JACKSON Sir Peter
Sir Peter Jackson may not be one for making great political statements but now he wears his art on his sleeve.
Last year he and a man he helped free from death row in the US got matching tattoos.
Sir Peter and his partner Fran Walsh were instrumental in three men who had been wrongly jailed for the murders of three eight-year-old scouts being freed. Sir Peter and Ms Walsh privately funded an investigation that led to their release. One of the trio – Damien Echols – subsequently came to New Zealand, where the tattoos were inked.
That Sir Peter also made a documentary about the case (it’s called West of Memphis and screens at the International Film Festival this month) is no surprise: he’s been filming things since he got his first super 8mm camera at the age of eight.
His latest works include The Adventures of Tintin – which received mixed reviews and The Hobbit, the first part of which is due to screen later this year.
Sir Peter, dubbed the “cinema wizard” by the Chicago Tribune, has been maintaining a peripatetic pace between New Zealand and Los Angeles but is further securing his Wellington roots. Purchases in the capital this year include the Bats Theatre – which he and Ms Walsh saved from demise – and the original car from the film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Sir Peter plans to use the car for charity purposes.
His business interests, including Weta Workshop and Weta Digital, continue to thrive.
Last year, a tussle with Actors Equity over potential threats to The Hobbit saw personal intervention from Prime Minister John Key, which resulted in tax breaks to Warner Brothers and a change to the laws governing contract work. Complaints to the Ombudsman ensued and, in April former economic development minister Gerry Brownlee released a series of documents relating to the controversial deal. Sir Peter received no special treatment from the government to keep production of The Hobbit here, Mr Brownlee said.