Directors People

Peter Jackson

peter jackson at comic con

Peter Jackson was born on October 31, 1961 in Wellington, New Zealand.  His parents were immigrants from England.  Their names are William and Joan.  He is a writer, producer and director.  He is well known for bringing The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy to movie audiences worldwide.  The success of his films earned him a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2014.  Peter Jackson is the third highest grossing director of all time.

Young Jackson was a fan of cinema in his youth.  His favorite film was King Kong (1933).  A family friend gave him a Super 8 camera when he turned nine.  Peter began experimenting with stop-motion models and made shorts with his friends.  He created The Valley (1976) at the age of fifteen.  The twenty-minute film was shown on a children’s show and won an award.  A year later he discovered J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings series after viewing the 1978 film The Lord of the Rings.  He left school during the same year and worked for a local newspaper called The Evening Post.  Peter spent seven years at the paper and saved his money to buy a 16 mm camera.

His investment in the camera paid dividends and he finished his first feature film Bad Taste in 1987.  Shooting took place on the weekends while he worked full-time.  It took years to complete and he received funding from the New Zealand Film Commission.  Bad Taste was released at the Cannes Film Festival and the rights were sold to twelve countries.  Peter Jackson spent some time writing a few screenplays and working on his follow up film Meet The Feebles (1989).  It was a musical black comedy that starred puppets.  In 1992 he directed Braindead with a three-million-dollar budget, but it was a box office bomb.  The movie is known as Dead Alive in North America.

Peter Jackson
Peter Jackson – Photo Credit: Natasha Baucas

Early Career

Jackson did not dwell on the failure and filmed his first serious film in 1994.  It was titled Heavenly Creatures and starred Kate Winslet.  It was well received by the critics and Peter was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.  Doors opened and he was hired to direct his first Hollywood backed film The Frighteners (1996).  Michael J. Fox was the highlight of the cast, but the supernatural comedy was considered a failure.  It received somewhat positive reviews that noted Jackson’s budding talent.

In 1997, the director won the rights to film The Lord of the Rings.  The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring was the first to hit the screens in 2001 and the rest is history.  The film is considered one of the most influential films made of all time and was nominated for thirteen Academy Awards.  It won four (Best Visual Effects, Best Makeup, Best Original Score and Best Cinematography).  The sequel The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) was released a year later.  It grossed close to a billion dollars and was nominated for six Academy Awards.  The movie won two for Best Visual Effects and Best Sound Editing.

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) concluded the trilogy and took the world by storm.  It was nominated for eleven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay.  The movie won all eleven.  The torrid success landed Peter Jackson the chance to direct his favorite childhood film.  King Kong was shown to audiences in 2005.  It was a critical hit and succeeded at the box office.

Peter Jackson and Steven Spielberg
Peter Jackson and Steven Spielberg – Photo Credit: Romain Brami

After The Lord of the Rings

Peter directed a short film in 2007 and adapted Alice Sebold’s bestseller The Lovey Bones in 2009.  It was a smaller project and a chance to recuperate from the stress of The Lord of the Rings.  It received mixed reviews, but was nominated for one Academy Award that it did not win.  The break was ephemeral and he returned to direct another J.R.R. Tolkien epic, The Hobbit.

The process was complicated and several delays occurred.  Guillermo del Toro was hired as the original director with Jackson as the writer.  Guillermo dropped out due to production delays and Peter took over the reins.  The story was split into the three films and the first part came to theaters in 2012.  It was titled The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.  The film grossed over one billion dollars, which was more than The Return of the King.  The sequels were released over the next two years and called The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013) and The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014).  They both grossed close to a billion and received several awards.

Jackson took a well-deserved break and returned in 2018 with the First World War Documentary They Shall Not Grow Old. The film utilized unseen footage and was critically acclaimed.  He is working on another documentary that follows the band The Beatles.  It is currently in post-production.

peter jackson at comic con
Peter Jackson at Comic Con – Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore

Peter Jackson is faithful to his longtime partner Fran Walsh.  She is also from New Zealand and a screenwriter, lyricist and film producer.  The couple has two children named Katie and Billy.  Jackson’s films are beloved and viewed by millions of people across the globe.

Peter Jackson Filmography

Bad Taste 1987
Meet the Feebles 1989
Heavenly Creatures 1994
The Frighteners 1996
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring 2001
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers 2002
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King 2003
King Kong 2005
The Lovely Bones 2009
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey 2012
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug 2013
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies 2014
They Shall Not Grow Old2018

“If you work at love, you will find love at work.”

-Peter Jackson
peter jackson with a fan
Peter with a fan – Photo Credit: 4nitsirk

4 comments on “Peter Jackson

  1. I need to check out that latest documentary. Fascinating life and career {I’m a huge “Lord of the Rings” fan!}!

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