Last year's co-host campaigns for his ''Rise of the Planet of the Apes'' co-star

By Keith Staskiewicz
December 30, 2011 at 05:00 AM EST

Some of the best reviews this year went to an actor who never fully appeared on screen. Andy Serkis won plaudits for his motion-capture performance as Caesar, the research primate-turned-revolutionary in this summer’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Yet his name isn’t coming up too often this awards season — so far only the Broadcast Film Critics Association has listed him among their Best Actor nominees. And that doesn’t bode too well for Serkis’ Academy Award prospects, much to the chagrin of his Apes costar James Franco. ”To me, it seems like such a shame that Andy doesn’t get recognized now, because this is the moment when he’s really broken through,” Franco says. ”[Motion capture] is still fresh, and he’s doing it better than anyone else on the planet.” Franco points out that the Academy has nominated actors using heavy traditional makeup — like John Hurt for his facially obscured role in The Elephant Man (1980) — and suggests that digitally enhanced performances shouldn’t be treated any differently. Serkis was at the center of the first big debate on this subject a decade ago, when critics wondered if his iconic turn as the ghoulish Gollum in the Lord of the Rings series would earn him an Oscar nomination. It didn’t. That snub might have a renewed sting today, since the character’s return is being used as a money moment in the new trailer for The Hobbit. ”What he does is real acting,” says Franco of Serkis, who has earned Emmy, Golden Globe, and BAFTA nominations for his nondigital film and TV work. ”I got to work opposite Andy the whole time on the actual sets. We were back to one actor acting opposite another — it was just that one of us was playing a chimpanzee.”