Recently, Wired released a video of Andy Serkis explaining the history of motion capture effects in movies. Serkis is currently the most eminent figure in this field, which combines real acting with digital animation to bring previously impossible creatures to life on film. Serkis has portrayed Gollum in the Lord of the Rings series, King Kong, other gorillas, and even Supreme Leader Snoke in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. You’re like, “Wow!” I’m like, “I know, right?”
In his Wired video, Serkis details the beginnings of motion capture in the medical industry and video games, giving special attention to his memorable first appearance on the scene and its subsequent evolution into “performance capture.” But there is a spot missing in this history, a hole that is quite glaring indeed to one actor in particular who feels the world should not forget his vital, crucial contribution to the world of computer cartoon characters.
Seasoned actor Lewis Macleod portrayed everyone’s favorite “love to hate him” Dug, the irascible Sebulba, as far back as 1999 in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. Perhaps you remember Sebulba? Podracing champion who “always wins” according to Watto (who always loses)? Whose podracer makes the most aggressive, wicked CHUNK CHUNK CHUNK CHUNK noise? Who twirls his long loose hanging head strings like villain mustaches? Who gets massages from those alien women with long pointed green head tails, who seem to always be in servant positions, like the one who danced against her will for Jabba the Hutt in Star Wars Episode 6: Return of the Jedi? Yes, I see it in how you are avoiding eye contact: you DO remember Sebulba. Perhaps, like me, you LOVE Sebulba.
Maybe you wake deep in the dark, wettest bowels of the night, bolt upright, sweat gushing forcefully from your pores like a human fountain – hot, thick sweat that falls heavy on to the sheets pasted all around your shaking, pulsating body. My god what a dream. Was it a dream? Were you there, on Tatooine, at the Boonta Eve race grounds? Were you there, with sand gusting in whorls and small tornadoes around your head, restless, as if an outward manifestation of your own deep unrest, your primal unsatisfied yearnings? Lord, this heat. This need for carnal contact. God damn, were you losing your mind? Why do you always get like this on Boonta Eve? You need it, NOW. A touch, a body… Then you see him. Loping obscenely toward you, walking on hands, feet up in the air.
Why do you always get like this on Boonta Eve?
Next thing you know he’s leaning his face in, inches from yours, his hot breath, smelling of thrown fish and possibly his own rectum. My god that rectum, like the Great Pit of Carkoon. His neck, the flesh, like microwaved beaver leather, throbs as blood rushes vehemently through his virile, ferocious, animal-like body. His sinewy feet-hands begin to move down, from your neck, dancing over your chest, tugging, exploring. His sausagy, shiny lips part and into your ear he exhales what sounds like “Goopa doopa” and you feel as though your heart will explode in your chest. The feet-hands begin undoing your belt buckle as you hear yourself moaning “sh-sh-shiskurny dopot, slaymo” as a white hot, gleaming
Oh, my excuse me, I beg your pardon. It seems I digressed a bit, a ha. Where did I leave off? Oh yes: Lewis Macleod, actor who portrayed the semenal role of Sebulba in The Phantom Menace, is duly irked that Andy Serkis has pointedly excluded Sebulba from his Wired video.
One of our ambitious interns, I forget which one but I think it’s the lad who always wears eye make up, was able to get Macleod on the phone for a comment:
HCK (intern): Mr. Macleod, how do you feel about Andy Serkis omitting Sebulba, and more importantly your contribution to mocap, from his video?
LM: I fink it’s right shit, I do. I fink it’s a tosser fing for him to do cuz he’s scared. He’s scared to look trufe in the face and find that people love Sebulba more deeply and in a like, Jungian way than any o’ the hunched, hairless goofballs he’s done over tha years.
HCK (intern): His King Kong from King Kong (2005) and Caesar from Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) weren’t exactly what you’d call hairless.
LM: Toss off ya lumper, ya know wot I mean. I mean Sebulba gots class for miles, moreso than most real-action acted characters do, even that Gene Hackman.
HCK (intern): Can you explain to our readers a bit of the process you went through in breathing so much real life into Sebulba for the Phantom Menace?
LM: Well first I did tha method actor thing, and spent many days on a hiking retreat with George [Lucas] talking about the character. His upbringing, his fears, his ambitions. Then I immersed myself inta this character, never once breaking out, tha entire 16 months we shot in Tunisia.
HCK (intern): And as for the motion capture process?
LM: I went in to this room with a microphone, right? Says me lines, then they used computers to make this lanky creature and they plays my voice at the same time he moves around on screen.
HCK (intern): Is that not just, voice-over?
LM: Well I fink that’s what they called it back in 1999, but terminology’s changed alot since. I just want me name in Wired videos, you know?
HCK (intern): We know Mr. Mcleod. God damn, we know. What other memorable experiences have you had in the glamorous world of bringing cartoons to life?
LM: Since then I get jobs ‘ere and there. Most recently I posed as Herman, the mascot for Kool Klench™ Bath Buddies™. That was a decent paycheck, went a long way down at the pub!
HCK (intern): Thank you.
LM: Thank you. Big fan of your website.
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