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A Word With Mr. Wood
by, Roland Hulme - Jacques Magazine|
We're not going to lie: The whole Jacques team kind of digs on Elijah Wood. A Jacques subscriber from Issue #1, Elijah's been a long-time supporter of our magazine - and we've always been fans of his work.
Born in Iowa, but raised in the bright lights of L.A., Elijah rocked our socks in iconic Hollywood blockbusters like "The Faculty" and "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy, but also made us feel like one of the cool kids after spotting him in blink-and-you'll-miss-em cameos in shows like Nick Jr.'s "Yo Gabba Gabba" and the Beastie Boy's video "Make Some Noise."
And even better, it seems like the attraction is mutual - so much so that when Editor-in-Chief Danielle sent Elijah a Twitter invite to come hang out in Williamsburg's trendy Hotel Delmano, he accepted (and she didn't even need to Tweet him a photo of her tits first).
Over cocktails, Danielle and Jacques contributors Brian and Kristopher conducted what must be one of the most laid back interviews ever. It wasn't until months later that Jacques' team of forensic scientists were able to listen to a recording of this epic, four-hour drinking session and piece together the following highlights:
Elijah Wood on: photography
"I love photography," says Elijah. "It's never something I'�ve taken seriously enough, but it's something I've done as a hobby for years. It's something I've always wished I could spend more time with, because it's something I love doing."
"Digital or film?" Danielle demands, somewhat aggressively.
"Cool," nods Danielle. "I can give you some lessons."
Moments later, he confesses: "I mean, I have a digital camera too, but I prefer film." And quick as a flash, Danielle slyly purrs: "But, of course, you have to say that."
"But it's true!" Elijah explains: "There's nothing like the feeling of shooting and then not knowing exactly what the results are going to be until you get them back."
Danielle: "That's the worst feeling!"
Elijah laughs. "That's the best feeling!"
"Well, if you're trying to have only one session with somebody, and everything's riding on that, then I guess it�s the worst feeling. But if you're just shooting for yourself, then the results are fun and surprising whatever the end ends up being."
"Okay," Danielle looks skeptical. "So, if you were going to take a photograph what would your subject be? Landscape? Girls? Friends? Parties? What? Are you a concept photographer?" She leans forward, flashing her white teeth: "Go nuts."
"I don't know," Elijah shrugs. "I tend to just try and capture the world around me - and that can be anything. From landscapes to cityscapes to, you know, bits of architecture or people. But I don't like posed photography, so I don't, like, gather people together."
Elijah Wood on: making horror movies
"I just started a production company," Elijah tells us. "With a couple of friends of mine about a year ago. We produce horror films."
"I'd love you to talk more about The Woodshed, because I'�m really into horror movies."
"Yeah, so am I," Elijah's equally enthusiastic. "That was the whole idea. The company that produced it is actually called SpectreVision now. "Spectre" like a spirit."
He leans back in his seat.
"So basically, I met my producing partners, Daniel and Josh, a writer and director respectively, on another project we were going to develop together and we became really good friends. In the process of becoming really good friends, we discovered that we had a shared love of horror films."
"And I'd been wanting to get into film production - to develop things from their inception to their completion - and I thought: 'Hey, why not start my own company to make the kind of horror films I want to see?'"
Elijah continues: "I think it's a genre that's, you know, riddled with shit - but as a fan you'd kind of subject yourself to anything because you love the genre so much. But it's changing. I think some of the best movies are coming out of Europe right now, and Asia."
Brian nods: "Yeah, there are a lot of foreign horror movies right now."
"It's incredible," Elijah says. "Especially over the last ten years, with things like Let The Right One In, and there are some amazing films from Spain like Kidnapped."
"Yeah!, "Brian whistles. "Kidnapped was terrifying."
"It was fucking phenomenal," Elijah emphasizes. "There's also a movie you might have already seen called REC. And France had a really great run with films like Martyrs."
Oh, yeah, "Brian and Elijah are clearly on a roll. "Martyrs is another great one."
"It was fantastic. And Inside? Did you see Inside?"
"So, we were really inspired by those movies," Elijah continues. "And those movies from the seventies like Don't Look Now or The Wicker Man " although that's late sixties. And then there"s John Carpenter's version of The Thing, and The Shining, The Omen and The Exorcist. You know, that was a really amazing time because people were taking those stories seriously."
Danielle interjects: "So, what's the last great horror movie you ever think got made?"
"Oooh," Elijah clearly sees this as a challenge. "The last great horror movie ever made?"
"I'm serious." Danielle has her don't-fuck-with-me face on. "What year?"
"Great is a very" - Elijah stares cool, despite Danielle's intense stare. "It's subjective."
