PERSONAL: Born in Auckland, New Zealand; daughter of John (a primary school principal) and Jane Boyens; married Paul Gittins (an actor); children: Calum, Phoebe.
ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o New Line Cinema, 116 North Robertson Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90048.
CAREER: Worked as a script reader and editor; New Zealand Writers Guild, executive director. Appeared in documentary films, including National Geographic: Beyond the Movie—The Lord of the Rings, 2001; The Making of the Lord of the Rings, 2002; The Lord of the Rings: The Quest Fulfilled, 2003; and Ringers: Lord of the Fans, 2005.
AWARDS, HONORS: Academy Award nomination for best adapted screenplay (with Fran Walsh and Peter Jackson), Academy of Arts and Sciences, 2002, for The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring; Academy Award (with Walsh and Jackson) for best adapted screenplay, 2004, for The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.
SCREENPLAYS; "LORD OF THE RINGS" TRILOGY
(With Fran Walsh and Peter Jackson; and lyricist) The Fellowship of the Ring, New Line Cinema, 2001.
(With Fran Walsh and Peter Jackson) The Two Towers, New Line Cinema, 2002.
(With Fran Walsh and Peter Jackson; and lyricist) The Return of the King, New Line Cinema, 2003.
WORK IN PROGRESS: King Kong, 2005; screen adaptation of the novel The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold.
SIDELIGHTS: Philippa Boyens is a New Zealand-born screenwriter whose collaboration with husband-and-wife team and fellow New Zealanders Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh led to their 2004 Academy Award win for best adapted screenplay for The Return of the King, the third installment based on J. R. R. Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" trilogy. The trio had been nominated, but did not win, two years earlier for the screenplay The Fellowship of the Ring. By the end of 2004, the film saga had garnered a total of seventeen Oscars and had grossed nearly three billion dollars worldwide. Boyens has two children and her son, Calum, had a part in the second film, The Two Towers.
In an interview for 21stCenturyRadio.com Robert Hieronimus questioned Boyens regarding bringing an almost sacred work to life on the screen. "[O]ne of those things I wish [Tolkien] … could have seen, because I feel proud of, is the use of … his language that he created, and the fact that we have entire scenes in Elvish, which is great, because that's his language and it's being brought to life." Hieronimus asked Boyens if she saw a contemporary message in the trilogy with regard to industrialization—which Tolkien despised—and environmental policies. Boyens explained that the films speak to "man's impact on the environment and that connection, of course, to the Ents in film two are an extraordinary example of that. This is where nature, in effect, fights back."
Christian Century contributor Steve Vineberg reviewed the final film and reflected on all three parts of the six-plus-hour saga. "The marvel of the first film in the trilogy, The Fellowship of the Ring, is the way Jackson advances the narrative through a seemingly endless visual variety—a new world every fifteen minutes, as one friend expressed it to me. The Two Towers, racing at an almost alarming speed, is built around an extended battle sequence that rivals the fantastical wars that directors like Fritz Lang and Akira Kurosawa invented. The Return of the King feels like a series of valedictories, and that's largely why it's so overwhelming emotionally." Each film in the trilogy was released on DVD in an extended version, with extra footage, and all are available as a collection.
Writer and director Jackson's love of the original King Kong led him to remake the film, with Boyens and Walsh again cowriting. The film stars Jack Black, Naomi Watts, and Adrien Brody, with Andy Serkis, whose acting was the basis for the digital Gollum, playing the ape. Boyens has also set to work on the film version of Alice Sebold's best-selling novel The Lovely Bones.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Christian Century, January 13, 2004, Steve Vineberg, review of The Return of the King, p. 41.
Daily Variety, December 13, 2004, Jamie Clark, review of The Return of the King (extended), p. S22
Newsweek, December 6, 2004, Jeff Giles, "Kingdom Kong; Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings Was One for the Ages. Now He's Remaking King Kong, the Movie That Changed His Young Life," p. 82.
Onfilm, December, 2003, "Six Years a Ring Bearer: An Exclusive Interview with Screenwriter Philippa Boyens," p. 15.
Village Voice, December 31, 2003, Laura Sinagra, "Where the Boys Are: Girl Talk with Lord of the Rings Screenwriter Philippa Boyens" (interview), p. C58.
21stCenturyRadio.com, http://www.21stcenturyradio.com/ (December 15, 2002), Robert Hieronimus, interview with Boyens.
Promontory Artists Association Web site, http://promontoryartists.org/ (March 3, 2005), Jeffrey Overstreet, interview with Boyens and Fran Walsh.