Meet the F/X mind behind ''Lord of the Rings''
If the Academy had an award for Best Achievement in Elf-Sword Construction, ”The Lord of the Rings”’ go-to guru Richard Taylor would be one of this year’s few sure things. But for now, he’ll have to make do with nabbing co-nominations in three painstaking categories. A cofounder of the New Zealand-based F/X firm Weta Ltd., Taylor, 37, first collaborated with ”Rings” director Peter Jackson as a puppet maker on 1989’s ”Meet the Feebles.” Now, on the ”Rings” trilogy, he’s the token Tolkien expert, responsible for keeping the author’s vision consistent throughout. ”Jackson gave me the opportunity to look over as many departments as possible,” says Taylor, who schooled himself in the books before undertaking what’s been, so far, a five-year project. ”And it allowed us to put a singular Tolkien brushstroke on the film and create a cohesive world.”
In addition to the duties that made him one of two triple nominees this year (Jackson is the other), Taylor oversaw design of the film’s armor, weapons, and miniatures. And though he’s not a betting man, the first-time nominee is particularly fond of his makeup nod: ”You’re dealing with and interacting with the actors at the highest level,” he says. ”And to complement their performance is a real trip.” Not that the wizard hat trick has gone to Taylor’s head. ”We’re relaxed people down in New Zealand,” he says. ”We’ve got work to get on with.”