In light of Andy Serkis’ stellar turn as ape leader Caesar in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, there have been calls for a groundbreaking Oscar nod for the motion capture star.
Joel Draba-Mann takes a look at ten other standout performances involving non-human characters.
The Genie (Aladdin)
Performance: Robin Williams
Who can forget Williams’ memorable voice performance as the enigmatic blue Genie in Disney’s Aladdin? Full of quotable lines, it is remarkable to think that most of Genie’s dialogue is entirely improvised. Controversially, it was this brilliant off-the-cuff wit that led Disney producers to give far more screen time to the character than Williams had actually signed up for.
Falkor (The Neverending Story)
Performance: Alan Oppenhiemer
Who would have thought the voice of Skeletor would also be behind this huggable flying luckdragon? Unlike others in their genus, luckdragons don’t possess immense strength or great magic, but I’ll be damned if they’re won’t win you a bet or two…
Clyde (Every Which Way But Loose)
Clint Eastwood plays a street brawler on a road trip, pursued by a revengeful motorcycle gang. Manis plays his lax orangutan pal, Clyde. Famously, Manis became enraged with his co-star’s performance during a take and grabbed Eastwood by the neck, only for his trainers to calm him down over two-way radio (Manis that is, not Eastwood). That’s method actors for you…
Baxter (Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy)
Performance: Peanut the Dog
Hairy buddha. Friend of bears. Long-term antagonist of Jack Black. Despite being a relative newcomer to the acting industry, Peanut more than held his own against his well-established co-stars in this comedy classic.
Performance: Howie Mandel
Gizmo is the only mogwai not intent on ruining Christmas through a trail of terror and destruction. The cute little fella’s starring turn in cult-classic Gremlins captured the hearts of fans the world over. Interestingly enough, voice actor Mandel would go on to host Canada’s very own Deal or No Deal.
Shadow (Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey)
Performance: Don Ameche & Ben
If Ben’s performance as wise, old golden retriever Shadow in family favourite Homeward Bound doesn’t stir you to tears, then it is fair to assume you are completely devoid of human emotion. The interplay between this superb ensemble of animal stars is every bit as unforgettable and as innovative as the cast of (ahem) Reservoir Dogs.
The Worms (Men in Black)
Performance: Brad Abrell, Thom Fountain, Carl Johnson, Drew Massey
When Will Smith’s Agent J gets into trouble, who does he call? No, not Ghostbusters, but a quartet of Annelids from the planet Takwella. What’s an Annelid? It’s a perverted, bag-pipe playing, coffee-addicted worm. Give these four starring roles in the next Hangover…
E.T. (E.T: The Extra-Terrestrial)
Performance: Pat Bilon
On the subject of endearing aliens, while on the run from the police for committing Grand Theft Auto on a child’s bicycle, Pat Bilon manages to warm our cockles as the wrinkled, loveable hero with an engrossing performance beaming with affection.
Bart (The Great Outdoors)
Performance: Bart the Bear
Bart was a seasoned screen veteran, having worked alongside such household names as Alec Baldwin, Dan Aykroyd, Anthony Hopkins and Steven Seagal during an illustrious career. All were, reportedly, very impressed with the methods Bart used to get into character.
Sadly, Bart passed away in 2001 during filming for biopic Growing Up Grizzly, released posthumously some time later.
Jack (Pirates of the Caribbean)
Performance: Tara, Levi, Chiquita and Pablo
Caesar isn’t the only primate with impressive capabilities. It took four monkey pals to co-perform the role of Captain Barbossa’s undead capuchin, Jack. Considered the meanest, most heartless monkey in the pirating trade, the quartet more than hold their own amongst the likes of Johnny Depp and Geoffrey Rush.