an extreme limp for the rest of his life. He had to wear a set of leg braces just to get around. Serkis (who basically hobbles in all of his films anyway) went beyond just practicing a limp. He prepared for the role by donning leg braces for an entire year, while also working out only the right side of his body, so as to more accurately physically emulate Dury's lopsided muscle distribution. The ordeal further aggravated his bad back and prompted a "weird little muscle" to appear in his groin. Maybe you could spin an extra groin muscle as a net positive, but a bad back is a huge deal, especially for a guy as physical as Serkis. And it was all for a movie that made less than a quarter of its estimated budget.
Tragically, the satanic horn-hair/beard combo was forever lost to anonymity.
We're mostly measuring the success or failure of these films by profit margins alone, and that's a little jaded of us. We know that's not the only source of value for a piece of art. In this case, Dury was an idol of Serkis', and so the project was more about the personal experience for him. On the other hand, we think Joan of Arc was pretty badass, but we're not going to light ourselves on fire just to get into her headspace.
Peter Chung would like to give a shout out to his boo, Jess. Help him pretend he has friends and follow him on Instagram. Also, buy his friend's awesome game, Ascendant, and help to provide Liberty in North Korea. Two totally separate but worthwhile things.
Related Reading: While we're at it, Jared Leto gained like a whole Jared Leto's worth of weight for his role in a movie nobody fucking saw. Weirdly enough, Tom Cruise actually spent time as a Fedex driver for his role in the movie Collateral. But really, the greatest actors on earth are pro wrestlers. And this article proves it.