The notoriously publicity-shy partner and collaborator of Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson, screenwriter/producer Frances Walsh is the dark heart of her companion's twisted body of cinematic work. From the early days of Meet the Feebles (1989) to the larger-than-life battle of the Pelennor Fields in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003), Walsh's vividly drawn characters and subtle story touches have provided the perfect balance to Jackson's wildly over-the-top visuals. Though early gigs as a bassist in a Wellington-based rock band may never have pointed to a successful career in screenwriting for the New Zealand native, the mid-'80s found her making the segue to television as a writer for the popular series Worzel Gummidge Down Under.
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It was while working on post-production for Jackson's freshman effort Bad Taste (1987) that the rising screenwriter first made the acquaintance of the up-and-coming director, and shortly thereafter, Walsh teamed with Jackson to score and co-write his outrageous sophomore feature Meet the Feebles (1989). In 1992, the gore-drenched duo cooked up their most splatterific fright flick to date with the gag-inducing horror comedy Dead Alive. Two short years later, the couple would surprise the world with the surprisingly restrained, but undeniably affecting, Heavenly Creatures. A chilling account of a harrowing murder committed by two delusional New Zealand schoolgirls in 1954, Heavenly Creatures proved that Walsh and Jackson could accomplish much more than gross-out humor -- earning critical acclaim worldwide and opening numerous doors for the filmmaking duo. Of course, the biggest door opened by Heavenly Creatures was the door to Hollywood, and in 1996, the duo released their first stateside effort, The Frighteners. Largely absent of the tidal wave of gore offered by Bad Taste and Dead Alive, but unabashedly stylish and full of the director/screenwriter team's trademark dark humor, The Frighteners suffered a short life at the box office despite finding a healthy following when released on home video shortly thereafter.
If fans had harbored any doubts about Walsh and Jackson's transition to internationally known filmmakers, all questions would be put to rest with the release of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, beginning in 2001. Though adapting the sometimes challenging text of J.R.R. Tolkien would be a difficult task for even the most seasoned screenwriter, Walsh and co-writers Jackson and Philippa Boyens undoubtedly proved up to it -- painting a vivid world of three-dimensional characters and offering an imaginative and engrossing adaptation of the original novels. Walsh also contributed to the trilogy's musical scores, and in addition to winning numerous international film awards, Peter Jackson's better half earned three Oscars when the smoke cleared in early 2003. That same year, production was well underway for the couple's next cinematic endeavor -- a remake of the 1933 fantasy-adventure classic King Kong. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi