Andrew Lesnie, the Oscar-winning cinematographer of the “Lord of the Rings” and “Hobbit” franchises, has reportedly died of a heart attack. He was 59.
Lesnie's family is expected to make an official statement at a later time.
Devastating news from home. The master of the light, genius Andrew Lesnie has passed on .
– Russell Crowe (@russellcrowe) April 28, 2015
Lesnie received his Academy Award for “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring” in 2002, a towering achievement that represented a visionary new direction for epic filmmaking, courtesy of director Peter Jackson. He was then inexplicably passed over for nominations for “The Two Towers” and particularly the 11-Oscar sweeper “The Return of the King,” each of them no less stunning (and indeed, part of an organic whole).
Lesnie was behind the camera on films like 1995's “Babe” and its sequel before Jackson tapped him to help bring the world of Middle Earth to the big screen. In addition, he captured the worlds of blockbusters like “King Kong,” “I Am Legend” and “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” in his lens, always doing so with a fresh take, never derivative despite working in territory that could easily be given to derivation. For those reasons and many more, this is a considerable loss.
Most recently actor-turned-filmmaker Russell Crowe used Lesnie's talents on “The Water Diviner,” which just made it to US theaters last week after opening in select territories across the globe in December and earlier this year.
UPDATE: Peter Jackson has posted the following to Facebook:
Novaer. Hantanyel órenyallo.