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Elijah Wood: ICON
by, Raffaele Panizza - Panorama (ICON)|
Wooden headphones, 45 rpm, bicycles, ties, button-down shirts. Wooden Wisdom, that's the name he goes by, surrounds himself with timeless things. At the moment he’s got no license for his motorcycle but he wears a ring, with a writing carved on it. Not that ring, and not that writing: Frodo is somewhere else, now.
Elijah Wood is a transistor radio broadcasting vintage music in a carefully moderate volume. An antenna picking up little known frequencies, foxtrot echoes, English electronic from the Eighties, ancient world, ancient values, classic nature. No interferences. No flaws.
To say he’s a bit retro and floating in some kind of Middle-earth would be too easy of a joke, talking about him who entered the legend lending his face to Frodo Baggins from the Lord of the Rings. Let’s say he lives happily in the middle of the Earth, then, firmly planted in this world and carefully absorbing its salts, with extended branches and long roots. It does not look like a coincidence that the pseudonym he chose for himself to use on the more and more frequent occasions during which he casts his actor clothes off to wear the deejay ones sounds so solid and evocative: Wooden Wisdom. A choice telling much about the material his structure is made of: at the age of 32, and after more than twenty years of career (he’s on the boards since when he was 8, at the age of 11 he was with Mel Gibson in Forever Young), Elijah is a young man, interesting in a sober and neat way, who chooses and uses words following a principle of concision, easily smiling but seldom indulging a sneer. If he holds a cigarette between his fingers, then he likes to gesture, using his hand like a propeller for his thought, and doing so he shows the solid ring he wears on his right annular, carved with a writing which (could it be suggestion?) looks like traced in magical, mysterious and ancient signs. “Oh my, I know what you’re going to ask me, and the answer is no”, he says, this time laughing heartily, demolishing any fantasy. “I really should be institutionalized if I went around wearing Frodo’s ring, shouldn’t I?”. The Jewish characters hide a terse sentence, that seems an invitation to live an accelerated existence, but in them Wood, more profoundly, finds instead a spur “to meditate. To find the right moment to do anything”. It’s a maxim from rabbi Hillel, who lived in Babylon in King Herod’s day. It goes: “if not now, when?"
Is this your “precious?"
“No. My precious is my family. My friends. My pictures. And above all, music."
Can you enjoy life as you wish, or have you become too famous to do it?
“Are you serious? I can do whatever I wish, and go anywhere.”
What are the occasions you choose to enter the fray of the world?
“Mostly travels and music festivals. I’ve just been to Coachella, three days of music in the desert, right outside Los Angeles. Then I toured England and Northern Ireland, where I had the pleasure of deejaying twice in a bar in Belfast.”
Doesn’t being a star take spontaneity away from any human relationship?
“I don’t know, I never really think about it. I’m not one to give worries such as “oh my, they’re going to recognize me now, and when that happens the party will be over” too much thought. I want to risk. To be alive among the living."
When did you start deejaying?
“Eleven years ago, in Wellington, while shooting the first Lord of the Rings movie. Since I was aware I was going to spend sixteen months far from home, I had taken with me no less than two chests filled with discs. One evening, at the usual bar, in front of Cate Blanchett and Viggo Mortensen, I started putting the music on."
Is this just a hobby for you?
“It was. But now it’s becoming something serious."
What’s the kind of headphones you use?
“The Grado, made of wood and aluminum by a family from Brooklyn following the same process of sixty years ago."
What’s the taste of your music selection?
“Above all, there’s old soul and much funk. Then, French music from the Sixties, Brazilian and African world music, and much Turkish psychedelia."
There are people dancing to Turkish psychedelic music in Belfast?
“Sure. You’d be surprised to see the audience’s reaction. To see the floor crowded is very gratifying. I really love to generate energy."
Do you mix CDs or do you use an iPod?
“Only vinyls. Preferably 45 rpm."
How do you dress up when you go on a dj set?
“A shirt, tight jeans, a tie. As usual."
Online you’ve been name-called “The Lord of the Ties”, did you know?
“No. But it does not bother me. I’ve been wearing them every day for long: tight, with a small knot, obliquely or horizontally striped. And even when I’m not wearing any, I remain fully convinced that the shirt must be buttoned up to the last button, no exceptions."
An inspiration more British that Californian.
“That’s my ideal. The elegance of Joy Division, New Order, The Who. I like short sleeved shirts, turned-up jeans, full brogue shoes. I’d say “casual business." And why not, even a bit 'clerk'."
You’re not one who wears designer clothes, then.
“Not necessarily. But there are brands I wear often and that really mirror my way of being: for instance, regarding clothing, Band of Outsiders. Or Rag & Bone, for all basic. Or A.P.C. jeans. I also buy a lot of vintage. In general, I can say I’m not the kind of person who wakes up in the morning and wears the first thing laying on the chair. I care about it. I like the classic man style, with no frills, almost austere."
Does fashion look frivolous to you?
“Only when it sets an expiry date all by itself. I want to surround myself with things as much timeless as possible, things that can’t be framed in fleeting moments and aesthetics."
What do you try to communicate through what you wear?
“Nothing on purpose. But if I look at myself in the mirror I see in my choices a reflection of my nature. I’m like this: straight, linear, like a book, crystal clear."
Very far from the quite sated and superficial “Hollywood guy” stereotype. Where did you choose to live?
“I’ve lived in a house in Santa Monica for years, but then I sold it. Now I live in Venice Beach."
Where all are mad for Linus bicycles, it seems. Do you own one?
“Of course. I get around almost only riding it. Mine is inspired by French racing bicycles of the Fifties. Its name is Gaston."
Have you got a motorcycle?
“A Triumph from ’68 a friend gave me as a present. But I can’t ride it. My permit has expired."
Who did you get the model for such a personal man style from?
“I learned everything from women, though it may sound like a paradox. In particular from my mother. She’s the one who taught me to always be deeply connected with my emotions."
Even at the risk of not appearing strong, reassuring, protective at all cost?
“Sure. A man hiding his vulnerable side is an insecure man."
Was it hard to safeguard your balance, since you were already famous at the age of 11?
“No. The difference between what was happening home and what on set has always been very clear in my mind. The secret was to prevent fame from defining my identity."
Did the strongly catholic orientation of your education help you with a positive influence?
“In retrospect, I can say so. Humility has been instilled in my head from the very beginning. And even now, though theoretically I could afford it, I just can’t go along with privileges or special treatments. I’ve always had other priorities in life."
“No. Self-preservation. And if today I’m on the right path, I owe it entirely to the solidity of my basis."
Does the word “revolt” carry any meaning to you?
“Rebels must break the bars of a cage. I’ve never had one."
But you must have done something stupid when you were a teenager. Say, go to Spring Break and get drunk enough to pass out?
“Let me be clear: I like to drink, I love having fun. But I’ve always smelled death in that stuff, and it never interested me. When I was a teenager, I got bored by the mere prospect."
Do you ever dream of running away?
“I’d like to tour the United States on my own, by car. First driving East, from Los Angeles to Miami. Then up to Denver to reach Portland, to get back home along the Pacific Highway. But it wouldn’t be a real getaway. I can picture a trip lasting for no more than two months."
What forces you to come back?
“Nothing. I want to. Real life, for me, has always been more interesting than fantasy."
**Translation courtesy of: Serena Thank you!