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“Hooligans” – The seven sins according to Elijah Wood
“There’s nothing wrong with a bit of bold sex.”|
“The seven sins? I know them very well.” Elijah Wood takes a drag from his herb flavored cigarette, blows out a cloud that smells like ginger and sits up straight. “I was raised Catholic. Well, not that my mother wanted to make a priest out of me or anything.” Fragile looking Wood, who, since the success of ‘The Lord of the Rings’ trilogy can call himself a word star, gives us a wide smile. “You could call me a catholic light.”
When you watch his latest film, the violent footballdrama ‘Hooligans’, you wouldn’t be able to tell that Wood (24) has a catholic background. He plays an American student who travels to Londen where he gets involved in the world of football hooliganism. It doesn’t take a long time before he transfers into a fanatic fighter who loves to beat the shit out of people. “In a way, I can understand those hooligans”, Wood says. “It does give you a huge kick.” We think it’s about time for an extensive confession.
Humo: What drives a hooligan? Anger?
Elijah Wood: I’ve met a lot of real hooligans and the most fascinating thing about them is that almost all of them are living a double life. During the week, they take their kids to school and are going to work. But on Saturday, they transfer into real fight machines. From the moment they are sitting in the pub together or are going to the stadium, they feel the aggression sipping into their bodies that they really need to get out. And that means just one thing: fight!
I think hooligans are addicted to the adrenaline rush they feel when they are beating the shit out of someone else. And it’s not just the fighting that causes those rushes, they also enjoy the preparation. From going to the stadium, the atmosphere in the stadium, the teasing and hooting of the other team. But the most important moment of the day is of course the fighting.
I’ve seen it myself when I went to the game from West Ham against Millwall. I’m not a football fan but I was immediately drawn in to the atmosphere and the energy I felt. The fans of Millwall were hooting at me and shouting the dirtiest terms of abuse. And I have to admit that works great: within minutes I just started to hoot back at them (laughs). At that moment, I perfectly understood why someone can feel attracted to the lifestyle of hooligans. After the game, there were some heavy fights. But to make things clear: I was not involved in those.”
Humo: You are short and fragile. Were you never afraid of those hooligans?
Elijah Wood: Not at all. Those men are really not more aggressive than you and me. They can behave very arrogant especially when they had a bit too much to drink. But I was never afraid of them. I just took part in the drinking (laughs).
Humo: ‘Hooligans’ is a very controversial film. Some critics are even calling it a recruitment film for hooligans.
Elijah Wood: The people who are saying that, don’t understand the story. I admit, my character, Matt, learns what loyalty means and what it means to stand up for your friends. But that doesn’t mean it’s alright to be a hooligan. The movie just shows that hooligans do have a lot to lose.
I like it a lot that Lexi Alexander, our director, has shown the fights in a very realistic way. You’re not getting a kick out of the violence, which is often the case in Tarantino movies. Believe me, this movie does not encourage people to become hooligans.
Humo: Have you ever hit someone?
Elijah Wood: No, I’m a very peaceful man.
Humo: So there’s never a moment when you’re getting mad at people?
Elijah Wood: Yes there is: when I see that my friends or family are treated badly. When I hear someone say something mean about my sister for instance, I can get very mad.
Humo: Aren’t you going crazy when someone yells for the millionth time ‘Frodo! Frodo! Frodo! at you?
Elijah Wood: I don’t have any problems with that. Of course, it’s not always fun that people I don’t know start talking to me but I do understand where it comes from. In fact, I only start to realize now how important ‘Lord of the Rings’ has been for a lot of people.
Elijah Wood: I think it would be awesome to be able to be part of a band like Radiohead, I have a lot of admiration for Thom Yorke. But I don’t really envy him. It’s already fantastic that I got the opportunity to meet him.
You know what I can be jealous of? Of people who can draw and paint. Taking a piece of white paper, sit down on a chair and create a wonderful drawing out of nowhere. I would love to be able to do that. On the set of ‘Sin City’, I was often looking at Arthur Miller with envy. Every now and then, he took his sketchbook and drew a scène in just a few seconds. I was so jealous of him.
Humo: When was the last time when you saw a movie and though: damn, it should have been me playing that part.