"Okay, so what's your all-time favorite? So you're being subjective?"
"The last great horror movie? That's really hard. I mean, I think The Exorcist will always be a classic. But you know what? I always say my favorite is Halloween. I always go back to that film."
"Really?" Danielle looked like she's about to fall off her chair, and not because of the cocktails.
"Totally," Elijah is emphatic. "It's kind of a masterwork."
Danielle performs her version of the McKayla Maroney "not impressed" sneer: "I expected better from you!"
Elijah leans closer. "It's actually quietly brilliant."
The sneer softens. "Why so?"
"Because!" and then seeing that Danielle demands more, he explains: "Because I watched it again recently, and while it has an immense amount of sentimental value, there's also just brilliance in that film."
He continues: "For instance, when the girls drive up to the store and the police father's out there talking to the girls and you just see the station wagon drive by in the background. There are a lot of subtle things that are done in that movie that I think are brilliant. Oh, and the opening sequence alone with the reveal again that it's the child who committed the murder?" Elijah smiles. "It's just fucking brilliant."
"I think John Carpenter and that whole era of John Carpenter are just amazing," Brian adds, "but unfortunately I don't think he's done anything great lately."
"I think that Carpenter doesn't care anymore," Elijah explains. "And as an artist, I think if you cease to care and you cease to have a fire for creation, then you're not going to do anything worth anything."
Elijah Wood on: starring in horror movies
"What about Maniac?" Brian asks. "I feel you're probably best known for being Frodo, so how do you think your fans will react to you being a psycho killer? I mean, you have in the past like in Sin City, but it was brief." "Yeah," Elijah nods. "and it's far more brutal as well in Maniac. I love the original," Elijah agrees, "But this is very different. Primarily because it's shot from the POV of the character for the most part. And that's kind of what interested me more than anything, because I don't normally like horror film remakes. There are exceptions, but we're on this huge kick at the moment with remakes in general and I just feel like it"s kind of lazy. I think what separates a good remake from a bad one is a desire, a passion, to do something different. And Alex Aja, who did Haute Tension " you ever see High Tension? " The French film?"
Brian wears his are-you-fucking-kidding-face. "Of course. He did The Hills Have Eyes and Piranha 3D, too."
"Yeah, exactly," Elijah"s impressed. "He wrote the story for Maniac, and I was a fan of his and I really wanted to work with him and I was just really intrigued by the notion of playing a character that in 80% to 90% of the movie you don't see him - and I just found that kind of fascinating as an actor." "So it's cool," Elijah continues. "And in terms of whether it'll disturb people or my fans - I don"t really know - I don't know if I was thinking of that when I was doing it. How people would respond." He rubs the tufts on his chin. "Maybe I took a slight amount of glee at the idea that it might disturb people and take people off guard."
Elijah Wood on: directing
"Do you ever see yourself getting into directing?" Danielle asks.
"I would love to, yeah. Eventually."
"Why eventually?" Danielle demands. "Why not now?"
"That's a good question! Maybe fear? You know? Self-doubt?" Elijah leans back in his seat. "Look, in a lot of ways I feel like I've been going to film school for 22 years. I've been so fortunate to work with so many incredible directors and so many varying styles. I feel like I have a lot of knowledge about how one could direct a film. I've just never done it."
"Can you get bossy?" Danielle demands " bossily.
"That's really all it is."
"No, I can't." Elijah repeats. "But I think a bigger part of directing is delegating and problem solving and it's not. I don't believe it's so much that you need to be bossy. But I think you need to have a clear vision. You have to be a good leader, that's for sure. Same as running a magazine."
"Yes, Danielle smiles that beautiful smile of hers " and then ruins the moment by admitting: "Although people think I'm just bossy."
Elijah continues. "Sometimes I just love being part of a collective creative force, not directing it. Sometimes it's specific to a script and a role, and I"d say good writing has a lot to do with it. For instance, with a movie like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, that to me" I could have done anything on that movie. I just wanted to be a part of what Charlie Kaufman and Michel Gondry were doing because it was so unique."
"A challenge for me, as an actor, is always important and something to look for. But I think that a lot of my favorite experiences tend to be the smaller experiences, you know? When there's less money involved there tends to be - I don"t know - the people are there more because they love the films, so it's a great equalizer. There's this kind of collective 'everybody's working together' towards a goal feeling, and those are my favorite kind of creative experiences to work in."
Elijah Wood on: growing up in the movies
"How old were you when you started acting?" Danielle demands.
"I was eight when I started."
"Back to the Future Part II if I recall correctly," says Brian, who knows his shit.
Elijah is clearly impressed: "Yeah, that was the first thing I ever did."
"I did a bit of Googling."
Danielle asks: "You wanted to do it, or did your parents get you into it?"
