Why ‘Exhausted’ Peter Jackson Passed On Directing Mortal Engines – Exclusive

Peter Jackson

by Ben Travis |
Published on

For a long time, Peter Jackson was set to bring Mortal Engines, with its vast, duelling wheeled-cities and ravaged world, to the big screen. The filmmaker acquired the rights to the Philip Reeve’s series of novels – and then ended up going back to Middle-earth to direct The Hobbit when Guillermo Del Toro left the project. Three massive movies later, Jackson was out of battery.

“i wasn’t in the right frame of mind,” he said about his decision not to direct Mortal Engines himself, speaking in Empire's Review of the Year issue. “I just thought I could either direct the movie in an exhausted state or I could give it to someone who is young and has a bit more energy, and simply help them.” That turned out to be Christian Rivers, Jackson’s long-time friend who shot significant amounts of second-unit footage on The Hobbit movies, including The Desolation Of Smaug’s barrels scene. “This seemed to be an obvious moment in time to tell him to get his directing boots on and show up on set, “ says Jackson.

Mortal Engines - exclusive

With its steampunk visuals and bold post-post-apocalyptic world to set out, Rivers has his references clear: “My pitch was that if you could make a triangle out of Star Wars, Mad Max and Harry Potter, we could sit in the middle. We sort of have the scale of Star Wars, the gritty realism of Mad Max, and inherent in Philip's writing, there is this Harry Potter-esque, English, institutional, almost Dickensian feel.”

Read more about Mortal Engines in Empire’s Review of the Year issue, on shelves from 1 November.

Empire – December 2018

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