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  For latest role, the eyes did it
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   Author  Topic: For latest role, the eyes did it  (Read 651 times)
Caz
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For latest role, the eyes did it
« on: September 19, 2005, 12:35:06 pm »

By John Hartl

With his spiky hair, elfin sideburns and all-but-transparent complexion, Elijah Wood looks like a refugee from Middle-earth. But in the two years since he last appeared as Frodo Baggins in Peter Jackson's "Lord of the Rings" movies, he's been many other people.

Now 24, he followed up the trilogy by playing a memory-loss technician in "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," a sadistic cannibal in "Sin City," a disgraced Harvard student who joins a British fight club in "Green Street Hooligans," and an American-Jewish vegetarian who visits the Ukraine in "Everything Is Illuminated."

He's playing the voice of a penguin in "Happy Feet," a new animated musical from "Babe's" creator, George Miller, and he hopes to appear in Emilio Estevez's "Bobby," about the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy.

While he still calls Los Angeles home, his movie assignments have taken him to Prague, Czech Republic; London; Vancouver, B.C.; Australia; New Zealand; and even Seattle (where he filmed "Child in the Night" in 1990).

"It's hard to find movies that actually film in L.A. these days," he said during a Seattle visit, shortly before taking "Everything Is Illuminated" to the Venice and Toronto film festivals (it opens here Friday). Based on a semi-autobiographical 2002 novel by Jonathan Safran Foer, it was shot in Prague and marks the writing-directing debut of veteran actor Liev Schreiber, who starred in the remake of "The Manchurian Candidate."

"I didn't know Foer's book, but I loved the script, I loved the story, and the character of Jonathan, this kind of neurotic, socially uncomfortable character," said Wood. "The exchanges between him and the other characters were so endearing and funny."

After a two-hour meeting with Schreiber, who claims he cast Wood because he couldn't think of anyone in show business with more expressive eyes, Wood was sold on making the movie. The other roles are played by unknowns, including gypsy-punk-rock musician Eugene Hutz as Jonathan's irrepressible Ukrainian translator and guide Alex, whose twisted English and obsessions with American pop culture provide much of the humor.

"Eugene and I are very different in a lot of ways, so it wasn't that difficult to establish our differences in the film," said Wood. "When Liev met him, he realized quite quickly that he embodied quite a lot of the character of Alex. In fact, I believe Eugene himself said 'I am that guy' in that meeting. I believe he'd done some regional theater, but he'd never been in a film before."

Schreiber had been writing a similar story about his grandfather when he read an excerpt from Foer's book in The New Yorker. He decided that Foer's version was funnier, so he put his own story aside and adapted Foer's.

About a month into shooting, Foer showed up on the set and stayed around for a few days. Wood said he wasn't intimidated because he wasn't really playing Foer: "The character is based on him, but it was Liev's interpretation."

Watching a fellow actor direct for the first time was "an education" for Wood. Indeed, he'd like to direct at some point: "I feel that for the past 16 years, I've been going to film school."

It's been that long since he made his debut, in a minor role in "Back to the Future II," and he's demonstrated a Teflon-like ability to survive expensive turkeys ("Radio Flyer," "North") as well as offbeat films that played to small audiences ("The Ice Storm," "The Good Son"). He's played Huck Finn and the Artful Dodger, he helped revive Flipper's career, and he's appeared in several straight-to-video movies ("Chain of Fools," which he made just before his New Zealand adventure, is one of his faves).

Wood can't imagine what his career would have been like if he hadn't played Frodo. He was 18 when he first visited New Zealand, and it was "an important time in my life. I was living on my own and establishing my own life, and I made the greatest friends in my life." He also wonders if he could have handled the "Lord of the Rings" experience at a younger age.

"I started when I was 8 years old, and I was never massively famous immediately," he said. "I had an incredible mother, and a solid base to go home to. I was never locked into a huge film when I was 10 or 11, I was never genre-specific, I was never strictly kid-oriented. That's the best explanation I can come up with."

Here's another: a contagious passion for his profession that he couldn't stifle if he wanted to.

When he flew to Australia to put in a couple of days' work on "Happy Feet," he couldn't resist stopping by New Zealand to check out Jackson's latest epic, "King Kong." He walked on the set, unannounced, and found the same "Lord of the Rings" crew of technicians working on the new picture.

"I saw about 20 minutes of it," he said, his eyes opening wide. "The movie's going to be amazing."

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/artsentertainment/2002500159_elijahwood18.html?syndication=rss&source=seattletimes.xml&items=158
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Re:For latest role, the eyes did it
« Reply #1 on: September 19, 2005, 04:52:22 pm »

Very interesting article, thank you Carina
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Re:For latest role, the eyes did it
« Reply #2 on: September 19, 2005, 05:41:31 pm »


Quote:
When Liev met him, he realized quite quickly that he embodied quite a lot of the character of Alex. In fact, I believe Eugene himself said 'I am that guy' in that meeting.


