You Wouldn’t Believe How LoTR’s Andy Serkis Came Up with Gollum’s Voice

You Wouldn’t Believe How LoTR’s Andy Serkis Came Up with Gollum’s Voice
Image credit: Legion-Media

Andy Serkis famously voiced Gollum in Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. The consensus is that no one could have done it better.

Have you ever wondered how the movie Gollum got his signature voice? J.R.R. Tolkien has named the character after his nasty habit of making “a horrible swallowing noise in his throat.” And that’s certainly hard to replicate on screen.

Thankfully, Andy Serkis has found the perfect way to make his Gollum as lore accurate as possible. In 2013, the actor spoke with the American Film Institute about his journey in Tolkien’s Middle-Earth and shared how he developed his character’s voice.

One day, Andy’s agent called to tell him about his next voiceover gig in The Lord of the Rings, and Serkis had actually read The Hobbit back in school, which is why he knew who Gollum was. He wasn’t a voice actor, so he knew that he had to work extra hard to get the part. Serkis immediately began reading up on Gollum and developing his take on the character.

Once the star understood Gollum’s physicality and psyche, it was time for him to create a voice for the character. Since Tolkien himself gave Gollum a speaking name, Andy thought that there had to be something “involuntary” about the way he sounded. As the actor was envisioning how to bring that to life, he was faced with an unlikely assistant to his difficult task.

One of his cats apparently came into the kitchen and started “coughing up a fur ball,” and that’s when it hit Serkis. Watching his cat shake its body from head to tail and make that characteristic sound, he realized that this was exactly what he needed to do with Gollum.

The actor went in for the audition with that thought in mind and effortlessly nailed it. The rest is history. Just imagine how different Gollum could have been if Andy’s cat hadn’t started coughing up that fur ball in front of him all those years ago!

Source: American Film Institute