"I wanted to," Elijah explains. "I mean, it wasn't like I was a five-year-old who was obsessed with movies and wanted to be an actor, but I grew up in Iowa before I moved to L.A. and my brother, whose seven years older than me, was already doing drama and musicals and stuff in school. My mum thought it would be fun to do commercials as an outlet for my energy." He grins. "I have a lot of energy."
"So we ended up going to California to sort of see what that's all about, basically, and I kind of just loved it right away. The interest was only to do commercials initially, and then doing films became a reality - and that's what it became, a reality."
"I was sort of in love with it immediately. And I think, you know, the older I got the more sophisticated my understanding of it all became and the more actively my passion developed for it."
Elijah Wood on: digital effects
"So, you're doing horror movies," Danielle asks. "How do you feel about, like, digital blood and effects like that?"
Elijah wrinkles his nose. "I don't like digital blood."
"Okay," Danielle muses. "Cool."
"Have you seen The Evil Dead?" Elijah demands. "The remake? It actually is great. It takes us back to a time when there wasn't actually digital blood."
Danielle leans forward: "Really?"
"Really," Elijah nods. "It's gory as fuck."
Danielle eyes widen. "Really?"
"It literally rains blood at the end of the movie," Elijah nods. "And it's fantastic. I don"t know - it's just a real throwback to a different era. It feels like an early eighties horror film. But authentically. They've updated the story in an interesting way so it's not just kids going to the cabin to have fun. They're trying to get their friend off of drugs, that's why they"re out there. There's this underlying new reason that feels kind of - Real. Plausible."
"So how to do you feel about special effects?" Danielle asks. "I mean, have you worked on both ends? When did they introduce special effects?"
"Are you talking about digital effects?"
"Yeah," Danielle nods."
"If you're talking about CG," Elijah explains, "that's been going since the early to mid-nineties. Jurassic Park was a huge start in that."
"My feelings are that these days, more often than not, they tend to be overused," Elijah continues. "My favorite use of that kind of effect is when you're not aware of it. Like have you ever seen Game of Thrones?"
"No," is Danielle's unsurprising answer.
"Okay. Well, a lot of the effects they use in that show are just set extensions, so you're not even aware that they're effects. Or have you seen Zodiac? You know, the David Fincher movie?"
Danielle's eyes light up. "Yes!"
"Okay," Elijah"s found common ground. "There"s loads of CG in that film."
"Yeah, but you wouldn't know it because it's all just street extensions to make it look like 1970s San Francisco. So that's some of my favorite use of it." Elijah leans forward. "I just feel we've got so far away from building sets and matte paintings. Those things are gone because I think there's a belief that it's easier and better to recreate those things in a computer. These are things we used to build, but there's, like, this collective feeling that these things don't look as real, or that you can do so much more with CG."
"It's more tangible," Kristopher suggests.
"Tangible, right. I mean, I think that it's a great tool to use in accordance with other elements. I think that those three Star Wars movies - the prequels - they had barely any sets and it was just green screen and you can feel it. It looks like a cartoon. Whereas I think if you combine all of these elements together you can actually create something that feels a hell of a lot more real."
"I don't know," Danielle announces. "I say we get rid of all of it."
"Well," Elijah laughs. "It's not going to go anywhere, but I think there"s a good way to utilize it so it doesn't feel as fake. You know?"
"I'm all for building sets," Elijah continues.
"Like in movies like The Artist," Kristopher nods. "There is something about it - Like, people are moving forward by going back.."
Danielle embraces that idea. "That's the one thing I've struggled with with the magazine. Because everybody says it has this vintage aesthetic and I'm like: "I don"t want it to be seen as vintage any more. I want it to be the social norm." You know what I mean? So how do I make that stand? To say: "You are all in the wrong, and I"m the only one doing this right.""
"Well, you do that by just being pure to what you do," Elijah suggests. "I mean, it will only ever continue to be seen as something vintage as long as that isn't the norm. But if more and more people are pushing that idea forward then it won't be seen as something, like, antiquated and from the past any more."
Elijah Wood on: sex scenes
"Have you ever done a sex scene?" Danielle asks " and, to her credit, it took her at least twenty minutes to start talking about sex.
" I have, yeah," Elijah admits.
"What did you do?"
"It was in a movie that no one saw that came out in New York called The Oxford Murders."
"We're so gonna have to watch this," Danielle grins. "What"s that like? I've always wondered."
"Awkward," Elijah replies, awkwardly.
"Are you, like, wearing a man thong? What goes on in the back?"
"You know, man," Elijah recalls, "I actually had to do another one" It was sort of a sex scene as well - it was actually the most intense thing I've ever done. It was for a movie called Pawn Shop Chronicles. I did this over the summer. It was intense, man. Because we didn't have a lot of time."
