Andrew Lesnie, the Australian Oscar-winning cinematographer behind The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, has died from a heart attack at the age of 59. Having won an Oscar for his defining work on the Lord of the Rings movies in 2002, the Sydney-born Lesnie went on to work on film such as Peter Jackson’s King Kong, I am Legend and Rise of the Planet of the Apes. The final film he worked on was The Water Diviner, directed by fellow Australian Russell Crowe. Crowe posted this on his Twitter page:
Devastating news from home. The master of the light, genius Andrew Lesnie has passed on .
— Russell Crowe (@russellcrowe) April 28, 2015
Confirming Lesnie’s death, the Australian Cinematographers Society stated, ‘We have been advised of the sudden death of Andrew,’ telling The Hollywood Reporter that they would provide a proper statement later.
Peter Jackson, director of all six Middle-earth films from The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring right up to The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, picked Lesnie for his ambitious project for his particular visual style. Here’s a segment of an interview Jackson did with Digital Producer way back in 2004, where he spoke about first nabbing Lesnie:
‘I’d never worked with him or even met him before, but he’d shot the Babe films and I thought they looked amazing, the way he’d used backlight and the sun and natural light to create a very magical effect. And Babe had that larger-than-life feel about it that I wanted. So when we began looking for DPs in early 1999, I first decided to get either an Australian or New Zealand DP as they’d be used to the way we make films. Every country is slightly different in that way, and I immediately thought of Andrew.’