Elijah Wood: That almost never happens. Yesterday, I saw ‘Me and you and Everyone we Know’ and I loved it but that doesn’t mean that, while I was watching it, I was constantly thinking: shit, I should’ve been in that movie. It’s great the way it is, you understand?
I can even enjoy a movie when I’ve auditioned for a certain role but didn’t get it. A few years ago, I was auditioning for a role in ‘Rushmore’, but director Wes Anderson gave it to Jason Schwartzman. Well, that’s no reason for me to hate ‘Rushmore’. To the contrary, I love it and I think Jason has done a wonderful job! I know a lot of actors who refuse to go and see a movie when they did not get to be a part of it, but I’m not like that at all.
Humo: We can’t really accuse you of being lazy. In the past four years, you’ve played in eight movies.
Elijah Wood: I like to work and I like to work hard. I’m also very punctual: I don’t think I’ve ever been too late on the set or for a meeting. But when I’m home and have nothing to do, I change into de biggest lazy-bones in the world. I just lie on the couch or walk around the house. And I’m surely not doing anything productive (laughs).
Humo: It’s remarkable that, since you’ve played in ‘Lord of the Rings’, you’ve mainly picked small, independent movies like ‘Ash Wednesday’, ‘Try Seventeen’, ‘Hooligans’ and ‘Everything is Illuminated’. Do you want to take some distance from the huge productions?
Elijah Wood: Yes. I’m still trying to kick off from ‘Lord of the Rings’. It was amazing to be part of such a big production, but now I prefer to concentrate on making smaller and more intimate movies. They also don’t take that much time to do.
Wood: I admit: I can be very greedy. Especially when it comes to music. I like to spend a lot of money on cd’s or records.
Humo: I read somewhere that you own 2.000 cd’s.
Elijah Wood: Correction: 3.000. I’m obsessed by music. When I don’t listen to music or going to concerts, I’m thinking about music or am talking about it.
Humo: I like to stuff myself with meatballs with tomato sauce. What about you?
Elijah Wood: Chocolate bars! I really can’t stay away from them.
Humo: What about alcohol?
Elijah Wood: I can have quite a lot but I’m not a alcoholic. At least, I tell that to myself (laughs).
Humo: I read somewhere that you’ve dressed up as Bacchus, the god of wine, once.
Elijah Wood: Yes, that’s true. In New Orleans, they have the yearly Mardi Gras parade in February and every year they ask someone to be King of Bacchus. Last year, I got the honor. They dressed me up in some sort of carnival suit and I had to sit on a throne and was ridden all over town. A wonderful experience but it would be wrong to say that I’m an excessive wine drinker. In fact, I rather drink whisky.
Humo: Your favorite drug?
Elijah Wood: Music. And chocolate bars.
Elijah Wood: I’m not at all busy with money. A satisfied nod from a director makes me a lot happier than a lot of money.
Humo: You’ve recently started your own record label. What are your plans with that?
Elijah Wood: O, I see that very small. I just want to give small bands I believe in an opportunity, that’s all. My record label is born out of love for music, not out of love of money.
I also plan to produce films. I see my work as a producer as something very pure: I want to help young, promising directors wherever I can.
Humo: It looks like Hollywood is all centered around the box office. Is greed the biggest sin of Hollywood?
Elijah Wood: I’m afraid it is. Most of the studio’s are owned by big multinationals who see Hollywood as the money cow. The result is that Hollywood is almost always producing bad movies.
But the systems starts to fail. Michael Bay (director of ‘The Rock’, ‘Armageddon’ and ‘Pearl Harbor’) just had his first failure. ‘The Island’ didn’t even make enough money to cover the costs. Action films are bringing in less and less money, I think that’s because the audience is slowly starting to get a bit more intelligent and longs for better, meaningful movies. Well, that’s what I hope at least. You know what my biggest wish is? That the audience would finally stop to accept everything what Hollywood is giving them and that they would go to a cinema where they show quality movies. God, let that come true!
But we’re not there yet. I notice that myself: I like to be part of small, meaningful films but it’s getting very hard to get them financed. The studio’s only want to invest in films when they have pretty much a guarantee that they would get their money back. The result is that a lot of artists are very frustrated these days.
