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The Prodigy Chat

Date: September 12, 1997

Moderator: Good evening and welcome. Actor Elijah Wood has starred in a number of popular feature films, including FLIPPER; THE WAR (with Kevin Costner); NORTH; and THE ADVENTURES OF HUCK FINN... In October, Elijah will be seen in THE ICE STORM, which recently won an award for BEST SCREENPLAY at the 50th Cannes Film Festival... Elijah stars on ABC Nov 9 in Disney's made-for-TV version of OLIVER TWIST. Next May, he'll star in the thriller DEEP IMPACT... OK folks, here's ELIJAH WOOD!!!!

Elijah Wood: Hello, everyone! I'm glad that you made it, I'm glad to be here, and I'm happy to answer your questions.

Moderator: Great to have you here, Elijah! We have lots of questions coming in. So let's get to them...

TK inChicago: Hi Elijah, I've heard bits and pieces about The Ice Storm. Who's in the movie with you, and what can you tell us about it?

Elijah Wood: The Ice Storm is a movie about the sexual revolution in the 1970s and its effect on two families--both the children and the parents. Also in the film with me are Joan Allen, Christina Ricci, Kevin Kline, Sigourney Weaver and also Toby McGuire. It's quite a cast, and everybody's excellent. I felt incredibly honored to have worked with everybody that I did.

Bill in NH: My wife loves Aidan Quinn. She wants to know if you've kept in touch with him since "Avalon?" Did you enjoy making that movie with him?

Elijah Wood: Oh, I really enjoyed working with Aidan. I haven't seen him for eight years now, since we filmed the movie. It's hard to stay in touch. Especially at that age. We were very good friends when we made the film, but then I guess we went our separate ways. But he was so much fun to work with. It was a great experience for me.

Moderator: Elijah Wood's latest project is a film called THE ICE STORM. Elijah stars with Kevin Kline and Sigourney Weaver! The film opens later this month. Please write to our guest now with your questions and comments.

In doing this film, Elijah was able to work with actors like Kevin Kline, Sigourney Weaver, Joan Allen and Christina Ricci... And, Elijah worked with a great director on this project--ANG LEE. Ang Lee has directed a number of critically acclaimed films, including SENSE AND SENSIBILITY and EAT DRINK MAN WOMAN...

Tyra McD: What's the best advice a director ever gave you?

Elijah Wood: I can tell you the best advice an actor gave me: Mel Gibson gave me some incredible advice. He told me, "You can always do better." There's no "best." You can always do better than you've done, than what you think has been your best. There's no real personal perfection. And when you start thinking you're good, and believing that you're good, you're no longer good. When you think you're so good, you don't try to do better.

Wigout Guy: Is it easier being a kid in Hollywood or an adult in Hollywood?

Elijah Wood: I don't consider myself a kid in Hollywood, just for the fact that I don't involve myself with the Hollywood parties or hang out with other actors normally. All I do is enjoy my craft. I film movies, I act in movies. I enjoy that, and that's all of Hollywood that I'm a part of. I think that as far as the actors that are a part of Hollywood, it's probably more difficult to be a child actor.

A lot of influence comes from the parents. If he or she is raised well, then they're defenses are going to be higher, or stronger. If a child isn't raised well, with good values and priorities, they can easily be influenced by the negatives that Hollywood has to offer. I've got a wonderful mother who has raised me so well, I could never see myself getting "ruined" by Hollywood, as so many child actors have.

PI Member: Hi Elijah, Two questions... What kind of music do you like to listen to? And what do you like to do in your spare time? I love all your movies, especially AVALON and THE WAR. --Monicaa

Elijah Wood: Thanks, Monicaa! I like all types of music. Basically everything except for country, heavy metal and rap. Favorite bands: Smashing Pumpkins, the Beatles, Bjork, Radiohead, Liquid Soul. In my spare time, I rent movies, also go out to films. I spend time with my friends, take care of my dog, go out with family, go out to eat (because I love food!), and I also go to model class--models as in vinyl and plastic models. Right now I'm working with Emperor Palpatine from Star Wars. And I want to take photography, because I love photography.

