December 11, 2001

Lord of the Rings Premieres in London
Staff Reporter

LONDON: New Zealand film director Peter Jackson has been greeted warmly by movie fans at the world premiere of The Lord of the Rings at London's Leicester Square this morning (NZT).

Fans lined up 10-deep along a 60m walkway leading to the Odeon theatre in the heart of London's cultural West End, cheered when an unusually dapper-looking Jackson came into sight.

Jackson, famed for wearing shorts and going barefeet, was clad in a deep purple dress shirt, nicely pressed charcoal trousers and well-polished black shoes.

That was dressed up for him, but he was underdressed for his big night on a crisp, chill, London winter evening, at an event where suits are standard apparel.

Left hand tucked into a trouser pocket, Jackson beamed and waved to the crowd as a barrage of camera flash bulbs lit up the night.

After briefly posing for the press and fans, he turned and entered the theatre – almost taking a side door until directed through the main entrance – for the biggest night of his career.

Flaming rings stood atop the Odean verandah, with music from the film playing as actors and celebrities arrived.

John Rhys-Davies, who plays the dwarf Gimli, was first there.

Jackson said he did feel nervous about how the public would receive the film but was heartened by the early reviews.

"I'll be relieved to have people finally see the film because it has been the buzz on the Internet, there have been spies (on set), it has been gossip and rumour for three years now.

"Three years is too long. People have just got to see it. It is just a movie and it needs to have an identity as a film now and not as this Internet buzz. I'll be relieved when it is out there."

Christopher Lee, who plays the fallen wizard Saruman, said he was seeing the film for the first time at the premiere but was confident it was going to be fantastic.

The 79-year-old veteran called Jackson one of the greatest film directors of the age. "Someone asked me what my greatest ambition in life is and I replied that it was to live to see the third film," Lee said.

Wood said the film was breathtaking and he hoped it would inspire a whole new generation to read the books.

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