A BIG thanks to Philip O for transcribing this from ‘Skoop Magazine’:

Peter Jackson – “I make movies I would like to see myself.”

Interview published in SKOOP-November 2001.

Since he was a child, Peter Jackson is extremely attracted to everything that has to do with horror and/or fantasy. At the age of eighteen he made his first movie, “Bad Taste”, a real revelation. Jackson keeps going the same way and he makes “Meet The Feebles”, a kind of horror-version of The Muppet Show. In 1993, “Braindead” gets the Avoriaz-Award and recognition from the big studio’s, with “Heavenly Creatures” as a result. With Robert Zemeckis (Back To The Future) he realizes “The Frighteners”, and next month theaters all over the world will launch the first part of a fantastic trilogy: “The Lord Of The Rings”. Expectations are extremely high…

Did the idea of making a version of this cult-trilogy, that will be watched by thousands of critical fans, cause extra pressure ?

PJ: Sure. I am completely aware of the love that the audience has for the story, and I have tried to respect Tolkien’s oeuvre as close as possible. It is my interpretation, this means how I saw the characters when I read the book. I had to try to make a presentation of Tolkien’s characters and landscapes, and that is already fantastic.

Many fans see Tolkien’s oeuvre as the bible. Does this go for you as well ?

PJ: I really devoured the book when I was eighteen. When I was offered the chance to make the movie, I read it again, and I enjoyed it even more than the first time. The Lord Of The Rings is so complex and complete that you can only realize the wealth of the work after a few readings.

You also did see the screen version immediately as a trilogy. Was it easier to make three movies in one stride ?

PJ: It was not a matter of comfort, but of money; it just was cheaper. The labour itself was longer and more nerve-racking, because you have to prepare three movies before you begin filming.

The three movies have been shot in New-Zealand.

PJ: The studio- and outside-takes have all been made there. The landscapes in New-Zealand are simply overwhelming, the nature is really special. You can find everything there Tolkien described in his books.

You began making low budget “gore”-movies, and now Hollywood is at your feet. How do you experience this ?

PJ: I am a happy man; I do what I like to do. I make movies since I was young, and I got the chance to become a professional director. I never planned to work in Hollywood, but it is evident that, when I want to make movies with a big-budget, I need more money than I can get from the Filmcommission in New-Zealand. Hence the relation with Hollywood. But nevertheless I rather work and live in my own country.

Will you ever return to the horror-genre ?

PJ: Sure, I will always love these kind of movies. The desire exists, but it is time that I’m running short of right now. The Lord Of The Rings took me five years of my life, and it is simply not possible to combine that with anything else. But when this project is completely finished, I will certainly return to my old and first love.

You did work on this trilogy for a long time now. Can you still distance yourself from it?

PJ: Since the preparation and the filming took five years, and that is a pretty long time, you can take distance from it, because you don’t run around stressed all the time. You can stop, consider, reconsider, write and rewrite the screenplay. I would not feel as much satisfaction as I do now, if I had to make the movies in other circumstances.
Do you see yourself as a “cult”-director ?

PJ: I just do my job. I never said to myself “you are a cult-director”. I don’t make other movies as the ones I want to do myself and want to see myself. I’m a fan who loves making movies for his fans.

When we see your movies, we can immediately see that it is a “Peter Jackson”-movie. Now that you’ve made a movie where the story does not come from your hand, how did you put your personal touch to it ?

PJ: That isn’t so hard as it seems. The way you direct is relatively independent to the story. I made movies about all kinds of topics, but the style of directing, what you do with the camera, is always the choice of the director. In this case it isn’t different. I have tried to keep the same style that I developed in the past years.

You have made some movies that you cannot directly label “horrifying”, because they contain a lot of humor. Is that also the case for The Lord Of The Rings ?

PJ: I don’t think that I ever made a real Horror-movie. An sich they are comedies. I find it difficult to keep myself serious opposite to horror-movies. The Lord Of The Rings contains humoristic scenes as well, but above all, it is a trilogy with stunts, action, monsters and romance. Such a thing is very exciting to do, it has allowed me to do things I never did before, and to work on a genre that, in my opinion, never has been put to screen successfully.

Nowadays Fantasy-movies get easier distributed than earlier.

PJ: That’s true. The Fantasy-genre permits us to escape the daily reality. I don’t go to the movies to see situations that I live to see each day. I have to admit that some of these movies are sometimes really very good, but I want to see a movie that brings me far away from reality. And that’s what I try to do with my movies.