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If you like Peter Jackson's story, you might also like:
James Cameron,
Francis Ford Coppola,
Ron Howard,
George Lucas,
Kiri Te Kanawa
and Robert Zemeckis

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Sir Peter Jackson
Sir Peter Jackson
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Sir Peter Jackson Interview (page: 7 / 8)

Oscar for Best Director

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  Sir Peter Jackson

Braindead was still a low budget film, but it holds up very well.

Sir Peter Jackson: That was three gory splatter movies pretty much in a row, and at that point, I did feel like doing something a little different. Fran -- who had written both Feebles and Braindead with me, and we were now a writing team -- Fran said to me, "Why don't we do something on the Parker-Hulme murder case?" I hadn't heard of the Parker-Hulme murder case, and she told me about this very famous murder case that happened in New Zealand -- the South Island of New Zealand, Christchurch -- in 1954. it Involved these two teenage girls that killed the mother of one of the girls.

The other girl is a friend, but they get into this. They're friends. Their friendship builds. They get into this slightly hysterical space. They do what all kids do. They invent imaginary characters, and they write stories about their imaginary kingdoms that these characters live in. They slowly get torn apart because one of the girls' families, Juliet's family, starts to separate, and they're English. So they're going to take her back to England, and so this friendship is going to be torn apart, and it's really out of that grief that these two girls, who had formed a very, very close bond, are going to be separated. Out of that grief comes a plot. A crazy, silly plot to murder the mother of Pauline, who was the girl who was staying, who wasn't going to be leaving. They were deluded. In their minds, they justified that if they killed Pauline's mother, then it would put the brakes on the whole separation, and so they did what is quite unthinkable, this premeditated act.

Sir Peter Jackson Interview Photo
They took her on a bus to some tea rooms at the top of a hill, gave her a cup of tea and a cake, and then went walking down the hill. And they walked down the hill to this track, and they had predetermined the spot where they were going to drop a plastic bauble -- you know, a sort of piece of plastic jewelry -- on the ground and make the mother pick it up, and as she bent down, they were going to hit her over the head with a brick, and they went through with this. It was one of those things where you think at any time, they would stop doing it, they would pull out, they would chicken out, but they actually went through, and they brutally murdered Pauline's mother. That was a very famous murder case in 1954.

There's ramifications of it down in Christchurch still. I mean, it's a case that Christchurch doesn't like to talk about. It was almost seen as an embarrassment to the city. This is a very English, upper class city, Christchurch, and this black dark stain on the record of the town is something that people still feel today. But we wanted our movie to explore the friendship, and to explore how this positive friendship could have ended up twisting around to this murderous act. So that movie was Heavenly Creatures. We got nominated for an Oscar for the screenplay on that film.

The casting of that film was amazing.

Sir Peter Jackson: We wanted two unknown girls to play the two teenagers. They were 15 and 16, and so we had Melanie Lynskey, who's a New Zealand girl, to play Pauline, the Kiwi girl. Fran just found her in a class in school. She literally -- Fran got so desperate, because the casting directors weren't showing us people that we liked, and so she got in a car and drove to schools and asked if she could go into classrooms, said that she's casting for a film, and she would just stand in the classroom and ask a girl to stand up, and then just say, "Could you come with me?" and then she'd go and audition her.

[ Key to Success ] Perseverance

The schools were fine with this to happen. It was like Fran was just tearing girls out of their classrooms, because we got very, very desperate.

The English girl, Juliet, who was 17 years old, was played by a 17-year-old unknown actress in the UK, who had never made a film, called Kate Winslet. Kate Winslet's obviously gone on and made a lot more movies now, but this was her first film, and she was fantastic to work with obviously, and so Kate and Mel were a really great combination. They bonded pretty well, and they got through the film, helped us through the film.

What did you see in Kate Winslet that made you think she would be able to pull this off, when she had never been in a film?

Sir Peter Jackson: John Hubbard, our London casting director, had very good instincts. I remember very clearly, he said to us, "Kate Winslet's going to be a big star one day." That's what John says. He doesn't say that with hardly anybody, but he says Kate's going to be a big star one day, and that wasn't really for that reason, because she wasn't a star now for our film, but we liked her energy. She was able -- she had a truthfulness which is really powerful. She's very strong on emotional stuff, because this was a very emotional, very angst -- fraught with despair, and she had to play all that stuff, and she just does emotion very, very well. She's very believable, and she taps into real things where she generates her tears and her upset, and it comes from a real place. Often actors pretend, and you can see they're pretending. The best actors don't pretend. They actually channel some part of their selves which causes immense pain, and the pain is on their face and the tears come out of their eyes, and they've gone there. They've gone to a dark place, whatever that is, and they are living the anguish and the pain, and they're giving that to you to film for your movie, and that's what Kate does.

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This page last revised on Nov 25, 2013 11:39 EST
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