In a recent interview with Australia’s Daily Telegraph, director Peter Jackson discussed his decision to take on “The Hobbit,” trying to constantly improve on set, and what his future holds.
Before director Guillermo del Toro had to withdraw from “The Hobbit,” Peter Jackson was a producer and writer on the project. “I thought it would be interesting to have a different sensibility directing the movie so you’d have somebody else’s version of a Middle Earth story,” Jackson said. “But by the time Guillermo left and we were wondering what to do, I just thought, ‘Well, I can imagine the version of The Hobbit that I’d like to see.’
“It’s not necessarily the film he was going to make, but being part of the production for so long, at that point I’d sort of admitted to myself into the film to such a degree that it was fine to take over, I was completely OK with it.”
As “Lord of the Rings” alumni Elijah Wood and Orlando Bloom have both mentioned, returning to Middle-earth to film “The Hobbit” is like a family reunion. Jackson commented, “We’ve got largely the same crew and quite a few of the same cast, so it was a reunion of sorts, which was kind of fun.”
And though the long days on set have been gruelling, the “Hobbit” actors have bonded in much the same way that they did on “The Lord of the Rings.” Jackson explained, “Everybody’s gotten to know each other very, very well and the spirit’s great. I just believe when you’re shooting a movie to have the atmosphere on set be friendly, and focused on the work, but have some fun.
“It’s a long time to be getting up early in the morning and working ’til late at night, and if you’re not enjoying it, you’re not going to make a good film. There has to be a spirit on set amongst the cast and the crew that will ultimately rub off on the screen. We’re having fun.”
In another career, the inclination might be to just go through the motions, but Jackson is constantly trying to improve. “I tell you what I always try and do—I try to think of how I can do things better,” he said. “I always show up on set in the morning and I’m constantly thinking, ‘OK, this is what we need to do, let’s set it up, let’s look at the camera angle, let’s rehearse… Now, how do I improve this?’
His work ethic and attention to detail are just two of the things that make him an exceptional director. According to Jackson, “To me, there’s never anything that’s perfect. Anything you do or imagine can always be made better.” This is one reason he is famous for having actors do numerous takes. “If an actor does a take and it looks good, before I move on to the next shot I’m going to think to myself, ‘Is there anything I can think of how we could improve it and do one more take?’
“I try to always keep that process in my head, saying, ‘Don’t settle for anything, always push, push, push,’ which makes for an interesting day. It makes for a tiring day, but it certainly keeps me on my toes.”
When asked about future projects in the works, Jackson laughed, saying, “The only project is really lying in bed with a good book… which I’m looking forward to doing in 2014.” The exhausted director clarified, “You get to a point where you’ve got quite enough on your plate, and psychologically I’ve got to think there’ll be a little break at some point. So the main project I’m going to focus on at the moment is getting the movies done and making sure they’re as good as they can possibly be, then taking a little bit of a break before… whatever happens.”
Jackson doesn’t know what the future will hold for him after “The Adventures of Tintin” and “The Hobbit.” He said, “I find it’s more interesting to go through the years not really having too much of a forward plan. Movies take a long time to make; it’s probably a minimum of two years to make a regular film – obviously longer in the case of ‘Tintin’ or ‘The Hobbit.’ But you don’t want to have the next 10 years mapped out.”