E!Online secured an exclusive interview with Elijah Wood, the 19 year old actor portraying Frodo Baggins in Peter Jackson’s films…
Frodo Speaks: An Exclusive Q&A with Elijah Wood
by John Forde
E!Online – February 1, 2000
Frodo is relieved. Elijah Wood, the 19-year-old star who plays Frodo Baggins–the primary character in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings saga–has been dying for a chance to talk about this hush-hush project.
Now he can. Relaxing between takes on the Hobbiton set, in his first interview since filming began, Wood opens up about Frodo, his costars, the technical demands of this massive trilogy–and big furry feet and little pointy ears.
Frodo goes on an enormous physical and spiritual journey–what part of that journey are you most interested in exploring?
I think he has a sense of strength, that he’s able to take on this quest and take it to the end, which is very interesting to me. And what happens to him on the way interests me as an actor–you know, the fact the Ring
starts to take hold and he starts to go mad and loses himself.
It’s an incredible arc, to watch that happen over time.
Many of Tolkien’s main characters have a moment of confrontation with their dark side–they have to choose between taking on the evil power of the Ring or resisting it. What’s it like to explore the dark side of Frodo?
We haven’t dealt with it a lot yet, because we’re still in film one, which is probably the least dark of the three. But I certainly did explore it a bit when we did some scenes from film three, and it’s very interesting.
It’s quite a dark side…so dark it’s not really Frodo
anymore, y’know–it’s kinda the Ring speaking. And the obsessive nature
inspired by the Ring is so interesting. “No one can have the Ring, it’s
mine, so stay away.” It’s almost subconscious.
So, you see Frodo as being possessed by evil, rather than making a conscious choice to engage the Ring’s power?
Oh, definitely. There was a conscious decision to take on the Ring, to destroy the Ring, for the better of Middle Earth and the Shire, but he doesn’t ever make a conscious decision to go to the dark side. It’s simply over a period of time he is beaten down, and his soul is beaten ragged, and he gets to a point where he can’t handle it anymore, where he can’t hold out against it.
What do you admire about Frodo… or not admire?
I admire the fact he’s inquisitive and curious and wants to experience the outside world. He learns so much from Gandalf, he’s learning Elvish, and he tries to be a worldly person. I also admire that by the time he makes the decision to take the Ring, it’s selfless–it’s for the better of
Middle Earth and the Shire. And he wants to take this journey whether he
may die or not.
That’s an incredibly courageous and honorable decision. He’s just got a
spirit, you know? That’s what I love about him…he’s very alive and very
lively. You don’t get to see a lot of that–only in the beginning of the
first film–but his spirit, the light that’s in him, is what holds him
What about the physical aspects of the production–the prosthetics, the makeup…
Yeah! Every morning, I start with about two and a half hours of makeup, which means some very early mornings. We’re usually picked up around 5 a.m. I come to the set, and I get into my feet, which takes about an hour.
They look comfortable.
They actually are very comfortable, thank God, but it does take a while to put them on. Initially, that was so exciting. Got the feet, got the wig and the ears. And then it was like, Ooooo-kay…I could do without this in the morning! Then I put on my wig–it’s the first time I’ve worn a wig in a film, so that’s exciting–and the [prosthetic] ears, which fit on very well, so it’s cool. You feel like a hobbit. We really transform in the morning, which is neat.
Hobbits are similar to humans, but they’re not human. How do you develop a character who isn’t human?
I haven’t really thought of it in terms of what could I do that would be
hobbit-like. I’ve more approached it like, what are the elements of my
character? How am I going to portray them. Because my character is less
hobbit-like than any of them, really. He’s not an outcast, but he’s on his
His uncle [Bilbo] is a bit of a strange fellow here in Hobbiton, and
everyone looks at him like he’s a bit of a freak because he’s got all these
stories and he’s been to all these places and he’s a bit mad. And I’m on
sort of that route, because I’m very interested in the route Bilbo
took in his travels and the things he’d seen and the people he’d met. Which
doesn’t make me a typical hobbit.
What kind of journey are you on as an actor?
There are so many elements which are different and new for me as an actor. The sheer length of the project, the fact that I’ve got three films to develop a character, to hold that character and have him change and grow. Normally, you’ve got a couple of months to shoot a movie and develop the character, and it’s not normally done in sequence. Here, we’ve got three films, being filmed mostly in sequence, so I get to experience the character’s changes
and live with the character over a long period of time, which I really
How do you maintain your character amid all the technical demands?
It’s easy to keep hold of the character. Peter Jackson is always in the moment, and he knows what’s going on, and I try to keep myself focused on the scene.
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