Moderator: Ang Lee has directed a number of critically acclaimed films, including SENSE AND SENSIBILITY and EAT DRINK MAN WOMAN...

TK inChicago: What was it like to work with Ang Lee?

Elijah Wood: Ang was incredible to work with. The whole movie experience working on The Ice Storm was really amazing and completely different for me, because the approach to the film, and the filming process, was different. Being set in the '70s, there had to be a bit a research from that time period. A day before I flew into New York for a rehearsal, I received (from the production company) a 300-page packet of information about the '70s.

It also included a questionnaire for my character--questions pertaining to my relationship with my family, to how I relate to children in a social setting, to what my interests are--anything you can imagine, to go into the depth of the character. That was a new approach and a completely different way of thinking for me. Usually I create a character, and I get an idea of how I want to play it in my head, but not to that degree.

Not everything that we came up with was used for the character. Along with the packet and the questionnaire, I also sat down with Ang and a few of the other actors, including Christina Ricci and Adam Hann-Byrd, and we discussed, through the eyes of our characters, our relationship and how we got along, and where we stood as either a brother or a friend. It was quite an interesting process, and something I'll never forget.

Ang as a whole was just the sweetest and most wonderful man. It was just a great experience working with him, and to be a part of his vision, because he is truly brilliant.

sarahspoon: Are you going to college or are you going to focus on your career?

Elijah Wood: I'm actually going to do both. I feel a need to further my education. I truly value education, so I definitely want to go to college, but I don't want to quit acting for 2 or 4 years, just so I can go to college. I'm probably going to take classes that I can take on the road with me, so I can take the work on the road and finish it for the school. Interestingly, there are online colleges that offer plans like that.

But I haven't completely decided exactly what I'm going to do... but that is definitely one of my options, and I'm considering doing that.

TK inChicago: I read one preview of "The Ice Storm" that called it "devastatingly chilling!" My question: Is it harder or easier to act in a movie that deals with heavy emotional issues?

Elijah Wood: Well, it's more difficult to act in a movie with heavy emotional issues. What you're calling on yourself to do is pull up emotions that you don't normally experience or haven't experienced at all. That's where the acting comes in, and knowledge of that emotion has to come in. It's definitely difficult to convey feelings that you don't normally feel.

sarahspoon: What would you suggest for a teenage aspiring actor?

Elijah Wood: I would suggest that you truly want to act on your own and know that it's hard work. It's time consuming, and it takes a lot of patience, because rejection is a big part of it, through the audition process. So many actors try to make a career for themselves, and so many fail, even though they're really talented. And there's a lot of competition.

I look upon myself, and I see that I'm blessed and very fortunate to be where I am. I mean in feature films. I got to where I am in a period of just a few years, which is even more difficult in the field of feature films. A lot of child actors get their start on TV, which is a lot easier because you become well known much faster, being in people's living rooms one night a week.

LOVLIF: Hi Elijah, how old are you?

Elijah Wood: I'm 16 years old. I'll be 17 on January 28th.

sarahspoon: Do you want to be an actor your whole life, or would you like to pursue another career later in life?

Elijah Wood: Well, I want to be a part of the film industry for my whole life. In the last three years especially, I've really gained a higher appreciation for film in general. I love cinematography, I love good editing, I love directing.... I think film in general is just an amazing art form. And I love acting. I want to continue acting for a long time, but I can see myself branching out into other divisions.

GO4Word: What are your religious beliefs?

Elijah Wood: Well, I'm a Christian. I was raised a Christian. I'm not highly religious in some people's eyes because I don't go to church. It's not that I've made a choice saying that I do not want to go to church... It's more circumstantial than that. But since our family has not been to church in so long, it's not really something we've considered doing.