Humo: Even Woody Allen has to move to England to make his movies.
Elijah Wood: Allen is not the only director who’s not very popular in Hollywood. Take Brian De Palma. He has recently made ‘The black dahlia’, an adaptation of James Ellroy’s book. The story is set in Los Angeles but De Palma couldn’t get any money for he project in the US so he had to move to Italy to make his film. That’s difficult to accept. Brian De Palma not getting any money anymore? Hello?
Humo: You just said that you’re not in the business because of the money. Pretend that they offer you ten million dollar to play the leading role in a Michael Bay movie.
Elijah Wood: I would not accept it unless the script is amazing. I’m not an idiot: I’d love to earn such a huge amount of money. But no way I’m even thinking about being a part of such a stupid Michael Bay film. I only want to take roles where I really believe in. And if that means that I’m stuck with small, independent films that nobody’s interested in for the rest of my life, than I can live with that.
Humo: Did your price go up after ‘Lord of the Rings’?
Elijah Wood: Yes, but that’s just in theory. I usually work for independent directors who can’t afford to pay me a lot so I’m forced to lower my price. I’ll never get rich like that (laughs).
Humo: You don’t seem to suffer from pride or vanity. To the contrary: you’re very modest. Is that modesty in your genes?
Elijah Wood: You have to thank my mother for that. She always made sure that I would stay away from vanity. I own my success to her.
Humo: You’ve been working in Hollywood since you were 7 years old. It doesn’t always end well for child stars: just look at Macauley Culkin. Why is it that things have never went wrong with you?
Elijah Wood: My mother again. She knew that I wanted to be an actor and she did everything to help me make my dream come true. She took me to Los Angeles and found me a good manager who could help me to get some work. But she always wanted me to become a good person. She has always told me that friendship and family are a lot more important than money and success. She also made sure that I wasn’t hanging around on the set after work. We always went home immediately when shooting was over so we also had a normal family life.
Elijah Wood: As long as two people take a mutual decision to sleep together, I don’t see what’s wrong with that. There are cases where sex can lead to impure behavior. When you’re addicted to it for instance. That can lead to a lot of problems. But just making love: there’s nothing wrong with that even not when it’s a bit bold. A bit of impurity within a relationship is even healthy.
Humo: Shall we do a small test to check if you are guilty of impurity?
Elijah Wood: Bring it on!
Humo: When you see a very attractive woman do you go and talk to her or do you feel the need to drop hot wax on your private parts?
Elijah Wood: I would try to start a conversation with her. I have to admit that I’m not very skilled in that though. I rather prefer to meet women in a more spontaneous surrounding: in a bar or with friends. But just approaching a woman and start flirting. No, I don’t do that. At least, not often.
Humo: How would you describe an orgasm? Like the most beautiful sensation a human can experience or as the finger of Satan?
Elijah Wood: The first. Absolutely sure! I’m maybe raised catholic and in a certain sense, I’m also very religious, but after I had sex, I’m definitely not going to feel guilty.
Humo: How many people have shared your bed? More than two or less than two?
Elijah Wood: More than two.
Humo: What’s the perfect background music when you want to make love? Marvin Gaye or Metallica?
Elijah Wood: It depends. Although Metallica is never good as background music when you’re having sex. Stronger even: Metallica isn’t good for anything. (laughs) But I wouldn’t go for Marvin Gaye either, much too predictable.
I have to say that I almost never play music when I’m having sex. And if I do, it would be something from Chet Baker, Miles Davis, Billie Holliday or Al Green.
Humo: Pretend you’re in a hotel and you can hear the people in the room next to yours having sex. Are you going to listen to them or do you put some cotton-wool in your ears?
Elijah Wood: Hmm, I think I’m going to put my iPod on.
Humo: I think you’re getting a very average score: you’re not a perv but I wouldn’t call you a saint either.
Elijah Wood: I can live with that.
To be honest, I can’t see what’s wrong with a bit of impurity, a bit of gluttony or anger or all those other sins. We all make ourselves guilty of those to some degree but that doesn’t mean we’re sinners. I even think it’s healthy to have a bit of sin in your life.
Humo: That’s exactly how we think about it. Go now in peace!
- Translated and typed up by Brenda (Cristiel)