Elijah Wood has been riding high for the past year since his film THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING proved to be such a huge success in 2001. Now the second picture in the RINGS trilogy, THE TWO TOWERS, is set to premiere next Wednesday, and it is all but assured that the film will outdo even its predecessor.
Wood's character, the Hobbit Frodo Baggins, is probably the figure who changes most throughout the course of the three film series. When we first meet him in FELLOWSHIP he is an innocent Hobbit without a care in the world, but once he comes into possession of the powerful ring of the title, his character begins a slow transformation into tragic darkness. For Wood, it was a difficult process to enactconsidering that all three films were more or less shot together, but out of sequence.
The actor explains that understanding where each film stands in J.R.R. Tolkien's larger story helped the actors during the shoot.
"I see the second film as being really the beginning of the journey whereas the first film is the set-up of understanding what is at stake," he says. "Understanding that the ring is this dangerous thing that can potentially destroy all of Middle-earth, establishing those that will essentially take this ring to Mordor to destroy it, and then the realization of Frodo that he can't do this with the group of nine, that he has to do it on his own... [FELLOWSHIP] takes you to that moment where the decision is made and the journey begins and that is where we pick up [with this film]the journey really setting off."
"F--k it if it does," says the actor. "I don't think it is going to create a controversy... I am very proud of Viggo for saying what he said. I think not many people are saying that, not many people are raising questions. I always think it is important to question even your government, especially your government actually... I am not going to sit here and agree with every single word that Viggo said but I think it is important to question, and I think he used a very good venue. I always find it a little weird when celebrities take that opportunity and often I think it is the wrong place, like awards shows and things and people are like, I am going to make my political statement now. I always find that to be inappropriate and it takes away from the evening that is sort of at hand, whereas Charlie Rose is often a political forum and so it was actually a cool kind of tie-in and an appropriate time to make those kinds of points."
But back to the subject of wizards and Hobbits. Perhaps the most interestingand excitingaspect of the new film is the character of Gollum, the long-lived and miserable former keeper of the Ring who was only briefly glimpsed in FELLOWSHIP but plays a huge part in TWO TOWERS. Realized through the magic of CG effects, this is no Jar Jar Binksunlike that Lucasian abomination, Gollum is a real character, one that evokes an emotional response not just from the human actors around him, but also from the audience watching the film. In fact, RINGS studio New Line is talking up the possibility that actor Andy Serkis, who voiced the character (as well as acted out most of his physicality before being animated over in CG) might be nominated for a Supporting Actor Oscareven though we never see him on screen! One of the reasons why Gollum is so successful as a character is because of his relationship with Wood's Frodo.
The other crucial relationship for the Frodo character in these films is with his fellow Hobbit Sam, played by Sean Astin. In fact, the two characters are so close that at times their sexuality has even be questioned!
"The thing about Frodo and Sam is there has been speculation about those characters and the nature of that relationship since the book was released," says Wood. "Certainly more so during the '60s and '70s when that social atmosphere in terms of homosexuality was a little bit more popular, but I think it is up for interpretation. I, however, don't think it was written with that intention. It was two people that care about each other and rely on each other in a way that you don't really see anymore; I don't think there is anything wrong with a relationship like that. There is certainly nothing wrong with Frodo and Sam being homosexuals but I don't think that they are. It is interestingI think it is cool if people want to talk about that and draw those comparisons, but it isn't actually how we saw it, certainly not how Sean and I played the roles."
"I knew that it was going to be special," he says of the trilogy. "I didn't assume it was going to be one of the greatest movies of all time, but it was completely unique, the idea that we were doing three movies at one time and we were going to unleash this trilogy to the world after being in New Zealand for 16 months. There was something very special about that and once we got to New Zealand and realized the environment that we were making it in and how talented everybody was and the passion and love that was being poured into it, we knew it was going to be something incredible. Now having seen the first one, knowing how good the second movie is and having no doubt in my mind that the third movie is going to blow all of them away, yeah, maybe [the trilogy is something important]. We will have to see. I don't like making those calls, that it is going to be seen as a classic, because I love them. I think they are incredibly special, beautiful movies that are entertaining, but also have beautiful things to say and you can kind of escape to this other world for a few hours."