I don't feel that in order to be a "good Christian," that you have to go to church. You can be religious without going to church by just praying and living your life for God. And living your life by God's teachings, or the bible. It interesting...every bible for every religion says basically the same thing.

Moderator: Some of you may recall that our guest worked with Don Johnson and Melanie Griffith in PARADISE in 1991...

Starfox 55: Elijah what was it like to ride on a killer whale?

Elijah Wood: You know, some people confuse me with the kid in Free Willy. I don't know why. I didn't ride on a whale, but I sure did ride on a dolphin in "Flipper," and sure was great. It was an experience that I'll never forget. I'll always hold it close to me.

Chris81: Hey Elijah, you are a great actor! I'm pretty sure I've seen all your films. Which one was your favorite?

Elijah Wood: Wow. The Ice Storm is actually my favorite film. I think that Ang Lee did a brilliant job, and I was most pleased with the finished product. Up until I saw The Ice Storm, The War was my favorite.

Moderator: The Ice Storm opens later this month....

PiNkSuNiKKi: Do you have any bothers and sisters?

Elijah Wood: I do. I have one brother and one sister. My sister's name is Hannah, and she's 13 years old... almost 14 (she likes to say she's 14!) And I have a 23-year-old brother named Zacharia.

GO4Word: Are you getting paid for this?

Elijah Wood: I'm not. Am I? I don't even know! (laughing) You generally don't get paid for interviews.

PiNkSuNiKKi: How is it working with Christina Ricci?

Elijah Wood: Christina was great to work with. I was in only a few scenes with her, but I had a great time with her. She was great. We both had to endure quite an embarrassing moment, by practically sucking each others' faces! that was quite interesting... She was great to work with. I have no complaints.

PinkieAce: Were there ever times you felt like not pursuing your career any further?

Elijah Wood: There actually have been a few times. And I know that's interesting to say that, but those times were never really completely serious. There was only one major experience... They were all in periods when I wasn't acting. One particular time was when I was working on Forever Young.

I was quite young, and we were driving home from the set one night when I felt that I didn't want to continue acting. The reason being that I had gotten pretty nervous during the day because I was made to ad-lib all of lines for a particular scene. It was a lot of pressure. And acting at times can be a lot of pressure, so the few times I considered not acting any longer was because of that pressure.

But I can't stress enough that I'm doing this because I really love to do it. I'm not being forced by anyone. That's a very important thing.

jjkkot: What kinds of movies do you like?

Elijah Wood: I like all kinds of movies... character studies, dramas, comedies, I love foreign films, dark movies are fun to watch (as in Heavenly Creatures, Pulp Fiction, and the like). Independent films as a rule are amazing and inspiring. But I spend a lot of time at art house theaters. We have a theater out here called Laemmle, which has foreign and independent movies. (My mom just said I can't go there anymore! She's just kidding...)

jjkkot: Can you go anywhere without getting recognized?

Elijah Wood: Sure. I think. See, the people out here in Los Angeles see enough actors that they're not really fazed by it. A lot of people will just stare and not really say anything. Yes, I get recognized a lot times, but people don't necessarily say anything. The really cool people won't ask me if I'm Elijah Wood, they'll just treat me like a normal person. They'll say they really like my work, keep up the good work, things like that.

MafiaGirl: What do you like best about acting?

Elijah Wood: I just love the fact that I can put myself into another person's shoes, that I can completely become the character (not necessarily off-camera). It's so similar to playing house or make-believe. You're just playing somebody else, and it's so great, and it's so much fun. And it can be quite a challenge.

TayAllTheWay: Elijah, I know this isn't a question, but I thought I'd tell you anyways... I've seen almost all your movies, and I think you are a wonderful actor, honestly.

VSiLLyGiRLV : Hello Elijah, I saw you in a movie a few years back with Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson. I believe it was called Paradise. What was it like working with a team like that?

