Lord of the Rings cinematographer Andrew Lesnie dies aged 59

Tributes paid to Oscar-winning director of photography who filmed Middle-earth, Planet of the Apes and Babe

Cinematographer Andrew Lesnie, whose skill brought Peter Jackson’s vision of Middle-earth to life, has died aged 59.


Lesnie worked with Jackson for over a decade as his director of photographer on The Lord of the Rings trilogy and Hobbit films.

A spokesman from the Australian Cinematographers Society confirmed that they had been advised of the sudden death of Lesnie, and that his family would provide an official statement later.

He had recently finished working with Russell Crowe on his directorial debut The Water Diviner. The actor paid tribute to Lesnie on Twitter, calling him “The master of the light”.

Lesnie first came to the attention of Peter Jackson after his work as director of photography on the film Babe, and when Jackson planned to turn New Zealand into Middle-earth it was the Australian Lesnie he turned to.

He won an Oscar for Best Cinematography for the first film in the trilogy, The Fellowship of the Ring, and a Bafta for his work on the final instalment The Return of the King. He was also director of photography alongside director Jackson for The Hobbit trilogy, King Kong and The Lovely Bones.

Lesnie went on to take advantage of new film technology with sci-fi reboot Planet of the Apes, and was also responsible for post-apocalyptic sci-fi I Am Legend starring Will Smith and fantasy The Last Airbender.


His latest film The Water Diviner, directed by fellow Australian Russell Crowe, was released in the UK earlier this month.