Andy Serkis is no stranger to characters that share a body like irritable roommates. The mild-mannered English filmmaker and actor is beloved for his dual performance of Gollum and Smeágol in the Lord of the Rings films, two warring personalities inhabiting a single computer-generated body thanks to a visual effects crew that effectively invented modern motion capture performance in real time. This gives Serkis’ turn as director of Venom: Let There Be Carnage a delightfully twisted feeling of symmetry, steering the ship on another tale of man and CGI coming together to form two fleshed-out characters out of one actor’s performance.
In a lot of ways, it’s a bit like a marriage — specifically one in its Seven Year Itch phase, Serkis says. He describes it as “lockdown plus plus plus, with a seven-foot symbiote who’s driving you mad.”
“It’s this Odd Couple bizarre sort of bromance, where they truly do kind of need each other. They can’t be apart and yet they’re driving each other crazy in the apartment… [Venom] wants to go out and fulfill potential and you know, kill and eat people’s heads.”
Eddie (who, like Venom, is played by Tom Hardy), meanwhile, isn’t willing to pay much attention to the symbiote hiding in his skin because he’s too busy failing to win back his now-engaged ex Anne Weying (Michelle Williams), much to Venom’s disappointment.
“It’s a wonderful, complex, dysfunctional, screwed-up relationship,” Serkis says of the Brock-Venom union. “Much like most of us have with our partners after we’ve been with them for some time.”
It isn’t, however, the only pairing in the film. While Let There Be Carnage is resolutely an action film — and a very funny one at that — it’s also tightly paced and built around three central relationships: Brock and Venom, Anne and her fiancé Dan (Veep’s Reid Scott, returning from the first film), and new villains Cletus Kasady/Carnage and Frances Barrison/Shriek (Naomie Harris). And since Venom and Eddie are the heroes, one wonders what could the other couples — or all couples, really — learn from them?
“It’s good therapy,” Serkis said. “[Venom’s] a good therapist. I mean, I think the thing is that they don’t need an outside counselor because Venom is very good at being the kind of ‘relate’ person, I think.”
Really, it’s beautiful advice for couples young and old across the spectrum of love and sexuality: Find yourself a living alien symbiote you can bond and share a body with, who will argue with you about your love life while you argue with them about eating brains. And hopefully, the two of you don’t spawn a second, more murderous symbiote that doesn’t have either of your charms.