Andy Serkis has vowed to continue acting, as he premiered to the world his first film as a director.
The actor who played The Lord Of The Rings’ Gollum debuted his first completed movie in the director’s chair at Toronto International Film Festival on Monday.
Breathe stars Claire Foy and Andrew Garfield as Diana Blacker and Robin Cavendish, a British couple who first fought for Cavendish’s freedom when he was paralysed by polio and then for the rights of others.
Serkis, 53, told the Press Association that he would continue to act, saying: “Absolutely, I want to do both but at the moment I’m focusing on directing.”
He added: “It’s a wonderful feeling to finally complete a movie… to actually have a film finished and out there and people are going to be watching it is very thrilling.”
Serkis first began directing Jungle Book, an upcoming adaptation showcasing his motion capture performance work, but it will be released next year because of the demanding editing it requires.
His previous experience also includes being a second unit director on the Hobbit trilogy.
Breathe’s producer is Serkis’s business partner Jonathan Cavendish, who is the son of the film’s protagonists. He said having Serkis as director was a “dream”.
Golden Globe-winner Foy, 33, who is up for an Emmy on Sunday for The Crown, praised Serkis as a natural director.
She said: “It wasn’t like it was his debut, it felt like he’d done it a thousand times before.
“He’s so assured and confident and just trusts his instincts and is so compassionate of actors and he’s got such a massive heart that it really felt like he was doing it with us.”
Garfield, 34, said he was a “wonderful” director, adding that he is a “double threat” because of his background studying fine art.
Robin Cavendish was struck with polio in Kenya at the age of 28 and was told he would spend the rest of his numbered days in an “iron lung”.
But with the help of his wife he left the hospital and aided by his Oxford professor friend, Teddy Hall, developed a wheelchair with a in-built respirator in 1962 to allow him more freedom.
He then fundraised so others could have the same machine and became one of the longest-surviving people on a respirator in Britain.
Their son, who co-owns The Imaginarium production company with Serkis, described them as “ordinary people who became extraordinary by being dealt a blow that would have destroyed most people”.
:: Breathe is released in UK cinemas on October 4.