INT: Elijah Wood

In LOTR: THE RETURN OF THE KING, Elijah Wood returns as Frodo Baggins, the lucky little hobbit charged with the task of saving his world from the greatest evil it has ever known. In this film, the final chapter of the heralded trilogy, Frodo and the gang (tubby pal Sam and that loveable schizophrenic monkey-boy Gollum) make their way to Mordor, where they intend to finally rid themselves of that pesky little ring. For those not familiar with the Tolkien universe (are there any of you left?), Mordor is essentially the Detroit of Middle Earth. It isn’t a place where you want to find yourself at night, or any other time for that matter. Sans the Jheri-curl locks of his hobbit alter ego, Elijah Wood recently joined us to discuss his experience playing Frodo...

Previous interviews: Andy Serkis / Orlando Bloom / Viggo Mortensen / Sean Astin / Peter Jackson / Ian McKellen / Howard Shore


Are you sad or relieved that this journey is finally coming to an end?

I think, in concept, a bit of both. At the moment, I think we’re too in the midst of this particular part of the journey to feel sorrow yet. It doesn’t feel over because we still have so much to go in terms of releasing the film and the promotion of it. I think that, in terms of relief, next year when we don’t have another junket to do and we don’t have to fuckin’ plaster on a fake smile and plow through this shit again. (laughs) But you know how it is. It is an exhausting process, and I think the fact that we won’t have to come back next year and...

Shoot more film?

...well, the shooting – I’d love to keep doing that. (laughs) It’s just exhausting. So, I guess there’s probably some relief associated with that. But, it’s been an amazing journey for us. It’s four years of an incredibly brilliant life experience, where we’ve made some of the best friends of our lives, and I don’t think we’re ready to let go of that, you know? And I think the real realization that it’s over, I think, will come at the end, once the movie’s finished and all of the press is finished.  I think we’ll then be left to reflect and it will sort of really hit us then.  We had a kind of end already, in terms of leaving the film, when we finished the last bit of pickups in June, and that’s when we really kind of emotionally ended our experience on the film.

What was it like leaving New Zealand?

Well, it’s funny, because when we talk about “the end” and the leaving process and all that, there are kind of a lot of “ends.”  It’s ended many, many times over the past four years. The one that is sort of iconic end is when we actually left New Zealand after principal photography, which was three years ago. And that was a very difficult thing. It was a lot mixed emotions because at that point it had been sixteen months that we’d been working on all three movies. We’d been pushed to our limits and were completely exhausted, yet we had immersed ourselves in this world, in New Zealand, with this extended family of the crew and the cast, that we weren’t really ready to leave.

Half of us were saying that we need to get home so that we can finally just rest and know what real relaxation is, because we hadn’t known that for months and months. At the same time, we weren’t really ready to leave New Zealand and say goodbye to everyone. So that kind of “journey home” was a very difficult one. More importantly – and I think more interestingly – was what we felt after we actually did get home and once we were back in our normal life. Because we were so used to life there and on that film, we were living on that schedule and in that world in New Zealand with all these people, and suddenly our own lives – I didn’t quite know what my own life meant anymore. So, it was really about trying to reinstate myself into reality and what that meant. It took me about five or six months to come out of hibernation, really, to come back to being whole and complete and back in the world again. That sounds kind of dramatic, but...

With whom did you bond the most while making the film? 

The hobbits, I think, are probably the strongest relationship that I had, primarily because we started the film together, working every day. So those relationships kind of endured throughout. And we’re also the closest in age, so we related to each other more than anyone else on the film. We also kind of embody all of the elements of the characters in life, so we’ve always been the closest. Certainly, those are the relationships that will remain the strongest, I think, over time. But I’m still very close to Viggo and some of the other actors, who I’m sure I will see in life and know in life for the rest of my life.

I certainly have never felt so close to the people that I’ve worked with.  There’s always a thing that happens when you work on movies, that it’s a tight-knit atmosphere and you become very close to the people you work with over the period of (normally) three or four months, and the movie end and you sort of lose touch. And I think that that will be true of this, but I think that when we all see each other again the bonds are much greater and will endure. 

What’s it like to have shot the movie so long ago and then have to go out and do press for it?

Well, it wasn’t as strange as it would seem, because every year we’ve gone back to New Zealand to do pickups. So, in actual fact, it hasn’t really felt like we’ve stopped working. It was a funny thing because we had the principal photography, wrap of principal photography and the sort of separation anxiety of dealing with that and leaving that world, and then suddenly realizing, “Wait a second, we’re going back every single year. The journey’s never gonna end we’re all gonna be working on these things for the rest of our lives.”  (laughs)

You still have to go back to work on the DVD, right?

