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Gollum: How We Made Movie Magic

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Film-making history was made when, in The Two Towers, an actor's performance and digital animation were seamlessly integrated to create the world's first totally lifelike computer-generated character. Now Andy Serkis tells his own story about how a three-week commission to provide a voiceover for Gollum grew into a five-year commitment to breathe life and soul into The Lor Film-making history was made when, in The Two Towers, an actor's performance and digital animation were seamlessly integrated to create the world's first totally lifelike computer-generated character. Now Andy Serkis tells his own story about how a three-week commission to provide a voiceover for Gollum grew into a five-year commitment to breathe life and soul into The Lord of the Rings' most challenging creation. - Did the voice of Gollum really start with a cat being sick? - What was it like acting in a bodysuit covered in dots? - How much was Gollum modeled to look like Andy? - What surprises does The Return of the King hold in store? Fully illustrated with more than one hundred exclusive behind-the-scenes photos and drawings, and with contributions from the many designers and animators who brought Gollum to life, this book examines the transition to the big screen of one of literature's most unforgettable creatures. As the filming takes him from London to Wellington, and from the MIsty Mountains to Mount Doom, Andy Serkis explains the methods - and the madness - behind the most amazing five years in this actor's life.


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Film-making history was made when, in The Two Towers, an actor's performance and digital animation were seamlessly integrated to create the world's first totally lifelike computer-generated character. Now Andy Serkis tells his own story about how a three-week commission to provide a voiceover for Gollum grew into a five-year commitment to breathe life and soul into The Lor Film-making history was made when, in The Two Towers, an actor's performance and digital animation were seamlessly integrated to create the world's first totally lifelike computer-generated character. Now Andy Serkis tells his own story about how a three-week commission to provide a voiceover for Gollum grew into a five-year commitment to breathe life and soul into The Lord of the Rings' most challenging creation. - Did the voice of Gollum really start with a cat being sick? - What was it like acting in a bodysuit covered in dots? - How much was Gollum modeled to look like Andy? - What surprises does The Return of the King hold in store? Fully illustrated with more than one hundred exclusive behind-the-scenes photos and drawings, and with contributions from the many designers and animators who brought Gollum to life, this book examines the transition to the big screen of one of literature's most unforgettable creatures. As the filming takes him from London to Wellington, and from the MIsty Mountains to Mount Doom, Andy Serkis explains the methods - and the madness - behind the most amazing five years in this actor's life.

30 review for Gollum: How We Made Movie Magic

  1. 4 out of 5

    Bea

    4 stars! Very informative and includes a lot of behind-the-scenes information of the creation of Gollum on screen throughout the trilogy. I really liked Serkis’ inclusion of the effect the character and experience of filming has had on his life and the detail in the technological development of CGI and Motion Capture for example, at the time of recording to create the character of Gollum for an audience. Good read for those who have seen the trilogy and would love to know more about how it came to 4 stars! Very informative and includes a lot of behind-the-scenes information of the creation of Gollum on screen throughout the trilogy. I really liked Serkis’ inclusion of the effect the character and experience of filming has had on his life and the detail in the technological development of CGI and Motion Capture for example, at the time of recording to create the character of Gollum for an audience. Good read for those who have seen the trilogy and would love to know more about how it came to be.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Christine

    Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings movies spark debate. You have the wonderful people who say, "they're too long and have things with pointy ears. Yuck!". You have people who say, "the books are better" (and these people are right). You have people who say, "the books are better and Jackson should meet a Balrog in a dark alley". But I like to think most of us are like me. Yes, the books are better, but the movies were cool too. We can quibble about what got left in and taken out. (No, I don't miss Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings movies spark debate. You have the wonderful people who say, "they're too long and have things with pointy ears. Yuck!". You have people who say, "the books are better" (and these people are right). You have people who say, "the books are better and Jackson should meet a Balrog in a dark alley". But I like to think most of us are like me. Yes, the books are better, but the movies were cool too. We can quibble about what got left in and taken out. (No, I don't miss Tom. Yes, I miss Frodo at the Ford. No, Arwen's change doesn't bother me). Yet, I think a writer on Salon.com who knew Tolkien got it right. The movies were a remarkable testment to skill and ability, and craftmanship. (and thank god, Sting didn't look like a lightsaber). I actually knew who Andy Serkis was before he got cast as Gollum. I mean, I actually knew the name as opposed to the "wow, that elf (or Gondor dude or Rohan dude) looks familiar. Look he was in Hercules (or Xena)". Nope, I had seen him in stuff. Serkis is one of those British actors who doesn't really have the looks to make it in American Film, which is sad, because he's really funny and does spooky very well (he even made a good Van Gogh). He even writes funny. This book is about Serkis' journey as Gollum. He doesn't touch on the debate surronding Gollum that got sparked off by Two Towers and Gollum's discussion with himself (too cute vs. okay). He does, however, provided detail into the making of Gollum from the special effects to the inspiration of his cat (who deserves a credit in film). The tone is fun and the details are not techincal so anyone can read it.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Margaret

