Watch: Andy Serkis discusses playing Alfred in The Batman
Andy Serkis has revealed that one of the unexpected joys of playing Alfred Pennyworth in The Batman was being able to work with director Matt Reeves while "wearing a pair of trousers".
Serkis has become accustomed to performing for Reeves while wearing a motion-capture suit to play ape leader Caesar in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and War for the Planet of the Apes.
But in The Batman (in IMAX and cinemas from 4 March, with IMAX previews on 3 March) he portrays Bruce Wayne's assistant Alfred Pennyworth and helps the young vigilante as he attempts to find his identity as the Caped Crusader.
Serkis said: "In a way, when Matt and I first talked about it, he said: 'Look Andy, I've watched you all these years and seen your performance and then seen the performance become a digital mask. I just want to be able to put you on screen as yourself and work with your character, as you say, wearing a pair of trousers'."
Serkis revealed that Reeves first approached him about the role when the duo were in post-production on War for the Planet of the Apes and the actor was "thrilled" to be in the conversation.
The 57-year-old said: "I knew he was going to land the story at a particular moment in Batman's journey — the very early stages of him finding the Batman and pushing against his past and pushing against Alfred.
"So it was a really interesting dynamic to be had out of their relationship."
The star revealed that the changed dynamic between Alfred and Bruce allowed him to step out of the shadow of other portrayals of the character, including Michael Caine in the Christopher Nolan Dark Knight trilogy.
Serkis said he "felt very connected to the back-story" of this Alfred, who had been injured during military service before becoming assigned to the Wayne family.
He added: "He was a soldier and then he was disabled from being a soldier through fighting, hence the cane and the scars on his face. Then he became part of the secret service and then the security team looking after Wayne Enterprises, then the failure to carry that out and the guilt that he carries with him.
"All of this which, from Bruce's point of view, is something that he no longer trusts, believes, cares for and wants to throw out in a way.
"I suppose what was interesting about the character for me was that he is a man of logic and rules and law and not a man of emotions — not able to fill the void of being a father figure for Bruce.
"A mentor and a teacher, but certainly not a father figure, which is what he knows obviously that [Bruce] needs the most."
The Batman picks up Bruce Wayne in the second year of his vigilante career, teaming with Gotham cop Jim Gordon (Jeffrey Wright) to investigate a spate of murders carried out by the mysterious Riddler (Paul Dano).
Early reviews for the movie have praised its grit and visual style, with aggregator Rotten Tomatoes currently showing an 86% approval rating from critics.
The site's consensus reads: "A grim, gritty, and gripping super-noir, The Batman ranks among the Dark Knight's bleakest — and most thrillingly ambitious — live-action outings."
The Batman is in IMAX and cinemas from 4 March, with IMAX previews from 3 March.
Watch: Trailer for The Batman