September 2002 | Foreword to "The Making of the Movie Trilogy"
The day The Lord of the Rings opened at the Embassy Cinema in New Zealand's capital, Wellingtonians woke to discover that overnight their city had been renamed by government decree. To honor the achievement of their local film industry, Wellington was for one unique day exchanged for Middle-earth on signposts and public buildings. By the evening a red carpet stretched the length of Courtenay Place in front of the Embassy, scene of multitudinous celebrations as the audience crowded in to the premiere. Those of us who couldn't be there had already caught the Kiwis' excitement when we saw that Tolkien's characters were on the end-of-year postage stamps, advertising New Zealand's enterprise worldwide. When a film employs more workers than any other industry in the country, there is reason for celebration.
For those of us who were drafted in from abroad to participate in the filmmaking, this local identification was less daunting when everyone hearing the British accent knew at once, “Oh, you are here for The Lord of the Rings!”
We also encountered an obsessive concern for the outcome of Peter Jackson's translation of novels into cinema, and not only in New Zealand. The Internet was buzzing with questions, half-answers, guesses, hopes and fears from Tolkien's admirers. My response to this enthusiasm was to set up my own public journal. "The Grey Book." Rereading this book now, I realize how inadequate my observations were, so if you want to experience what it was really like making The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and even 2003's The Return of the King, you have the most authoritative source in your hands.
When Peter Jackson and his partner Fran Walsh first talked to me about their project, I was a Tolkien ignoramus (as I don't consider a single reading of The Hobbit as a teenager to count very much!). They came to my home in London some months before shooting with a file of Middle-earth images and the trilogy's initial screenplay. They left behind a sense that a great journey was afoot and that my ticket to ride was the chance of a lifetime. Brian Sibley's book captures the excitement perfectly. — Ian McKellen, September 2002