Elijah Wood: It was great working with Melanie and Don. They were a lot of fun, especially Melanie. They were really friendly to me, and at the time they were really friendly to each other, so it was a good experience. They had two really large buses and had their kids with them, so I would go on their bus and hang out with their kids. Melanie is a great mother and a really sweet person. She's really down to earth. I wish her all the luck.

BlueSockgrl: Okay...I have to know, Boxers or Briefs?

Elijah Wood: Boxers. I just love boxers so much, so I can promote them.

Moderator: Thanks for the fine question, BlueSockgrl... : - )

baby25: {{}}'s luvz n lolipopz, keep up the good work :)

WuzzIe5: Are you planning to do any charity work anytime soon?

Elijah Wood: The thing with charity work... I haven't done a whole lot, but I want to do more. There's a simple rule: the more you give, the more you get back. Things that touch me... LeAnn Rimes went to a hospital where a girl was in a coma, and she sang to her. The girl woke up a few days later, but didn't remember anything about meeting her.

The only problem I have with how some people do charity work is that some actors do it with a lot of cameras and a lot of press around them, which makes them look really good, but I don't think that's how to do it. I think you need to do these things privately, without the press.

lalaorange16: Elijah, who was the most powerful person you've worked with and what do you think you learned from them?

Elijah Wood: Well that's kind of difficult. Power in what sense? It could be spiritual power, emotional power, someone who is very wise and intelligent. Some of the more powerful people, as far as intelligence goes, would be Richard Dreyfuss. I worked with him on Oliver Twist, which is going to be on ABC on November 9th. He was inspiring because of his amazing wisdom and intelligence.

He came up with so many great ideas, his mind was always working. I really respect that and find it inspiring. And when I meet someone as intelligent as he is, it only makes me want to further my education and life experience to try to equal what he is.

BlueSockgrl: What is your favorite word?

Elijah Wood: I love words. I think they're amazing, especially really complicated words, which can hold so much more meaning than some simple words. I think that as far as an expression of something that is artistically incredible, I like the word brilliant. But it's interesting that in Ireland and England, the word "brilliant" is close to the equivalent of "cool." But I also like the word "persnickety," which means finicky with details. I don't use it very often, but I like it.

Moderator: We have time for one or two final questions with Elijah Wood...

Suhwheat: One last question from me---->who's the actress/actor that you most look up too?

Elijah Wood: Tim Roth is a favorite of mine, just because I think he's so versatile. As a rule, versatility is what I find to be the most important aspect to what an actor does. Anybody who is versatile and can pull it off well is what I aspire to be. And Tim Roth is one of them.

Paigey Babes: Does it ever bother you that you got started in show business at such a young age?

Elijah Wood: No! gosh... I wouldn't change anything about my career, nothing. It doesn't bother me. I think what the question is asking is: Did I miss out on the opportunity to be a "normal kid?" We create our own normality. Acting to me is normal because this is what I've been doing for so long, and this is what I love.

There's a cliche on what is normal, like going to school, having sleepovers with friends. The only thing I'm really missing out on is going to normal school and being with kids every day. But that's a sacrifice I'm willing to make.

Actually, I feel that I'm getting a better education due to that sacrifice, because all my education is one-on-one with a tutor, or by myself, being turned loose into the world of knowledge. And I truly think that one really good friend is so much better than 30 acquaintances.

Really good friends will stay with you for a long time, and that's so much more important than just having acquaintances.

Moderator: Thanks for chatting with us tonight, Elijah. This really has been great fun. We really appreciate your time and we wish you the best of luck with THE ICE STORM... And thanks to all of the members for some great questions. If you missed any part of tonight's chat, you can Jump: CHAT TRANSCRIPTS in a few days for a complete transcript.

We have a closing message coming from Elijah...

Elijah Wood: Good night everybody... thank you so much for your support, and I'll see you in the movies, as they say! It was a fun evening, and I enjoyed answering your questions.

Moderator: Thanks again, Elijah! And thanks to all of the Prodigy members for spending some time with us tonight. Enjoy your weekend! Until next time, Good night from New York and Los Angeles!