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That was the big effect Lord of the Rings had on me. It was discovering New Zealand. And even more precious were the people- not at all like the Australians.
There were two movies that asked me to go to Australia or New Zealand for long periods of time. One was 'Lord of the Rings' and one was 'The Matrix.' But I was actively involved at that time raising my family, and I couldn't really take that time out.
If you read 'Lord of the Rings' and dismiss it as a lie because it has orcs and elves, you're missing the whole point of the story. If children don't have to be concerned about strangers because there's no such thing as a Big Bad Wolf dressed like Granny, you're missing the point.
Gollum is Gollum - though in 'Lord of the Rings' he's 600 years old and in 'The Hobbit' he's 540, so he looks a little bit more handsome.
I'd already started directing short films when we were doing 'Lord of the Rings,' then videogame projects.