A ‘lovely’ conversation: Peter Jackson discusses upcoming film with colleges


Photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures

In the past decade Peter Jackson’s films have covered Middle Earth and Skull Island. Now Jackson is on to a new frontier: heaven.

On November 18, The Pleiad participated in a live conference call with Jackson discussing his upcoming film The Lovely Bones. While Jackson phoned in live from New Zealand, the call included colleges from across the country and was facilitated by Paramount Studios. While the call focused on The Lovely Bones, Jackson discussed a wide variety of subjects, from working with actors to his filmmaking process.

“I make films that I feel comfortable making, and I also make films that…I’m sort of interested in seeing,” Jackson said during the call. “Because I often—I often think that every movie I make is very personal, because the only reason I’m making it is because I want to see the finished film.”

Based on the novel by Alice Sebold, The Lovely Bones is told through the eyes of Susie Salmon, a 14-year-old girl who is murdered in a nearby cornfield, as she looks down on her family from her heaven. From heaven, Susie watches as her family struggles to move forward after her death, her friends from school (including her first crush) and her murderer.

Jackson is no stranger to adapting novels, as he adapted the Lord of the Rings trilogy as well.

“I’m realizing that when you adapt a book, you can only really put half the book into the film,” Jackson said. “So, one of the challenges that we’re discovering now is that, when you’re adapting, you’ve got to—you’ve got to realize that you’re only going to get half the book into the movie, and you’ve got to start making decisions about what the most important aspects of the book are.”

The Lovely Bones stars Mark Wahlberg, Rachel Weisz, Saoirse Ronan, Stanley Tucci and Michael Imperioli. According to Jackson, one of his jobs on the set was learning how to direct each actor.

“I don’t say the same thing to everybody, because each actor requires a slightly different approach, depending on what their acting style is,” Jackson said. “There’s some actors who do their best work on take one and two…and yet, there are other actors who keep getting better and better.  You do take six better than take five and you do take seven, which is the best one, and then take eight’s the best one.  But it’s really difficult when you’ve got two actors in the same scene and one of them peaks on take two, and the one isn’t going to get good until take seven.”

Despite his films’ success, Jackson said that when he completes a film, he’s done with it for a long time.

“I never watch my movies when—after they’ve finished,” Jackson said. “I can go 10 years without seeing an old film that I’ve made.  I’ve got no desire to watch them again once I’ve actually finished the movie and handed it over, and it’s into cinemas, and people are going and seeing it.”

The Lovely Bones opens in the United States on a limited release Dec. 11 and nationwide Jan. 15.

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