Andy Serkis made a surprise appearance in Disney+’s “Star Wars” show “Andor” when he showed up as Cassian Andor‘s inmate Kino Loy. But it wasn’t just a little cameo or even a one-off guest appearance. Instead, he featured significantly in the show’s best arc.
Diego Luna‘s Cassian wound up in prison on Narkina 5 while on the run from Empire officials. There, he was swiftly put to work in a nightmarish work-till-you-drop environment. Serkis’ Kino was a fellow inmate tasked with being a floor manager to keep productivity high. At first, Kino was gruff and stuck to the book but as Andor helped to reveal the corruption and unavoidable doom of the prison, Kino warmed up to Cassian and eventually created a plan to break out with him. In the end, Kino was instrumental in helping Cassian and his fellow inmates escape.
In episode nine, we see the completion of Kino’s arc as he realizes the truth of their situation and agrees to help Cassian. The moment at the end of the episode where Kino finally tells Cassian the information he needs to escape is both chilling and oh-so-satisfying. Then, in episode 10, we get to see Kino take center stage as he brutally organizes the escape and makes a powerful speech to his fellow inmates to fight and flee.
What took this performance — and character — to the next level, however, was his final moment. As the inmates escape, they realize they are towering above an ocean and must jump in and swim to shore to make their getaway. In what is one of the most cruelly ironic and devastating moments in all of “Star Wars,” Kino tells Cassian “I can’t swim.” Serkis’ delivery in this moment is perfect and he makes audiences care so much about a character who we initially didn’t care for and who, in the grand scheme of things, doesn’t matter all that much. But in that moment, Serkis made the character matter more than anything.
It was a wonderful arc for Serkis and a welcome return to “Star Wars” for the actor after his brief tenure in the sequel trilogy as Supreme Leader Snoke was cut short in “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.” This time, we got to see Serkis without mo-cap make-up and were treated to a complex performance befitting a complex character and a terrific actor. Serkis, therefore, deserves a nomination for Best Drama Supporting Actor — and critics agree.
Andrew King from The Gamer wrote that Serkis gave the performance of his life in “Andor.” “Serkis’ wonderfully expressive face, his greatest asset as a motion capture performer, sells the character’s transformation,” King wrote. “Serkis plays each step of this journey to note perfection… It’s a wonderfully emotional performance.”
GamesRadar’s Bradley Russell, meanwhile, declared that the “magnetic” Serkis stole the entire show, again hailing his facial expressions as Serkis’ greatest strength: “Many will know Serkis for his motion capture and CGI work on ‘The Lord of the Rings’ and ‘Planet of the Apes.’ On this evidence, it could be one of the industry’s greatest disappointments that he hasn’t been given the chance to couple his groundbreaking mo-cap performances with a really meaty live-action role such as the one provided by Kino.”
And CBR’s Robert Vaux also hailed Serkis’ performance, calling it a joy to see Serkis’ strengths as an actor without the CGI or mo-cap makeup: “With Serkis, it has the ideal actor to deliver on it, with a character as far from Snoke as one can get. Stripping away the CGI — which appears counterintuitive at first — reveals just how strong a performer Serkis has always been. Even at its best, the technology still relies on a good actor to sell the character. With Kino, Serkis aptly demonstrates why, and delivers the character both he and ‘Andor’ deserve in the process.”
Currently, Serkis sits outside our current slate of Matthew Macfadyen (“Succession”), Kieran Culkin (“Succession”), Giancarlo Esposito (“Better Call Saul”), F. Murray Abraham (“The White Lotus”), and Matt Smith (“House of the Dragon”), John Lithgow (“The Old Man”), Jonathan Pryce (“The Crown”), and “Andor” co-star Stellan Skarsgård. Serkis deserves to be on that list as he proves yet again what a formidable force he is as a performer. His only Emmy nomination came in 2009 (for Best Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or TV Movie for “Little Dorrit”). It’s time to change that.
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