Only a few days left before the release of “The Batman”, which arrives on March 2, 2022, in theaters! The opportunity to take stock with Andy Serkis on his role of Alfred Pennyworth, his strained relationship with Bruce Wayne, and his collaboration with Matt Reeves.
Andy Serkis is Alfred in The Batman
To slip into Alfred’s clothes for The Batman, Matt Reeves turned to Andy Serkis. An exceptional actor, famous in particular for having given life to Gollum in the trilogy The Lord of the Rings by Peter Jackson, and Caesar in the saga The Planet of the Apes whose last two opuses are directed by Matt Reeves. So we wanted to know a little more about this new collaboration between them, the difference that “his” Alfred brings to The Batman, and her relationship with Bruce Wayne, played by Robert Pattinson.
Interview with Andy Serkis
You worked with Matt Reeves on Planet of the Apes: The Showdown and Planet of the Apes: Supremacy. Meet you for The Batman was it obvious?
Andy Serkis: What is certain is that I love working with Matt. He’s incredibly sensitive and attentive, as an actor’s director he always wants to go as far as possible, explore again and again until he finds what works.
We’ve been talking for a long time about The Batman. What I love about Matt and his style of directing is that no matter the scope of the production, the scale, the number of special effects, or the extraordinary nature of the world he films, it always comes back to the emotional reality of the characters and their relationships.
In Planet of the Apes: The Showdown and Planet of the Apes: Supremacy, the notion of family and in particular the father-son relationship are important. There is a form of continuity, we met for The Batman on this theme, and that motivated my interpretation of Alfred. Matt wanted someone who could play a complex version of a father who isn’t a father.
In our story, Alfred wants more than anything to be the surrogate father of a child whose parents have been murdered. But that’s something he can’t do. He has the feelings, but he doesn’t have the capacity to really be a father. And that is the tragedy of this character.
Like Bruce Wayne, your Alfred Pennyworth looks brand new. What are the differences from previous versions of the character, including that of Michael Caine?
Andy Serkis: I tried not to think about it. I worked with Michael Caine on different occasions, and I admire him as an actor, but you had to try to forget what had been done before. First of all, my Alfred is younger than those embodied before on screen. There is already this difference. He’s still like a mentor, but he’s a bit less of a butler. He’s an ex-SAS, he was a security officer. And he’s very physical, despite his injury and the cane he uses to walk.
In The Batman, the relationship between Bruce and Alfred is about to fracture, because he has the impression of losing Bruce Wayne, that this one is disappearing in his other identity. So there is a real tension between them, something sad and heartbreaking. Alfred tries to guide him, to keep him on the straight and narrow, but it falls on deaf ears!
How was your collaboration with Robert Pattinson?
Andy Serkis: Robert Pattinson is quite extraordinary, and his Batman is remarkable. He can ensure the vengeful side, detective and vigilant and to do so with force.
But he is also able to offer a damaged Bruce Wayne, torn by inner conflicts. There’s a multi-dimensional aspect to his work, and I loved working with him.
Will we find you in an upcoming Batman movie, with the same team?
Andy Serkis: I’ll go to hell with Matt! Yes, of course, if there is a second film and if Alfred is to be there, I will be there. Matt’s films are so personal, so invested. He wrote this one over three years and directed it over two years, so it’s five years of his life. All the details he brought to the film and this story, it’s phenomenal. So yes, thousand times yes!
Interview by Marc-Aurèle Garreau on December 6, 2021.