There was almost no dialogue in yesterday’s first Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer. It was very much a teaser, a mood piece that mixed a first look at the film’s cast with some gorgeous imagery and a brand-new bit of John Williams score. But helping to set that mood was a short but effective bit of voiceover narration. An ominous voice declared, “There has been an awakening. Have you felt it? The Dark Side…and the Light.” It was creepy as hell, but it also posed a mystery: just who was it that was speaking, both in terms of the actor and the character? Well, now we may have an answer…about the first part, at least. Here’s the trailer so you can hear the voice in question again.
Many had been speculating that the narrator might be Benedict Cumberbatch. It does sound a bit like him. It’s definitely not an exact match, but it reminded me a bit of his Khan narration in the Star Trek Into Darkness trailers. Plus, his possible involvement in The Force Awakens is one of those stubborn rumors that just refuses to die, and he has obviously worked with director J.J. Abrams before. But no dice: according to HitFix, the voice actually belongs to motion-capture maestro Andy Serkis.
With everybody wondering about a possible Cumberbatch sighting (hearing?), HitFix’s Drew McWeeny took the question to unnamed sources and reported back that:
For the record, that is Andy Serkis you hear in the trailer. I was able to verify this, although I was not able to uncover any further information about the role he plays. Here’s what I do know, though. He’s playing a pivotal role in the film, although he will not have a lot of screen time.
It’s not a voice I would have initially connected to Serkis, but listening back again, I can hear it. The dude’s obviously skilled at voices, having given us both Gollum and the Planet of the Apes movies’ Caesar. Here’s Serkis as Caesar:
We’re going to discuss some of the Force Awakens rumors below, so don’t scroll down if you’re trying to avoid spoilers!
Assuming HitFix is right and the narrator is Serkis — and I think they probably are — that still leaves the huge question of who he’s playing. The latest rumors suggest that Adam Driver is playing the son of Han and Leia, that his fall to the Dark Side will make him one of the villains of the new trilogy, and that The Force Awakens will lead up to some sort of confrontation between Driver’s character and Luke Skywalker, who has been missing for most of the 30 years since the events of Return of the Jedi. Serkis’ character is a total mystery at this point, but given how menacing his voice is, he’s almost certainly a bad guy. Serkis may very well be playing an Emperor-style menace in Episodes VIII and IX, with a newly Sith-ified Driver as his apprentice.
Of course it’s all just speculation at this point, but we’re definitely intrigued to to find out, and to discover if his Force Awakens role will be mo-capped or if he’ll be giving us the rare Serkis performance where we actually get to see the guy on screen.
Below you can see Serkis talking about the challenge of finding Caesar’s voice for the Apes films. It’s a reminder of just how much of a dedicated craftsman he is, so the knowledge that he’ll be bringing a new Star Wars character to life just makes us all the more excited for The Force Awakens.