Born: Oct. 31, 1961
Birthplace: Wellington, New Zealand
Jackson undertook one of the most daunting tasks in Hollywood history—not just bringing J.R.R. Tolkien's beloved The Lord of the Rings to the silver screen successfully, but also creating three epic—and epically budgeted—films at the same time.
Shooting lasted an almost unheard-of 14 months, beginning on October 11, 1999, and ending December 22, 2000. Jackson had to direct seven camera crews working simultaneously across the country. All of New Zealand got behind the film effort—the prime minister even assigned a battalion of soldiers to participate in battle scenes. His efforts paid off. The filmed opened in December 2001 to critical raves, long lines at the box office, and a host of awards and nominations, including 13 Oscar nods.
Jackson's interest in filmmaking began when his parents got an 8mm camera. By the time he was twelve he had made his first film— a World War II movie complete with special effects—in his backyard. A decade later he made the first of many feature-length films. His partner, Frances Walsh, has collaborated with him on most of his films, which cover a broad spectrum of genres are typically character-driven.
He made his feature-film debut with Bad Taste (1987), a whacky horror film about flesh-eating aliens. He followed with Meet the Feebles (1989), a comedy about a puppet variety show gone horribly, horribly awry. Heavenly Creatures (1994) marked a dramatic shift from his earlier works and gained him attention in Hollywood. Based on a sensational murder case that took place in New Zealand in the 1950s, the film is an ethereal movie about teenage friendship, imagination, and obsession.