© Fellers Film LLC

Tommy Lee Jones as General Douglas MacArthur - © Fellers Film LLC

British filmmaker Peter Webber (Girl with a Pearl Earring) came to New Zealand in 2012 to film the epic feature Emperor starring Tommy Lee Jones and Matthew Fox.

The film takes place during the precarious days after the close of World War II, and follows General MacArthur (Tommy Lee Jones) and his military intelligence head, General Bonner Fellers (Matthew Fox), as they face decisions which will alter the course of history, in an epic story of love and honour.

Although the film is set in post-war Japan, all but two days were shot in New Zealand at 32 locations around Auckland, at Auckland Film Studios, and at locations in Wellington and Hamilton. It was post produced at Park Road Post Production.

What I hope to do is to transport you back in time to a place that has been ravaged beyond belief by war. To a destroyed, almost post-apocalyptic cityscape. And to take you on the journey of some people who had to make some really important historical decisions.”

Peter Webber, Director

Interview with the director

Peter Webber opens up about what it was like filming Emperor in New Zealand.

Days shooting in NZ


Cast members


including 24 New Zealanders + extras

Total NZ cast and crew


+ extras

The Producers

Emperor was produced by Yoko Narahashi (The Last Samurai), Gary Foster (Ghost Rider, Daredevil, Sleepless in Seattle, The Soloist), Eugene Nomura (Tajomaru, Surely Some Day) and Russ Krasnoff (The Soloist), and is a co-production by Fellers Film and Krasnoff/Foster Entertainment.

Yoko, Gary, and Eugene were photographed outside Massey University in Wellington.

Composer Alex Heffes

Alex Heffes (Touching the VoidThe First GraderThe Last King of Scotland), recorded the film score for Emperor with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra at the Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington.

“I’ve worked with orchestras all around the world, and this is a unique experience, it’s a working symphony orchestra, not a session orchestra... That makes it a really gratifying experience for me, because I don’t have to work hard to get the creative response I want, it just sounds great." 

A Morning with Peter Webber

At the end of 2012, after a year working in New Zealand, director Peter Webber took Film New Zealand for a drive around Wellington to chat about his journey.

Location Shoot: Auckland

Take a look behind the scenes of Emperor and see how Auckland was transformed into post-WWII Japan. 

Location Shoot: Massey University

Massey University was a key location, doubling as The Dai-Ichi Seimei Building, General Douglas MacArthur's (Tommy Lee Jones) Japanese headquarters. Take a look behind the scenes.

Production Stills

Take a look at some of the scenes from Emperor.

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