Never underestimate a hobbit. Elijah Wood, along with a few swashbuckling buddies, has taken over the box office: ”Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers” grossed more than $100 million in its first five days of release and snagged Golden Globes nominations for Best Picture and Best Director (Peter Jackson). Not bad for a 21-year-old former child star. EW.com talked to Wood about elfin superstardom, his hunk costar Viggo Mortensen, and why his ”LOTR” journey warranted a painful, and permanent, souvenir.
Has the insane level of stardom you’ve achieved with these films become overwhelming yet?
I think I was lucky because I’ve dealt with fame to a much smaller degree for a little while, and I’ve been able to adapt as I’ve gotten older. But nothing can prepare you for this. People recognize you, and you just keep moving. But the bonus is that this opens doors for all of us that weren’t open before and kind of allows us to continue doing what we’re doing on a larger scale.
Having worked with the same cast and crew for three films in a row, was it hard saying goodbye when filming was completed earlier this year?
Absolutely. I remember when we first started breaking up into little groups for filming as the storyline separated us, and even that was hard because we became so close. We’re the only ones who will know what it was like to be in New Zealand for that length of time bringing these incredible books to the screen. Even now it’s difficult to part when we spend time together. It goes so far beyond making a movie.
When you weren’t wiping off orc slime and running for your life, did you ever get a chance to whoop it up off the set?
We did try to go out and relieve tension, go to bars and that sort of thing. And crazy things would happen. We had a scale double, Kieran, and Viggo [Mortensen] would chase him down and attack him. And one night, when Sean Bean and Viggo were drinking, they decided to break into Orlando [Bloom]’s hotel room and kidnap him, dragging him screaming down the stairs. It was absolutely delightful.
”Two Towers” digs a little deeper into Aragorn’s love life (he’s torn between an Elvish woman and a human royal). Does Viggo know he’s making millions of women swoon?
I don’t think he can’t be aware. But I’m sure it’s something he doesn’t want to focus on. It probably embarrasses him and freaks him out a bit. He has no airs about him, and things like being successful or recognized aren’t what attracts him to what he does. I really don’t think he has any time for them.
Word has it that you and the other members of the fellowship got your very own ”Lord of the Rings” tattoos. Whose bright idea was that?
I think Orlando is taking credit for it now. But at this point, I don’t know who’s actually responsible. We had an idea early on to do it, but I think some people wanted to make sure that the movie was a good experience before they branded themselves for life. Then the idea cropped up closer to the end of filming, and everyone was pretty unanimous in wanting to do it. So we all decided to get the number nine, for the nine members of the fellowship, written in Elvish. One of the artists on the movie showed us some designs and we settled on one.
Why get a tattoo? Wouldn’t a less painful keepsake do?
We felt so passionate about this movie, the experience of filming it, and about having become friends with each other. We really wanted to remain fellowship members for the rest of our lives, and this was a way to acknowledge all that we’d been through together. We will always have that, and we’ll always know what it meant.