After ‘I’, Richard Taylor keen to explore more Indian films (IANS Interview)

Wellington, Oct 15 (IANS) The deformed face and body of Indian actor Vikram in filmmaker Shankar’s Tamil romantic thriller “I” was the work of Richard Taylor’s world renowned Weta Workshop. The mutliple Oscar winning talent says it was a “fantastic” experience to work with a “genius” like Shankar and that he’d love to explore opportunities of working with more Indian filmmakers.

IANS caught up with Taylor at the Weta Workshop, where his prosthetic team gave an ‘elf’ makeover to Bollywood actor Sidharth Malhotra, the newly appointed tourism ambassador for New Zealand in India.

Taylor says he’s yet to make a visit to India, but hopes he’ll make it some day.

“I keep getting invited to a business and film convention each year in India, but I’ve never been able to go. It’s just not quite timed out with my life. Other people from my office have gone to India, but because I’m always running around the workshop here, I’ve never actually got to travel there. So, sadly, I’ve missed out on it,” he said during a tete-a-tete.

The very mention of Shankar — a renowned filmmaker who predominantly makes Tamil movies — made Taylor excited.

“He’s fantastic, and quite a genius. In fact, Shankar very kindly offered us another film, which we very badly wanted to work on. But we had just accepted an American film. If only he had called us three or four days earlier, we would have been working on another Indian film,” he said, adding that “it was very sad” that the second collaboration couldn’t come through.

It was two years ago that Shankar had visited Weta Workshop. His meeting with Taylor, other artists and technicians left him mesmerised.

In a Facebook post, Shankar had shared how while Taylor is a “very creative and wonderful person”, he was especially “surprised to see him working along with others in the workshop, sculpting a horse for some project”.

True to that description, Taylor was totally on the move at his workshop and very engrossed in his work. He wasn’t suited or booted. He was well in his casuals with scruffy hair and was trying to multi-task as much as he could.

But letting bygones be bygones on missing another Indian project, he said: “We look forward to the next time we get to work for someone from India.”

Taylor’s farsightedness and creativity with technology has lent the global film industry tough standards to compete with.

“Lord Of The Rings”, “The Hobbit”, “District 9”, “The Adventures Of Tintin” and “Avatar” are some of the cinematic treats that are a product of his Weta Workshop, which specialises in creating unique concept and creature design, models and miniatures and special make-up effects.

If there was to be a reboot of Peter Jackson’s “The Lord Of The Rings” trilogy — based on the eponymous epic high-fantasy novels written by English author J.R.R. Tolkien — would he be game for it?

“Oh, of course, I would step back into Middle Earth in one minute,” he said with a childlike enthusiasm, and also broke into guffaws when he came to know that actor Elijah Wood, who essayed Frodo Baggins in the movies, had visited India just last month as a DJ!

“Was he filming in India,” he asked with immense curiosity.

But when he was told that Elijah was on a three-city tour of India as one half of the DJ duo Wooden Wisdom, Taylor was surprised, and commented: “He’s very… he just stuns and just pops up something new all the time. Elijah is wonderful and a very warm person.”

(The writer’s trip is at the invitation of Tourism New Zealand. Radhika Bhirani can be contacted at

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