We won’t have to go back to New Zealand for it. We will do stuff on the DVD though, I mean commentary and interviews. 

When you look at your scenes in the films, are you able to recall specifically when you shot them and what you were going through at the time? 

I don’t watch it thinking about those things. I certainly could. I could sit down with the movie and go, “Yep, that was a pickup.” A lot of the stuff, though, kind of blends together. The stuff that was done in principal (photography) sort of is a blur in terms of the timeline in which it was done, because we were constantly moving back and forth and shooting out of sequence. It’s difficult to know and remember specifically when each thing was done. Certain scenes stand out more than others because of events that happened around those times, so I can be specific about certain scenes. I tend to kind of just watch. With these movies, I just completely give over to the experience of watching these movies.

I find myself being just as much of a fan as anyone else. And there’s a wonderful thing in these films in the sense that we get to sort of sit down and watch them and only one third of it is me. So everything else I’m not really familiar with. I was so focused on my journey that I completely forgot about the other characters or what the other characters were up to. They would mention sequences that they were shooting and I’d completely forgotten about what happened to certain characters and what goes on along the way in their parts of the story. So, in sitting down and watching these movies, it’s almost like watching a movie I wasn’t a part of, you know? It’s kind of nice to actually have a fresh take on the film instead of being too close to it that I can’t be objective. There’s a real giving over to the film experience, which is nice.

There’s a scene in Return of the King where you were tied up in the spider web, in that cocoon. Did you ever want to lose your mind, being trapped inside that thing?

No, that was cool. I kinda dug that. They wrapped me up with this web material that they had made, this kind of sticky plastic that they created. It was really incredible – all of the major web pieces were made with it. It was a lot of fun, for some reason. I don’t know. I’m crazy that way.

How much time did you spend in the cocoon? 

Not very long. It would have been for periods of like half an hour to an hour or more, each time. And then they’d take me out and they would re-wrap me.

Were there ever any moments during the filming when you felt like you got lost in the character?

There was one time when I was walking from the set to where the base camp was, where our trailers were. There was quite a distance between the two areas and between them was a field and no reference to the modern world whatsoever. And I remember walking from the set to my trailer and along that fifteen minute walk I looked down and saw my feet – and they were Hobbit feet. And since I didn’t have any reference around me of the modern world and of the film or anything else and it was just this incredibly amazing, beautiful location, I suddenly felt like I was an actual Hobbit and I was in the Shire. So that was a moment where things became very real! (laughs)

It seems like it was a really emotionally intense role for you.  How did you find relief while you were filming?

There was always relief, I think. We never took things too seriously and there was always a sense on comedy on set. Peter was always quite funny and working with the other hobbits was always hilarious.  Obviously, for a lot of the stuff in the third movie I didn’t have the other hobbits around, just me and Sean. But we always managed to lighten the atmosphere and make it fun and have a good time, to take it away from the sort of grim nature of some of the scenes. When the camera stopped rolling, there were jokes and when the cameras rolled, it was back to the intensity of the ring.

Peter Jackson mentioned that you shot two different versions of the scene in which you fight with Gollum over the ring. ** includes spoilers **

The first version that we shot I think was not ambiguous enough, as to whether Frodo pushed Gollum off or it was an accident. And I think the version that we shot, it may have happened too easily. Frodo’s finger is bitten off, he stands up, looks and Gollum, runs at him and Gollum falls off. And we wanted there to be a bit more ambiguity within that particular moment as to the actual motivation for Frodo running at Gollum and also for it to seem somewhat accidental and for there to be a bit of a struggle with the ring and there to be something behind that as well.

In your humble opinion, did Frodo want the ring?

Frodo was absolutely after the ring. It was for himself. That was my feeling. I feel like...oh God yeah. Especially when it comes down to – the fact that he’s already made the decision to own the ring. The ring is his at this point. He’s made this decision. Having it bitten off and taken away from him isn’t going to change that, and I think it’s gonna make him even more incensed when he sees that his great rival, the other ringbearer, the one that he can completely relate to, has suddenly got it. So I fully believe that he intends to...and I actually believe that Frodo may have intended to actually kill Gollum. The way that it plays out it doesn’t actually seem that way and it may not actually be the case. But I wouldn’t put it past that character in that particular situation.

Source: JoBlo.com



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