Checking in with Peter Jackson
Peter Jackson, taking a vacation? Hard to imagine, but the director — who bounced from one F/X-heavy project (The Lord of the Rings trilogy) to another (King Kong) — recently spent some time tooling down the West Coast with his family. Still, it’s no surprise the workhorse is already gearing up for two new projects: First, he’ll co-write and direct an adaptation of Alice Sebold’s best-selling novel The Lovely Bones, about a murdered girl who watches over her family from heaven; then he’ll exec-produce Halo, a film version of the addictive Xbox game. We called Jackson in New Zealand to chat about those films, plus the King Kong DVD (due March 28).
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How long had it been since you got some time off with your family?
PETER JACKSON: Our studio is only five minutes away from our house, so we often have the kids come down and spend time with us when we’re working, or we come home. But in terms of taking a family vacation — we took a vacation between Lord of the Rings and Kong — but it had been a couple of years since we had a proper trip. In terms of breaks between projects, this is the first time in 10 years that Fran [Walsh] and I — my partner who I write and produce with — [have] had a break between deadlines. Lord of the Rings and King Kong — that really was our last 10 years. So we were finally able to take a break, and we’re obviously working on some scripts and some ideas for future projects, which is fun, but it’s good to feel we’ve stepped off the industry treadmill for a while.
I’m guessing The Lovely Bones will be a quieter kind film… What’s going to happen to your F/X army at Weta Digital in the meantime?
They’ll be okay. There’s obviously Halo that they’ll be doing. But at the moment, they’re working on a film called Hold the Water Horse, which is a Loch Ness monster movie that Walden Media are making. They’ve been doing a few hundred shots for X-Men 3, so they’re doing fine. Fortunately, we’ve reached a point now where we can step away and the facilities that we’ve created down here are busy. We’ve created enough reputation for quality and cost-effectiveness as well in terms of what we do that we’re certainly very much open for business, for doing trick shots for other people’s films now. We’re bidding on a lot of jobs; there’s a steady stream of work coming through. That’s been a relief for us, and it’s given us the ability to take some time and recharge ourselves creatively.
How do you envision your version of Bones?
It’s a challenge. It’s a fascinating book, it’s a very personal, emotional book — not just for Alice Sebold, who wrote it, but obviously to each reader. I think every reader has a different response to it, in a sense. It affects you in a very deep and profound way, and to analyze that and to interpret that and to make it and structure it as it needs to be as a film is an interesting puzzle. Which is one of the fun parts about filmmaking, you know, the script-writing and the solving of those puzzles is really interesting. We’re having a good time at the moment. It’s nice to be able to wake up every day and to do The Lovely Bones script. It’s an enjoyable thing to do.
I’m particularly excited to see how you imagine the little girl in heaven…
Yes, well, I’m interested too. We’ll have to wait and see what happens, we’re still discussing all sorts of different ways and ideas of doing that. I want it to be surprising, though. I don’t want it to be clichéd and what you would expect it to be. We’ve got some interesting ideas that we’re exploring, we’re right in middle of that process of talking about how we would to that. And I think what the solution is going to be is one that will surprise people.
Can we expect an extended version of Kong on DVD in the future?
I hope so — that’s very much up to Universal. Obviously, doing an extended cut of Kong is expensive…. Every extra minute of film that you add, you’re adding potentially another 20 or 30 more visual effects shots. So I think Universal are getting their heads around all that. We’re figuring out what the sequences could be, because we do have a lot of really great scenes that we didn’t put into the movie — some very very exciting dinosaur sequences — so I’m hoping there will be an extended cut.