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Happy 50th birthday, Peter Jackson

Coming to prominence in the 1980s with his cult comedy horror movies, Jackson proved his worth behind the camera for Kate Winslet’s breakout film Heavenly Creatures in 1994.

But it wasn’t until several years later that the Kiwi had Hollywood at his feet when he transformed J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic fantasy tales into one of cinema’s highest-grossing franchises.

He is currently shooting the prequel films in his native New Zealand, but the director is sure to put the camera down for a glass of champagne when he hits the milestone on the last day of October.

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And in recognition of his stellar career and his milestone birthday, WENN has dug deep in Middle-Earth to find 10 fascinating facts about the moviemaker.

– Jackson is obsessed with aviation – he collects models of airplanes from World War I.

– When he left school at the age of 17, the director worked as a photo lithographer at a Wellington newspaper for seven years.

– His films have won 20 Academy Awards altogether – 17 for The Lord of the Rings trilogy and three for King Kong.

– The joy of helming The Lord of the Rings trilogy was overshadowed by the death of his parents, who both passed away during filming of the franchise.

– On his first feature film, cult sci-fi horror Bad Taste, Jackson did all the special effects and make-up.

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– He was ranked number seven in Empire magazine’s Greatest Directors Ever countdown in 2005.

– Filming on The Hobbit was stalled earlier this year (11) when Jackson had to undergo emergency surgery to treat a perforated ulcer.

– He was knighted in his native New Zealand last year (10). The honour was sanctioned by the country’s head of state, Queen Elizabeth II.

– Jackson’s wife Fran Walsh has worked on the screenplays of all of Jackson’s movies apart from Bad Taste and has taken home three Oscars for her contributions.

– Jackson owns three film production companies; WingNut Films, Weta Limited and Three Foot Six.

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