Andrew Lesnie, who served as director of photography on Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies, passed away yesterday at the age of 59, after suffering a sudden heart attack. The Australian cinematographer won an Oscar in 2002 for his work on the first Lord of the Rings movie, The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring. Here's what director Peter Jackson had to say in a statement on his Facebook page:
"Being an only child, I grew up wondering what it would be like to have a brother. It wasn't until today, in trying to deal with the terrible news of Andrew's passing, that I came to realise how much he had become that person for me - someone I could intrinsically love and trust - which I know now means someone who is up for all the good and the bad. Andrew was an irreplaceable part of my family and I am in total disbelief that I'll never again hear his infectious laugh, nor benefit from his quiet wisdom, or enjoy his generous praise. Andrew created unforgettable, beautiful images on screen, and he did this time and again, because he only ever served what he believed in - he was his own artist, separate from me, but always working generously to make what we were trying to create together better. On set we developed an ability to work together using a minimum of words - a rare meeting of minds. I will always remember turning up, countless times, at five in the morning - all those quiet moments I had with him when I could step on to set and know he was there - unfazed, ready, listening, interested, more importantly - ready to catch me if I faltered. He always had my back. The more anxious I became, the more calm he would be. A solid rock in the unpredictable world we both chose to work in. After 17 years and 8 movies together, the loss of Andrew is very hard to bear.
My heart goes out to Jack and Sam, of whom he was enormously proud and to Marce, who gave him so much happiness.
Dearest Andrew, you never sought nor wanted praise - you never needed to hear how good you were, you only ever cared about doing great work and respecting the work of others. But on behalf of all those who were lucky enough to collaborate with you, love you and in turn, respect your mastery of story, of light and of cinema magic - you are one of the great cinematographers of our time."
Weta Workshop owners Richard Taylor and Tania Taylor also offered the following statement:
"The Weta Workshop team are saddened to hear the news that Andrew Lesnie has passed away today. 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. 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."
Before he helped shape the world of Middle Earth with Peter Jackson, he worked with George Miller as a documentary cameraman on Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior and later as director of photography on Babe, Babe: Pig In The City and the live-action unit of Happy Feet. He also was Peter Jackson's cinematographer on King Kong and The Lovely Bones. His other credits include I Am Legend, The Last Airbender, Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Russell Crowe's directorial debut, The Water Diviner, which opened in theaters last weekend. Here's what Russell Crowe had to say on his Twitter page.