    Lovely little book which is basically an abbreviated diary of Andy Serkis' time creating Gollum in the LOTR trilogy of movies. Much information for the technically minded and for Tolkien geeks. Gorgeously illustrated with scenes from the movies and MANY behind the scenes shots. Wonderful. Lovely little book which is basically an abbreviated diary of Andy Serkis' time creating Gollum in the LOTR trilogy of movies. Much information for the technically minded and for Tolkien geeks. Gorgeously illustrated with scenes from the movies and MANY behind the scenes shots. Wonderful.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ariana

    An editing nightmare. I picked up this book because I love "making-of" featurettes about movies and I thought this would be similar. Ugh. The editing of a book has never stood out to me so much before, and it was NOT in a good way. For starters, as commendable and inspired as Andy Serkis's performance as Gollum was, his writing is average, even in final book form. He frequently brings up things that are irrelevant to the story he is telling, and even uses the same example to illustrate his point An editing nightmare. I picked up this book because I love "making-of" featurettes about movies and I thought this would be similar. Ugh. The editing of a book has never stood out to me so much before, and it was NOT in a good way. For starters, as commendable and inspired as Andy Serkis's performance as Gollum was, his writing is average, even in final book form. He frequently brings up things that are irrelevant to the story he is telling, and even uses the same example to illustrate his point more than once. I got the feeling that when the editor got Andy's first draft, he or she took one look at it and said, "Oh, my god, look at the typos." I've edited really bad writing before, and once I took out the spelling and grammatical errors and fixed the run-on sentences, it was hard to bring myself to rewrite every sentence and change the focus of every paragraph so that it made sense. I didn't want to COMPLETELY rewrite it or else the person who wrote it wouldn't recognize it anymore. I feel the editor of this book may have had a similar problem. Andy's questionable writing skills aside, there were other problems. The whole book was laid out like a big "public-interest"-type story in Time magazine. There was the main story with plenty of pictures, and then there were those shaded text boxes. Now, the point of those shaded text boxes, when you see them in Time magazine, is: "Here is something really interesting that relates to the story, but it doesn't fit in with the main narrative." Unfortunately, this is not how they were used in this book. There were way too many of them, to begin with. Sometimes there would be a paragraph of Andy's narrative on each page, and the entire rest of the page would be filled with shaded text boxes. At one point, there were five(!) pages of shaded text boxes in a row, with none of Andy's narrative. The other problem with the shaded text boxes is that they were NOT usually "Something really interesting that doesn't fit in with the main narrative". They were incredibly repetitive, and I think I figured out why: what appears to have gone down was that the editor of the book tracked down every last person who worked on a part of the movie that had to do with Gollum and told them, "We're writing a book on how the character of Gollum was created. Can you write 300-1000 words about your thoughts and experiences and we'll put it in the book?" Predictably enough, 90% of these contributions amounted to: "Andy Serkis is an acting genius and the team of animators did an amazing job bringing this character to life." Try reading that upwards of forty times and you'll understand why I super-skimmed through the last 3 chapters of this book. My recommendation: skip the book, watch the "making-of" featurette instead.

