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Gollum actor: I got my voice from cat

Andy Serkis as Gollum in "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King."

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'Lord of the Rings'
Andy Serkis

BERLIN, Germany (Reuters) -- Andy Serkis, the British actor who plays the bulging-eyed, schizophrenic cave-dweller Gollum in "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy, said on Monday he studied his cats to develop his character's sinister throaty voice.

"I actually found the voice from watching my cats at home," he said in Berlin ahead of the European premiere of the last part of the "Rings" trilogy, "The Return of the King".

"They lick the fur off their bodies, then it gets stuck in the back of their throats. When they get rid of it they get fur balls and they're sick and that became 'Gollum,' 'Gollum.' "

A classically trained stage actor, Serkis, 39, said playing the role of a creature obsessed with trying to seize the magic ring he calls "my precious" was challenging both for body and voice.

"I used to drink a lot of... 'Gollum' juice which was honey and lemon and ginger and fruit teas and stuff," he said. "I had a lot of lower back injuries because I made this decision to make him crawl because he's an addict and I wanted to reflect that sense of desperation."

Serkis acted every scene featuring Gollum. He then repeated the scenes wearing a special suit marked with dots that were monitored by 25 cameras and used to generate a computer image. Animators then copied his facial movements.

Even though the Gollum character looks sub-human on screen with its translucent skin and huge head, people still recognize Serkis, especially when they see his watery-blue eyes.

"People do come up in the street. ... If they lock eyes with me, they run up to me with their phones and say, 'Can you speak to my sister as Gollum?' "

Asked what he would do if he had the all-powerful but corrupting ring that is the focus of the trilogy, Serkis said "I would banish all religions first of all."

Copyright 2003 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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