"Okay." Danielle responds, curiously.
"The scene was" Well, the idea was that I was filming myself and three other girls on this bed."
"Okay." Her eyes widen. So does her grin.
"and we had to film it that night prior to another scene we were meant to be doing, because my character is meant to be watching that footage - and because they wanted it to be practical and not a green screen thing that they put in later, we only had, like -" He pauses, and then remembers, "It was the end of their day of shooting. I flew in, and we had, like, twenty minutes to shoot it to have the kind of turnaround for me to get to work the next day."
"So the cool thing of, like, talking about it and figuring out how we were going to do it went out the window, and it was pretty much like: "Okay girls, get naked."
"And I had, like, what they kindly refer to as a "cock sock" that has barely any fabric over what it covers. And there was something kind of invigorating about not having the time because - In my head, I thought we'd get there and I'd figure it out, but that's all just stalling leading up to whatever it's going to be - and kind of not having any of that, it was kind of like jumping off the precipice. Just having to do it ended up being kind of fun. It was ridiculous."
"Plus," Danielle leers, "three girls in a bed!"
"Right, exactly. And it's weird, too, because my character's really strange and they're all dirty because he keeps them in cages."
Brian spits his drink out: "You what?"
"And there you go," Kristopher grins.
"Yeah, Elijah nods. "and there you go."
"Interesting!" Danielle is clearly interested at this point.
"So, yeah," Elijah continues, "sex scenes are, you know, something you wish was sexier than it actually is. Because inevitably there are a group of people standing there and you realize that you're being watched as you're doing this thing. And if you're a sensitive person you're thinking about the other people and whether or not they're okay."
"So did you guys have, like, a safe word?" Danielle asks. "Like banana?" (Which may or may not be Danielle's own safe word.)
"We didn't have enough time to work it out with these girls!" Elijah says.
"But when we did The Oxford Murders the actress, Leonor Watling - I was just so concerned because I didn't want to look at her like a sex object and I felt bad. And, of course, I wanted to look at her - But - It was this weird feeling of wanting to be really respectful and yet really wanting to see her naked and not knowing how to reconcile that. The respect for her won out, eventually."
Elijah Wood on: actors
"Do you have any favorite actors or actresses?" Brian asks. "Anyone in particular that you really admire or like working with?"
"I was just talking with a friend about Gary Oldman and how incredible I think he is," Elijah fires back. "His is a career, I think, that I really admire. There's something about him. He possesses an immense amount of versatility. He can do and be anything, and has done so many different kinds of roles. He"s not exactly an easy person to peg as an actor. But he's always extraordinary."
"So do you guys hang out in cliques?" Danielle asks.
"Who? Actors?" Elijah asks.
"Are there, like, gangs?" Danielle asks.
"I'm sure there are." Elijah laughs. "I don't have a lot of actor friends, but I'm sure there are."
Elijah Wood on: fans
Brian asks: "What is the craziest fan encounter you've ever had?"
"The first thing that comes to mind? I was at a convention and a girl comes over and hands me this deed to a house that she had discovered from the mid to late 1800s," Elijah explains. "Signed by an Elijah Wood."
"That's pretty cool," Kristopher nods.
"It's pretty fucking amazing," Elijah corrects him. "It sort of blew my mind."
"Cool," Danielle nods.
"And the signature?" Elijah widens his eyes. "Well it's not my signature, but because it's my name it kind of vaguely looks like my signature. It's crazy."
"What was her purpose in doing that?" Danielle asks.
"It was something she'd just found and thought it was a kind of extraordinary thing. It's pretty fucking cool actually."
"Do you still have that?"
"I do, yeah. You know, I figured it would be kind of cool to go to that piece of land and try and claim it."
Kristopher laughs: "Yeah, why not give it a shot. Say to the guy: Hey, I fucking signed this! Nearly two hundred years ago!"
Elijah Wood on: offering to pay for his own drinks
"Can I give you some cash for that?" Elijah asks, when the check comes.
"You don't have to," Kristopher scoops it up.
But before he goes, Brian spots an opportunity: "So what other magazines do you subscribe to?"
"I don't. " Elijah tells him.
"Just [cough, cough] another nudie magazine and Jacques."
"I don't believe that."
"It's true," Elijah promises. "I don"t have any other magazine subscriptions."
"Not even Men's Health?" Brian demands.
"Okay," Danielle demands. "We need a quote from you on that. Want to give us a quote?"
Elijah raises his eyebrows: "I think I just did."
Brian transcribes: "He only subscribes to two magazines, and Jacques is one of them."
"Oh yeah, that"s actually pretty good."