  5. 5 out of 5

    L

    A fascinating look at one of the most interesting characters within ‘The Lord of the Rings’ Indisputably distinctive and intriguing, Gollum/ Sméagol has to be one of the most fascinating creatures that dwells upon Middle-Earth with his past partly remaining a mystery. I was delighted to find a single volume dedicated to this slippery character who was central to Frodo’s journey, and was the most complex of all creatures ~ topping the Dwarves, Elves and Wizards! It is the fact that instead of just A fascinating look at one of the most interesting characters within ‘The Lord of the Rings’ Indisputably distinctive and intriguing, Gollum/ Sméagol has to be one of the most fascinating creatures that dwells upon Middle-Earth with his past partly remaining a mystery. I was delighted to find a single volume dedicated to this slippery character who was central to Frodo’s journey, and was the most complex of all creatures ~ topping the Dwarves, Elves and Wizards! It is the fact that instead of just using a CGI image but an actual actor to play this creature, (in the form of Andy Serkis), that makes it so brilliant. Andy literally makes Gollum transform into life, flesh and blood, with every single movement, sound and facial feature being somewhat of an art form. This indispensable, comprehensive guide takes a look behind the scenes at how Sméagol became Gollum, and how he was transformed from the page and onto the big screen. Film-making history was made when, in ‘the two towers’, an actor’s performance and digital animation were seamlessly integrated to create the world’s first totally lifelike computer-generated character. This is Andy Serkis’ story about how a three-week commission to provide a voice-over for Gollum grew into one of the most challenging creations for ‘The Lord of the Rings’. With more than 100 exclusive full-color behind-the-scenes photos and drawings, together with contributions from the many designers and animators who brought Gollum to life, this truly is a spectacular book. Gollum/ Sméagol has to be the most unforgettable characters, who thanks to Andy Serkis’ vision and creativity brought him to ‘life’ for all to see. Above all else, Gollum is the one character within JRR Tolkien’s epic work which certainly does him justice and which I feel would make the author proud. JRR Tolkien’s vision has transformed into something tangible and real, whilst an actor discovered the most life-changing 5 years of his life. This wonderful, must-have book explores ~ * Gollum’s voice (which does sound a bit like a Cat being sick!) * Andy acting in a bodysuit covered in dots * The similarities between Andy and Gollum’s features * Future surprises in store for ‘The Return of the King’! I would highly recommend this book to add to your Tolkien collection, especially if you are an avid fan of Peter Jackson’s films.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Corinne Morier

    AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH IT WAS SUCH A GOOD BOOK MY PRECIOUS!! If I ever meet Serkis in real life, he's autographing this for me. So many gorgeous full-color photos of never-before seen behind-the-scenes images! And so many stories that literally did not get told on the bonus features of the DVDs! Totally worth a read if you can get ahold of a copy! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH IT WAS SUCH A GOOD BOOK MY PRECIOUS!! If I ever meet Serkis in real life, he's autographing this for me. So many gorgeous full-color photos of never-before seen behind-the-scenes images! And so many stories that literally did not get told on the bonus features of the DVDs! Totally worth a read if you can get ahold of a copy!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Autumn Fleming

    Enjoyable and informative! A hardcore LOTR nerd, when I discovered this book at my local library, I had to pick it up. I honestly don't know how it took me this long to learn that this book existed, but once I knew it did, I knew I had to read it. It was a nice quick read that offered a lot of great insight into the development of Gollum on every front- technical, physical and mental. I enjoyed Serkis' behind the scenes stories and his stories of what he did while he wasn't working as well as al Enjoyable and informative! A hardcore LOTR nerd, when I discovered this book at my local library, I had to pick it up. I honestly don't know how it took me this long to learn that this book existed, but once I knew it did, I knew I had to read it. It was a nice quick read that offered a lot of great insight into the development of Gollum on every front- technical, physical and mental. I enjoyed Serkis' behind the scenes stories and his stories of what he did while he wasn't working as well as all of the outside influences he brought to his portrayal of Gollum. That being said, the writing of this book was nothing extraordinary and it didn't leave me feeling like "wow!" or anything, I just kind of eased into my next book. I definitely recommend this book to anyone who is an LOTR fan!

  8. 5 out of 5

    S.S.

    I picked this book up because I'm a LOTR nut and I was excited to see a book about Gollum. I really thought it was a good and enjoyable read; Andy Serkis had an engaging way of writing that was both funny and very interesting. I like behind the scenes type things anyway so this was a bonus for me. The photographs really helped to illustrate the subject matter (both literally and figuratively); this is something I want to return to again in the future. (my dad is now also reading this book - he b I picked this book up because I'm a LOTR nut and I was excited to see a book about Gollum. I really thought it was a good and enjoyable read; Andy Serkis had an engaging way of writing that was both funny and very interesting. I like behind the scenes type things anyway so this was a bonus for me. The photographs really helped to illustrate the subject matter (both literally and figuratively); this is something I want to return to again in the future. (my dad is now also reading this book - he borrowed it from me!)

