Andrew Lesnie, ‘Lord of the Rings’ Cinematographer, Dies at 59 Years Old; Hollywood Pays Tribute

( [email protected] ) Apr 29, 2015 01:30 AM EDT
Andrew Lesnie

Australian cinematographer Andrew Lesnie, who was best known for his work in the "Lord of the Rings" and "Hobbit" films, suddenly passed away. He was 59 years old.

According to Mike Barnes of the Hollywood Reporter, Lesnie won an Oscar for his work in the first film of the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy. Legendary actor Russell Crowe, who worked with the cinematographer in their latest World War I drama film, "The Water Diviner," shared his reaction on Twitter.

"Devastating news from home," Crowe wrote. "The master of the light, genius Andrew Lesnie has passed on."

Barnes reported that Lesnie suffered from a heart attack on Monday, which may have triggered his sudden passing. He spent more than a decade working with director Peter Jackson on the "Lord of the Rings" and "Hobbit" films.

"We have been advised of the sudden death of Andrew," a spokesman from the Australian Cinematographers Society said, adding that his family will make an official statement later.

Film critic Harry Knowles recalled his "many great memories with that man" with BBC News.

"In the 14 days I was on set of the original LOTR shoot, I swear I never saw Andrew Lesnie not smiling huge and making others feel the same," Knowles said. "Andrew Lesnie and Peter Jackson would giggle behind the camera together like the most mischievous pair of movie masters that I've seen."

Andrew Lesnie
Lesnie and Peter Jackson on the set of Lord of the Rings. Rex Features

In a 2004 interview cited by BBC News, Jackson recalled that he hired Lesnie for the "Lord of the Rings" films after seeing his work on "Babe," an Australian film about a talking pig.

"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," Jackson said. "Babe had that larger-than-life feel about it that I wanted."

The owners of Weta Workshop, Richard and Tania Taylor, issued a statement on Facebook indicating that they were "saddened to hear the news" of Lesnie's death. According to BBC News, that company produced props and special effects for "Lord of the Rings."

"Our memories of Andrew will always be of a wonderful and caring person who looked out for the technicians around him, was keen to have a good laugh and keep everyone jollied along even when things were at the most stressful for everyone," the Taylors wrote. "What an incredible man and we are very fortunate to have had the chance to work with him on so many wonderful projects. Our condolences to Andrew's family from all his friends at Weta Workshop."

According to BBC News, Lesnie was also the director of photography on Jackson's remake of "King Kong" and the crime drama "The Lovely Bones." Other film credits included "Rise of the Planet of the Apes," "I Am Legend," and "The Last Airbender."

"Andrew Lesnie was a treat to work with," actor Jamie Bell wrote on Twitter. "I am blown away by all he achieved. He'll be missed greatly. RIP."

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