Elijah Wood on ‘Lord of the Rings’ at 20

For more than two decades, the actor Elijah wood kept a pair of furry hobbit feet in the same box they were given to him.

It was right after the shooting of the Peter Jackson movie The Lord of the Rings Trilogy wrapped up in New Zealand, and he doesn’t remember if the feet are a new set or what he wore on screen as Frodo, the valiant hero of small stature tasked with destroying a malicious band of gold.

“I’m sure that over time they will degrade because I don’t think latex lasts forever,” Wood said by phone from Los Angeles. “But they were in good shape the last time I looked at them.”

The Strange Memory remains a tangible reminder of the unusual production in which the three Fantastic Epics, adapted from the novels by JRR Tolkien, were shot one after another for 16 months, followed by three years of occasional filming and of fall advertising tours.

A semblance of finality only arrived in 2004, when the third installment, “The Return of the King” swept through the Oscars, winning 11 trophies, including Best Picture.

It wasn’t the trilogy’s first contact with Oscar. The first chapter, “The Fellowship of the Ring,” which was recently added to the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress, won four statuettes after its release on December 19, 2001. Twenty years later, now aged Wood 40-year-old remembers the monumental film adventure. Below are edited excerpts from the conversation.

When you think of the “Lord of the Rings” movies and how they redefined your career, what memories do you hold most vividly?

A lot of times what I think about are the moments in between, not just the amazing sets with hundreds of extras in Orcish outfits, which is certainly an extraordinary thing, but the seemingly mundane moments, like getting hobbit’s feet taken off. because we had to leave the set because it started to snow. We are sitting at the hotel above a washer and dryer, teasing our feet with a glass of whiskey. Or go on weekend surf trips with other Hobbits and Orlando [Bloom, who played the elf Legolas] and the camaraderie and everyday life that we had. We all left the variety of places we came from and lived together in New Zealand. Twenty years later, we’re still connected that way, even though we haven’t seen each other for a long time.

When did you feel that this episode of your life was over? Was it difficult to leave behind such a transformative achievement?

The deepest moment I felt like I was pulling away from it and wondering what to do next came after the main photograph. It was then that we were all most exhausted. We were intensely invested in the world of the film we were making, and then suddenly we were no longer, which is often the case when we make a film: we are in this microcosm, and then we are thrown towards the other end of it. And then you are back in your reality. It was this experience multiplied by a great degree. My life experience was so defined by being in New Zealand with this group of people that the sudden change in being at home felt very abrupt. I just wanted to keep working on things that were really small and very different from “The Lord of the Rings”. I felt quite sad to see it all come to an end, but also ready to move on with my life and have new experiences.

Close sibling relationships between men like the one Frodo and Sam have in the trilogy are more common now in the media. What did you think of this friendship between these two characters at the time?

My reading about it was pretty much amazing company. While my character of Frodo is considered this hero, there is even more true heroism in Sam [the hobbit played by Sean Astin] and the way he picks up the pieces from which Frodo cannot go any further. These two needed each other, and Frodo certainly needed Sam. There was a real understanding of that. When I first met Sean, we were both having our wigs adjusted at a hotel in LA. I immediately gave her a hug and just said, “Hey!” because I knew who he was. We hugged because we knew we were about to take this amazing journey together, both as actors with other actors, but there was also this hunch of “You and I are going to do too. this trip together. ” It was extremely true. Much of what we see in the film, both in our relationship and in others, reflects the reality of what we were going through. The power of storytelling lies in our own relationship to what is expressed. I have heard many different perspectives on Sam and Frodo from the LGBTQ community, but also from people who have had addiction issues with Gollum.

Frodo is a rather vulnerable creature with an unimaginable burden on his shoulders. What have you learned from being her for so long?

One of the big messages from the books when it comes to Frodo and hobbits in general is the feeling that even the smallest person, not just in size but in terms of what they think they can do, is capable of greatness. , to have a real change, to have a real impact. What Frodo faced seemed overwhelming, and yet he was able to accomplish it in large part through kindness, kindness, purity of heart, and perhaps innocence. These are the things that Hobbits embody, and basically why they are able to resist the Ring’s corruption longer than humans. But what makes Frodo unique is a way of seeing the world without any form of cynicism. There is also the courage, perhaps even blind courage, of not necessarily knowing what to expect and therefore not allowing yourself to be afraid. If there is one thing I have to learn from all of this, it is that there is courage in his vision that makes it all possible.

Do you think these films could be made today as they were then?

There was a great feeling of lack of supervision. Peter and the bigger crew were allowed to make the films as they wanted without too much outside perspective. That’s not to say the studio wasn’t scared or didn’t invest. They knew the risk of making these films back to back. I don’t know if he would be able to do them the same way now. Look, the internet is different too. There was less control over the films. We knew less about them. We were able to make films in a bubble. We had some weird issues, like there would be photographers on a hill, but it was pretty minor. [Laughs.] I don’t know if that would be possible now. Now the world is online and just about anyone has access to anything, anything.

Has being perpetually associated with the “Lord of the Rings” ever been overwhelming?

I accepted a long time ago that I would be linked to Frodo forever, so I don’t mind. Honestly, it would be such a sad burden if it did. [Laughs.] I’m so used to people on the streets calling me Frodo and not calling me by my name. It’s representative of one of the greatest experiences of my life, movies I love and memories I will cherish forever. At the end of my life, that’s what I’ll probably be tied to more than anything. I can only equate it with similar scenarios like Mark Hamill or Harrison Ford. They are associated with their classic [“Star Wars”] characters more than others. Now that we are on the precipice of 20 years, which is so hard to fathom, my reflection is one of such gratitude and love that I will never be upset to be associated with these movies or to see them. ‘to be the greatest of people’s memories of who I am.