Tom Hardy Playing Venom Through Motion-Capture

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Tom Hardy has faced the hurdles of acting with masks covering his face and his eyes for many of his most famous roles — so motion-capture technology should be a piece of cake.

It’s not much of a surprise that Hardy will be portraying the alien symbiote in Venom in a mo-cap suit, considering the character’s shape-shifting abilities. It is a bit of a surprise that we would get confirmation of this through Andy Serkis‘ mouth, however.

Serkis is on the vanguard of mo-cap performances, having pioneered the technology with his roles as Gollum in Lord of the Rings and Caesar in the Planet of the Apes reboot films. He also runs the performance capture studio The Imaginarium, which makes it likely that Serkis is either aware or involved in most conversations studios have on using motion-capture technology in their films. And Serkis seems to confirm that Sony’s Venom starring Hardy, Michelle Williams, Riz Ahmed, and Jenny Slate, is one of those films on board the mo-cap train.

Serkis, who was speaking to Yahoo about his directorial debut Breathe (which unfortunately, has no motion-capture technology), said:

“Acting is acting, and the more actors – like Steve Zahn… and Karin Konoval who plays Maurice in ‘War For The Planet of the Apes’ – the more A-list actors that come on board, like Mark Rylance playing The BFG, or a lot of actors in the new Marvel films… Tom Hardy is playing a new character using performance capture. It all points up ‘what is the nature of acting?’ and there is no difference between acting wearing a costume and make up, or wearing a motion capture suit. That’s plain and simple, it just needs awarding bodies to understand that.”

Serkis’ London-based Imaginarium provided the technology that brought Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk to life in Avengers: Age of Ultron, so Serkis is no stranger when it comes to working within the superhero genre. Whether Serkis is working as a consultant on Venom like he did with Age of Ultron, or whether the mo-cap community is just really tight, is a mystery. But it seems likely that Venom director Ruben Fleischer will turn to motion-capture technology, used in films from Star Wars to the Jungle Book, to work on the Spider-Man spin-off film, which has just started production.

Perhaps it should come as no surprise that Venom will be a motion capture creation. After all, Omega Underground has reported that Weta Digital (the geniuses behind the mo-cap work in Avatar, the Planet of the Apes movies, and many more) are on board to work on the film’s visual effects.

And while this will be Hardy’s first film acting in motion-capture technology, I have no doubts that he will take to it immediately. Hardy has become incredibly adept at portraying the most subtle of emotions through a flicker of the eyes, or a twinge in his face — often when he is hindered by a mask like in Dunkirk or Mad Max: Fury Road. So it seems like mo-cap technology (which relies heavily on actors emoting heavily with their eyes and faces and giving a team of talent VFX artists a performance they can work with) would be perfectly suited for Hardy.

Venom is set to open in theaters on October 5, 2018.

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