Date: November, 2001
You would think that after squaring off against Middle-earth's most malevolent forces and weathering a gruelling shoot on what's being touted as 2001's last and greatest sure fire mega-blockbuster, nothing could throw actor Elijah Wood for a loop. But in the end, it wasn't the insidious Gollum or the Dark Lord Sauron who got the drop on the LA resident turned Hobbit hero. Instead, it was something much more common.
"I'm sorry, I have a bit of a cold today," apologizes Wood before insisting on proceeding with a phone interview.
No problem. No mere virus can dampen his enthusiasm for New Line Cinema's version of The Lord of the Rings. Yet for Wood, the real adrenaline rush began long before the movie trailer sent fans frothing at the mouth. While filming the teen Sci-Fi invasion flick The Faculty, Wood caught wind that The Lord of the Rings trilogy was receiving Tinsel Town's golden treatment. Wood resolved to be part of the Hollywood production, taking a creative gamble that paid off big time.
"I didn't follow the general path in getting this role," reveals Wood. "My agent called and said `you have to put yourself on tape immediately because they are looking for English actors' so I decided to do my own video. I got a book to research what a Hobbit looked like and then went to a costume store for the wardrobe.
"My friend George Huang shot the scene from different angles which we cut together for the video. The next day, I went to the casting office and gave them my tape. The initial reaction was really positive but I didn't hear Pete's reaction until a few weeks later. Then, I had to re-audition in front of a white screen, and a few months later, I got the part."
Of course, fans and critics already knew the young actor possessed the right stuff. Movie guru Roger Ebert even once praised him as `the most talented actor in his age group in Hollywood history.' But now as Frodo Baggins, the lead character of The Lord of the Rings, the five-foot-six actor is about to hit a new plateau of fame.
With six weeks of prep, not to mention the sixteen month shooting schedule, the Lord of the Ringscast became close very quickly. To commemorate their strong brotherly bond, Wood and his three fellow Hobbits, Sean Astin, Elijah Wood and Dominic Monaghan each had an elvish designed number 7 tattooed on various parts of their bodies.
"The fellowship at the end of the movie became the fellowship in real life," explains Wood. "The actors involved were collectively passionate about Tolkien's world, and I've made true friends for life..."