Sir Peter Robert Jackson ONZ KNZM (born 31 October 1961) is a New Zealand filmmaker and screenwriter. He is best known as the director and producer of The Lord of the Rings trilogy (2001–03) and The Hobbit trilogy (2012–14), both of which are adapted from the novels of the same name by J. R. R. Tolkien. Other notable films include the drama Heavenly Creatures (1994), the mockumentary Forgotten Silver (1995), the horror comedy The Frighteners (1996), the epic monster film King Kong (2005) and the supernatural drama film The Lovely Bones (2009). He also produced District 9 (2009), The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn (2011) and the documentary West of Memphis (2012).
Jackson began his career with the “splatstick” horror comedy Bad Taste (1987) and the black comedy Meet the Feebles (1989) before filming the zombie comedy Braindead (1992). He shared a nomination for Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay with his partner Fran Walsh for Heavenly Creatures, which brought him to mainstream prominence in the film industry. Jackson has been awarded three Academy Awards in his career, including the award for Best Director in 2003, and has been nominated for nine Academy Awards overall. He has also received a Golden Globe, four Saturn Awards and three BAFTAs amongst others.
His production company is Wingnut Films, and his most regular collaborators are co-writers and producers Walsh and Philippa Boyens. Jackson was made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2002. He was later knighted (as a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit) by Anand Satyanand, the Governor-General of New Zealand, at a ceremony in Wellington in April 2010. In December 2014, Jackson was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Jackson was born on 31 October 1961 in Wellington and was raised at the nearby coastal town of Pukerua Bay. His parents—Joan (née Ruck), a factory worker and housewife, and William “Bill” Jackson, a wages clerk—were both immigrants from England. Bill Jackson was a veteran of the Siege of Malta in World War II.
As a child, Jackson was a keen film fan, growing up on Ray Harryhausen films, as well as finding inspiration in the television series Thunderbirds and Monty Python’s Flying Circus. After a family friend gave the Jacksons a Super 8 cine-camera with Peter in mind, he began making short films with his friends. Jackson has long cited King Kong as his favourite film, and around the age of nine he attempted to remake it using his own stop-motion model. Also, as a child Jackson made a WWII epic called “The Dwarf Patrol” seen on the Bad Taste bonus disc which featured his first special effect of poking pinholes in the film for gun shots, and a James Bond spoof named Coldfinger Most notable though was a 20-minute short called The Valley, which won him a special prize because of the shots he used.
In school, Jackson expressed no interest in sports. His classmates also remember him wearing a duffle coat with “an obsession verging on religious”. He had no formal training in film-making, but learned about editing, special effects and make-up largely through his own trial and error. As a young adult, Jackson discovered the work of author J. R. R. Tolkien after watching The Lord of the Rings (1978), an animated film by Ralph Bakshi that was a part-adaptation of Tolkien’s fantasy trilogy. When he was 16 years old, Jackson left school and began working full-time as a photo-engraver for a Wellington newspaper, The Evening Post. For the seven years he worked there, Jackson lived at home with his parents so he could save as much money as possible to spend on film equipment. After two years of work Jackson bought a 16 mm camera, and began shooting a film that later became Bad Taste.
Since 1987, he has been married to Fran Walsh MNZM (born 10 January 1959), a New Zealand screenwriter, film producer and lyricist. They have two children: Billy (born 1995) and Katie (born 1996). Fran Walsh has contributed to all of Jackson’s films since 1989: as co-writer since Meet the Feebles, and as producer since The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. She won three Academy Awards in 2003, for Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Original Song, all for The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. She has received seven Oscar nominations.
Jackson is an avid aviation enthusiast and owns a collection of over 40 flyable World War I-era warbirds housed at Hood Aerodrome near Masterton.