December 14, 2001
Jackson Lauded at
On a cold winter's night, Jackson donned a burgundy shirt, with neatly-pressed trousers - and shoes - but managed to avoid wearing a tie.
Crowds of fans waited 10-deep against the barricades for a glimpse of the stars - but there weren't as many as for Harry Potter a month ago.
Nevertheless, Rings enthusiasts from as far afield as Manchester waited outside the Odeon, Leicester Square, for up to four hours for a glimpse of Elijah Wood, Liv Tyler, Ian McKellen and Peter Jackson.
A small clutch had turned out in Middle Earth costumes, waving battle axes above the heads of other onlookers.
But those out to see Cate Blanchett, who plays elf queen Galadriel, were sorely disappointed. The new mother was widely tipped to make an appearance but she didn't make it to the much-hyped first film in the Tolkien trilogy.
Among the first stars to arrive were the hobbits - Dominic Monaghan, Billy Boyd and the crowd's favourite Elijah Wood.
The diminutive actors arrived separately, working their way down hordes of waiting autograph hunters but soon spotted each other and rushed into a three-way hug.
Soon after came Peter Jackson, his usual attire of bare feet and scruffy shorts set aside for the cold night.
While few in the waiting crowd initially recognised the small, bearded man making his way to the cinema doors, they erupted in excitement after a few diehard fans - Kiwis among them - pointed out the director.
"Very few people recognised him straight off, but they all knew who he was once we told them," said Pam Hardistry, of Auckland.
Jackson posed self-consciously for the waiting paparazzi and fans, but good-naturedly turned down the increasingly impassioned requests for autographs.
"I can't, I'm not allowed to," he said, shrugging before disappearing inside.
Despite the winter chill, Liv Tyler provided the glamour in a slinky red high-collared trouser suit.
Christopher Lee, however, dressed for the cold in a heavy woollen overcoat, looking more like a kindly grandfather than the evil wizard Saruman whom he portrays in the film.
Among those clutching well-thumbed volumes of The Fellowship Of The Ring, was Dean Butler, 18, of Essex.
"Elijah Wood signed the cover of my book. I'm so lucky, I'm the only one to get his autograph. And I got Sean Astin and Ian McKellen as well."
He also secured one of the The Lord Of The Rings posters which lined the stars' route to the cinema.
"It's going on my bedroom wall, right next to this book when I get it framed."
The most obvious sign of the New Zealand link to the film was the pounamu hanging around Viggo Mortensen's neck over his tie.
Those in the know would have spotted the black woven cord indicating a similar souvenir of New Zealand, peeking out of the top of Sir Ian McKellen's collar.