  9. 5 out of 5

    Amber

    This was a really fun, informative behind the scenes look at Andy's time on LotR. As someone who's watched the behind the scenes footage countless times, it was interesting to hear a more personal account of what working on these films was like, especially for an actor with such a unique set of filming circumstances. I would love to read a follow-up about the evolution of motion capture and Andy's work with it! This was a really fun, informative behind the scenes look at Andy's time on LotR. As someone who's watched the behind the scenes footage countless times, it was interesting to hear a more personal account of what working on these films was like, especially for an actor with such a unique set of filming circumstances. I would love to read a follow-up about the evolution of motion capture and Andy's work with it!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Christopher

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Gollum: How We Made Movie Magic is a great insight into how the character of Gollum was brought t life! :D At the same time time Serkis takes us though asides to the events that took place during the filming and gives a hectic look at the demands associated with acting but full of frank observations and laugh out loud situations! :D Funny, revealing, frank and incisive! :D Highly recommended! :D

  11. 5 out of 5

    Iben

    Ganske kort og letlæst men til tider lidt rodet i sin tidslinje. Super spændende indblik i hvordan Gollum blev til og hele Andy Serkis' eventyr. Dog ærgerligt bogen slutter inden premieren af den tredje film og den efterfølgende OSCAR succes - ville gerne have læst Serkis' reaktioner på det :) Ganske kort og letlæst men til tider lidt rodet i sin tidslinje. Super spændende indblik i hvordan Gollum blev til og hele Andy Serkis' eventyr. Dog ærgerligt bogen slutter inden premieren af den tredje film og den efterfølgende OSCAR succes - ville gerne have læst Serkis' reaktioner på det :)

  12. 4 out of 5

    Peter Babczuk

    Beautiful insights and a nice addition to my collection.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Heather

    I might be 15 years or so late reading this, but I really enjoyed it. Gollum is a strange and unforgettable character and it seems like Serkis' commitment to the project was a huge part of its success. I might be 15 years or so late reading this, but I really enjoyed it. Gollum is a strange and unforgettable character and it seems like Serkis' commitment to the project was a huge part of its success.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kathasbooksandmore

    Lord of the Rings is one of the best movie series out there. The process of filming a movie like this is generally very fascinating. Especially taking a closer look at a character like Gollum gives a new perspective on the behind-the-scenes aspects of a movie. In this book, the actor Andy Serkis describes the process of developing and bringing to life Gollum, who he not only lends his voice but actually plays in the movie series. The book is full of anecdotes from the time Andy Serkis was chosen Lord of the Rings is one of the best movie series out there. The process of filming a movie like this is generally very fascinating. Especially taking a closer look at a character like Gollum gives a new perspective on the behind-the-scenes aspects of a movie. In this book, the actor Andy Serkis describes the process of developing and bringing to life Gollum, who he not only lends his voice but actually plays in the movie series. The book is full of anecdotes from the time Andy Serkis was chosen to be Gollum, to the point where all of the movies were completed. The author describes personal experiences as well as the filmmaking process and the technical developments made during the filming. I like the fact that there is a lot of interesting information about the process that made Gollum come to life on screen. The book is full of interesting pictures, interviews and background information not only from Serkis but also from other members of the crew. The book is relatively short so that it can be read quickly and it is easy to understand. In general I liked the mixture between technical information about the filming process and personal anecdotes, but in many parts of the book the aspect of anecdotes was to dominat for my taste. Some of those anecdotes were just about personal experiences and did not have anything to do with filmmaking at all. These parts could, in my opinion, have been reduced. Over all, I like the book and the behind-the-scenes aspects and enjoyed reading it.

  15. 4 out of 5

    J. Bryce

    Andy Serkis's own story about how he was hired to "voice" Gollum in Peter Jackson's film trilogy of The Lord of The Rings, and how that voicing changed and evolved as both his potential, and that of the CG crew, evolved to full fruition. Cover The Fellowship of the Ring well, and The Two Towers, but there's not much here on The Return of the King, and of course nothing on The Hobbit. But if you're into filmmaking, and the LotR films, you'll find this fascinating. There's even hope, according to a Andy Serkis's own story about how he was hired to "voice" Gollum in Peter Jackson's film trilogy of The Lord of The Rings, and how that voicing changed and evolved as both his potential, and that of the CG crew, evolved to full fruition. Cover The Fellowship of the Ring well, and The Two Towers, but there's not much here on The Return of the King, and of course nothing on The Hobbit. But if you're into filmmaking, and the LotR films, you'll find this fascinating. There's even hope, according to a quick sidebar at the end, that the not-Andy-Serkis Gollum in The Fellowship of The Ring may be replaced with a CG-version in some future DVD or BD release, as I've long been hoping for! (Apparently it's a much more complex task than I imagined.)

