‘Lord of the Rings’ director Peter Jackson blesses determination, smiling and fate

At first glance, it is hard to imagine that Peter Jackson is the one responsible for the sensational visualization of J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic trilogy «The Lord of the Rings.» Short, chubby and dishevelled, he has a relatively small body of work to display – his credits include films such as 1994’s «Heavenly Creatures,» starring Kate Winslet. The 41-year-old Jackson looks more like a fisherman in his native country New Zealand (he was born in Pukerua Bay, North Island) than the director of one of the most ambitious cinematic projects of all times. On the occasion of the premiere of «The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers,» the second part of the trilogy (worldwide screenings began yesterday), Kathimerini met with the filmmaker in Paris. The director talked with great precision about his experiences during the making of the three-part cinematic saga. Did you ever think about how you landed such a big project? The truth is that if there was a list of potential directors for the «Lord of the Rings,» my name would be right at the bottom of it. When the initial idea began to take shape, however, it was just a matter of determination, fate and the ability to smile on a few difficult occasions. Ever since I was a child, I wanted to make movies, only each one was more complicated than the previous one. I consider myself a lucky man for having had the opportunity to make «The Lord of the Rings» on such a big budget and in this particular way – which is shooting all three films simultaneously. As far as I’m concerned, however, I don’t feel any different from the child who used to make Super 8 films. Did you ever feel that you wouldn’t make it? That was not a problem because, even before we brought out the cameras, we had already gone through three years of thorough preparation. The problem was that as the date for going on location approached, I was actually tired of the preparation work. Why did you avoid an opening that would link the two films in «The Two Towers?» I felt that all those who are going to see «The Two Towers» will have already seen «The Fellowship of the Ring.» There is no doubt that a few people will not have seen the first part of the trilogy, but my understanding is that this is bound to be a small minority and that their friends will step in and fill in all the gaps. In this way, I developed the following theory: After watching «The Fellowship of the Ring,» we had a break in order to get some pop-corn – only the break lasted for 12 months – and then we asked the technician to play the next roll of film. During this long period of shooting successive films, have you had any time at all to spend with your family? I am going to stop working for 10 days at Christmas, and that pretty much describes my vacation plans the last few years. I could take a few weeks off just before «The Return of the King» gets into the post-production phase, but I’m not going to. As long as you are involved with something, there is always room for improvement and I’m planning to dedicate as much time as possible to do the best I can. As far as my family is concerned, I try to take some of the work back home with me so that I can spend time with my children. Alternatively, I often take the kids with me on the set, which is something they enjoy as they can follow what is going on. Do you ever go back to your old films? I never watch my films after I’ve finished working on them. I have never watched any of these films, but I will one day. I only watch them when they hit the screen, like this last one, as I always attend the premieres. I will go back to them much later, however, when my mind is cleared of them. Are you worried that you might be classified as a director of imaginary cinema? No, because I’m not hanging out in Hollywood waiting for studio executives to assign me a film. I live, and will continue to live, in New Zealand and carry on making the films I want. I was never a place-an-order kind of director – and I never will be. This interview was translated from the original Greek text.

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