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.

Interview with the director Peter Webber

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.

Days shooting in NZ


Cast members


Total NZ cast and crew


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.

Emperor producers Yoko, Gary, and Eugene

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

Composer Alex Heffes

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

A morning with Peter Webber 

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.

Images © Fellers Film LLC