Eugene is so perfect for that movie.  hard to believe he is not an actor.
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Re:For latest role, the eyes did it
« Reply #3 on: September 19, 2005, 11:13:49 pm »

Interesting article, Carina!! Thank you so much!!
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Caz
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Re:For latest role, the eyes did it
« Reply #4 on: September 20, 2005, 07:26:06 am »

You're very welcome and I'm glad you liked the article, I really liked it too.

There's just one thing I'm wondering; what does the word turkey mean in the following context?: "and he's demonstrated a Teflon-like ability to survive expensive turkeys"

Thankyou.
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Re:For latest role, the eyes did it
« Reply #5 on: September 20, 2005, 09:10:41 am »

Very Interesting article! I like it alot! Thanks for posting Carina!
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Re:For latest role, the eyes did it
« Reply #6 on: September 20, 2005, 08:37:19 pm »

You're very welcome Marleen!
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Re:For latest role, the eyes did it
« Reply #7 on: September 21, 2005, 12:04:19 am »


Quote from: Carina on September 20, 2005, 07:26:06 am   

There's just one thing I'm wondering; what does the word turkey mean in the following context?: "and he's demonstrated a Teflon-like ability to survive expensive turkeys"

A "turkey" is American slang for something that's a dud, unsuccessful, not good.  And nothing sticks to a pan that is Teflon coated.  So what is means is that he has a great ability to survive movies that were expensive to make, but didn't do well in theatrical release.


And speaking of eyes, I loved this that Liev said about Elijah in a Q & A:

Q. Elijah Wood is so dewy that I like him best when he's playing elves or a bad guy. But you used him so well. I loved the way those thick glasses he wears turn his starry blue eyes into a running joke.

A. Oh good - those glasses were my idea. Elijah looks like a fawn, and you want to pick him up and hold him and make sure that he's O.K.. And I wanted some of that......

The entire article is good.  You can read it here.

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/18/movies/18durb.html?adxnnl=1&adxnnlx=1127276066-yyU6oMBKv3TfA5/NPhm0YA
« Last Edit: September 21, 2005, 12:18:54 am by Yeux de bleu » Report to moderator   Logged

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Re:For latest role, the eyes did it
« Reply #8 on: September 21, 2005, 08:17:53 am »

Thank you for posting that Yeux de Blue. Nice article. I like that part too what Liev said about Elijah.
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Re:For latest role, the eyes did it
« Reply #9 on: September 21, 2005, 02:05:44 pm »


Quote from: Yeux de bleu on September 21, 2005, 12:04:19 am   


Quote from: Carina on September 20, 2005, 07:26:06 am   

There's just one thing I'm wondering; what does the word turkey mean in the following context?: "and he's demonstrated a Teflon-like ability to survive expensive turkeys"

A "turkey" is American slang for something that's a dud, unsuccessful, not good.  And nothing sticks to a pan that is Teflon coated.  So what is means is that he has a great ability to survive movies that were expensive to make, but didn't do well in theatrical release.

Thank you very much for your brilliant explanation Yeux!
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Re:For latest role, the eyes did it
« Reply #10 on: September 21, 2005, 03:00:06 pm »

Expensive turkeys... huh. I can see why he loves CoF so much; it's a hilarious movie. Cool insights in this one, thanks for posting it, Carina!

And it seems that he's making a habit of not reading the books. Although I can see why in this case, since the film and book are so different.
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Re:For latest role, the eyes did it
« Reply #11 on: September 22, 2005, 01:31:41 pm »

First, thanks a lot for posting this interview... I´ve found it so interesting and somehow a bit hilarious...

"A contagious passion for his profession that he couldn't stifle if he wanted to."

It happens the same to me with my profession ( I am an Obstetrician) so it is great to see we have this in common!!
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Caz
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Re:For latest role, the eyes did it
« Reply #12 on: September 22, 2005, 08:45:29 pm »

You're welcome Seven and Enara.

I have to be honest, at first it irked me a little bit that he didn't read either LOTR or EII but the explanation he gave certainly makes sense but I do also believe he is probably just that tiny little bit lazy when it comes to books.

In my case it's "a contagious obsession for his profession and himself that I couldn't stifle if I wanted to."
« Last Edit: September 22, 2005, 08:47:01 pm by Carina » Report to moderator   Logged
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Re:For latest role, the eyes did it
« Reply #13 on: September 22, 2005, 09:06:48 pm »

loved all that!
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Re:For latest role, the eyes did it
« Reply #14 on: September 23, 2005, 02:47:25 pm »


Quote from: Carina on September 22, 2005, 08:45:29 pm   


In my case it's "a contagious obsession for his profession and himself that I couldn't stifle if I wanted to."


You have just killed me... this is the best I have read in a long time!!!
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