Toby Kebbell on Motion Capture Roles: “You’re not really doing it for the glory. It’s more for the duty of performance”
I consider acting a craft. I’ve got to pay my shillings and present a masterpiece in order to get into the guild, but I’m just trying to learn what this craft is.” – Toby Kebbell
Toby Kebbell is one of the main stars of Warcraft, though you won’t actually see him on screen — well, at least not as he normally looks, anyway. Kebbell is portraying Durotan, a gigantic orc, in yet another motion capture role. An interview with Kebbell in The Daily Beast labels him “The Best Actor You May Never Recognize” and “the prince of motion capture,” for his performances, and asks him about working on Warcraft, working with Andy Serkis, and why he was so disappointed with Fantastic Four.
On one hand, Kebbell admits that primarily focusing on motion capture work has allowed him to remain in the public eye without being bombarded by fans. He points out, “I’ve never been recognized—which is a blessing. I get to play role after role. I’m very happy and I would love to continue that.”
Warcraft is the third motion capture film Kebbell has done for Legendary Entertainment, which gives Kebbell confidence that he’s doing something that audiences are responding to. He explains, “It’s actually really flattering, because they tend to consider they’ve chosen the best actor to do the CG role. They need someone they can rely on to keep giving them something. And it’s not very humble of me to say that perhaps they chose the best actor, but it’s flattering to think that you’re doing this to motor someone else’s artwork. You’re not really doing it for the glory. It’s more for the duty of performance.”
Though Kebbell is a favorite for motion capture roles, he still considers himself a novice when compared to his Dawn of the Planet of the Apes co-star Andy Serkis. He says, “The craft I’m trying to learn is apprentice to journeyman of motion capture. I’m in the journeyman phase. It’s an incredible craft—and it is a craft. I consider acting a craft. I’ve got to pay my shillings and present a masterpiece in order to get into the guild, but I’m just trying to learn what this craft is.”
One of the most disappointing roles that Kebbell had in recent years was in last year’s Fantastic Four. Kebbell played Doctor Doom in the much-maligned reboot, and is frustrated with the performance considering the work he put into the character. He recalls, “I spent so long figuring out an accent that was from the mid-Eastern block, generic enough to be a guy who then lived in America. I figured that out.” However, Kebbell points out that they had another actor stand in for him as Doom in numerous parts of the film, revealing, “Unfortunately. I played Doom in three points: Walking down a corridor, killing the doctor and getting into the time machine, and lying on the bench. They were the only times I played Doom. Everything else was some other guy, on some other day… doing some other thing. I was infuriated that he was allowed to limp like that!”