The actor behind the Gollum character in the "Lord of the Rings" (search) trilogy isn't monkeying around as he prepares for his next role as King Kong (search) in a remake of the classic gorilla thriller.

Andy Serkis (search), who was the human model for the creepy computer animated "Gollum" in the films by New Zealand director Peter Jackson, has been hanging out with gorillas in Rwanda to prepare for the role, a co-star in the upcoming film said.

"He's extraordinary, the amount of research he's done," Australian actress Naomi Watts, who will play the heroine in the new movie, was quoted by the Dominion Post newspaper in Monday's edition. "He brought back incredible tapes of all that (gorilla) behavior that we need to get very familiar with."

Serkis provided the voice for Gollum and Jackson used his movements to create the computer-generated character.

Watts, Serkis, offbeat comedy actor Jack Black (search) and Oscar winner Adrien Brody (search) have begun rehearsals in the New Zealand capital Wellington and will begin shooting within days in preparation for a release in late 2005.

Set in 1930's New York, the movie will be filmed almost entirely on a back lot in Wellington.