Page last updated at 17:36 GMT, Tuesday, 31 January 2006

Peter Jackson: Epic director

Peter Jackson beside King Kong poster
Jackson says the original King Kong inspired his interest in film-making

Director Peter Jackson, whose remake of King Kong was released at the end of 2005, is best known for his epic Lord of the Rings fantasy trilogy.

The ground-breaking and hugely popular trilogy - released between 2001 and 2003 - elevated him to A-list status in Hollywood.

The final instalment, The Return of the King, swept the board at the 2004 Academy Awards, netting 11 gold Oscar statuettes, and ensuring that his name went down in history as one of the most successful directors.

It was the pinnacle of a lifetime's fascination with film, which had started at a young age.

Amateur movies

The 44-year-old New Zealander began recording images on a super 8mm movie camera when he was eight, and was just 12 when he made his first film.

Heavenly Creatures (1994)
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)

He left school at 17 and began financing his amateur movie-making from his work at a newspaper in the New Zealand capital Wellington.

Then when he was 22, one film, a sci-fi comedy called Bad Taste, changed his life.

Shot at weekends only, it took four years to complete, as Jackson directed, produced, filmed and starred in a number of acting roles.

The film was awash with vomit and blood, but Jackson managed to persuade the chairman of the New Zealand Film Commission to take it to Cannes, where it was acclaimed by many critics and sold to 30 countries.

Big breakthrough

A couple of other films followed, but it was 1994's Heavenly Creatures that gave him his big breakthrough.

The film - about a famous New Zealand murder case from the 1950s - featured the then unknown Kate Winslet and local actress Melanie Lynskey.

Naomi Watts in still from King Kong
King Kong has received two Golden Globe nominations

Jackson and partner Fran Walsh were rewarded with an Oscar nomination for their original screenplay.

Refusing to relocate to the US, Jackson instead developed his Wellington special effects studio, Weta Studios.

In 1996 he released The Frighteners, starring Michael J Fox, and a few years later he and Walsh came up with the idea of adapting author JRR Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings.

He made the unprecedented decision to film all three parts in one 18-month shoot and his special effects team invented a new computer programme for the films' epic battle scenes.

Oscar recognition

The Fellowship of the Ring was released in December 2001 and became one of the biggest films in cinema history. The second film, The Two Towers, followed suit in 2002.

The two films received technical Oscars and other honours at the Golden Globes and Baftas in 2002 and 2003, but were overlooked in the creative categories.

However, final instalment The Return of the King - released at the end of 2003 - went on to win every category it was nominated for at the 2004 Academy Awards, scooping a total of 11 awards, including best picture and best director.

Soon after his Oscar success, Jackson began work on his remake of the 1933 classic King Kong, which he cites as being his biggest inspiration in film-making.

Its release, to critical acclaim, was the fruition of a project which he had first started to work on back in 1996.

Jackson is now turning his attention to his film version of the novel The Lovely Bones, after buying the rights to Alice Sebold's best-selling book about the murder and rape of a young girl.


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