  16. 5 out of 5

    LinTu

    I've always loved behind the scenes stuff and this book was able to give me a glimpse behind the curtains of one of the best movies I've ever seen. The good thing is that it's written by one of the actors, not by a writer or by a journalist, but by a person who was actually there. Andy Serkis is an amazing actor and he's an amazing writer. He was able to make me believe I was on the set too. He also helped me understand the process of movie-making and he answered a lot of questions I had about t I've always loved behind the scenes stuff and this book was able to give me a glimpse behind the curtains of one of the best movies I've ever seen. The good thing is that it's written by one of the actors, not by a writer or by a journalist, but by a person who was actually there. Andy Serkis is an amazing actor and he's an amazing writer. He was able to make me believe I was on the set too. He also helped me understand the process of movie-making and he answered a lot of questions I had about the making of Gollum. If you like The Lord of the Rings trilogy, this book is exactly for you.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Anna-Marie

    This book is great. It's by Andy Serkis who played gollum in the Lord of the Rings as most of you probably know. Its really his Lord of the Rings story and a American actors view of New Zealand I found it really funny being from New Zealand. But its great and worth reading. This book is great. It's by Andy Serkis who played gollum in the Lord of the Rings as most of you probably know. Its really his Lord of the Rings story and a American actors view of New Zealand I found it really funny being from New Zealand. But its great and worth reading.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Sofia

    Of all the "behind the scenes" books (with the exception of the "Art" ones) this is probably the most interesting. It's not just photos and little comments, it's a real description by Andy Serkis of how Gollum was created: the challenges, the technical solutions, the script and Andy Serkis' experience and "voyage" with the character. Of all the "behind the scenes" books (with the exception of the "Art" ones) this is probably the most interesting. It's not just photos and little comments, it's a real description by Andy Serkis of how Gollum was created: the challenges, the technical solutions, the script and Andy Serkis' experience and "voyage" with the character.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Discoverylover

    I finished this just now, and wow, what an interesting book! I thought I'd seen this in shops, but if I have then I've obviously never opened it up (more fool me!), thinking it was something completely different. Have to say kudos to Andy Serkis for managing to explain what he did so well, and in such an interesting manner as well. If there were more I'd definitely read them! I finished this just now, and wow, what an interesting book! I thought I'd seen this in shops, but if I have then I've obviously never opened it up (more fool me!), thinking it was something completely different. Have to say kudos to Andy Serkis for managing to explain what he did so well, and in such an interesting manner as well. If there were more I'd definitely read them!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Rose

    Filled with interesting facts and lots of humor, this is the #1 place to go for a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of Gollum from The Lord of the Rings films. Actor Andy Serkis gives an engaging and humorous first-hand experience of his performance and the digital animation that brought Gollum to life. A must-read for all LOTR fans!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Kristina Brown

    A chance to find out how the world of virtual performances was developed. Pioneered by Andy Serkis' amazing commitment to creating a believable character, he rightly won the first award ever given for 'best virtual performance'. Not bad for what was initially described as 3 weeks work. A chance to find out how the world of virtual performances was developed. Pioneered by Andy Serkis' amazing commitment to creating a believable character, he rightly won the first award ever given for 'best virtual performance'. Not bad for what was initially described as 3 weeks work.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Lady Minya

    A wonderful insight, written by Andy Serkis, into the world of creating Gollum. I thought it was a brilliant read, and it just added to my enjoyment and appreciation of the masterpieces that were the Lord of the Rings films.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen

    Andy Serkis and Peter Jackson, both amazing!!

  24. 5 out of 5

    C.C.R. Sorge

    very interesting.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kolby

    i like my smegles.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Clare

    For those interested in Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings or a seminal stage in the art of motion capture, Gollum: How We Made Movie Magic is a treat. A very specific treat.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Wilton314

    Loved the novels. Loved the movies. Love this book as it takes the reader behind the scenes for an intimate, first hand look at how movie magic is made.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    I love behind the scenes books an features and this one doesn't disappoint. I love behind the scenes books an features and this one doesn't disappoint.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Allison

    My copy of this is also signed: 5 stars. ;-)

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jaime

    This was a really good book. I learned a lot about computer-generated characters in movies. It was very interesting!

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