Andrew Lesnie, an Oscar-winning Australian cinematographer best known for his work on “The Lord of the Rings,” which launched a popular film franchise, died April 27 in Australia. He was 59.
The Australian Cinematographers Society confirmed the death, and the cause was a suspected heart attack.
Mr. Lesnie won an Academy Award in 2002 for “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring,” the first film in the series. He worked with New Zealand director Peter Jackson on all six “Lord of the Rings” and “Hobbit” films, complicated projects that required him to oversee as many as nine camera crews. They also partnered for the 2005 remake of “King Kong” and 2009’s “The Lovely Bones.”
More recently, Mr. Lesnie worked on the Australian war drama “The Water Diviner” (2014), directed by and starring Russell Crowe.
Mr. Lesnie was born in Sydney on Jan. 1, 1956. While attending the Australian Film, Television and Radio School, he got his start in the Australian TV industry, working on shows and commercials. The advertising jobs, in particular, taught him a range of styles.
In 1980, he handled camerawork for “The Comeback,” a documentary about Arnold Schwarzenegger’s return to bodybuilding.
His lush cinematography on the 1995 hit about a talking pig raised by sheepdogs and its 1998 sequel — “Babe” and “Babe: Pig in the City” — brought him greater prominence.
Jackson later told an interviewer: “I’d never worked with him or even met him before, but he’d shot the ‘Babe’ films, and I thought they looked amazing, the way he’d used backlight and the sun and natural light to create a very magical effect. And ‘Babe’ had that larger-than-life feel about it that I wanted.”
“Babe” also led to work on other mainstream projects, including the Sandra Bullock romantic comedy “Two If By Sea” (1996); “I Am Legend” (2007), starring Will Smith; director M. Night Shyamalan’s “The Last Airbender” (2010); and “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” (2011), starring James Franco.
Survivors include his partner, Bronwen, and two sons.
— from staff and wire reports