-- Interview with Elijah from Japan '04' --
A little tired. It's an exhausting process…
You got rid of the spiky hair that you had a few months ago when you were in New York...
Yeah, I had that for about 2 weeks that was about it.
Yeah, that was all it needed…
Captured forever on film…
What's the feeling…relief, or sadness, or a little bit of both, that this thing is all but done now?
I think, in concept, a bit of both. I think, at the moment, we're too in the midst of this particular part of the journey to feel sorrow yet. It doesn't feel over because we still have so much to go in terms of releasing the film and the promotion of it. In terms of relief, I think…next year, when we don't have another junket to do, and we won't have to plaster on the fake smile and plow through this again…(hearty laughter from all) but you know how it is. It is an exhausting process and I think the fact that we won't have to come back next year and…
Well, the shooting…love to keep doing that...
It's exhaustion that's the problem?
It's just exhausting, so I guess there's probably some relief associated with that, but it's been an amazing journey for us. It's four years of an incredibly brilliant life experience where we've made some of the best friends of our lives, and I don't think we're ready to let go of that. I think the real realization that it's over will come at the end, once the movie's finished and come out, and all of the press is finished. I think we'll then be left to reflect…I think it'll sort of really hit us then. You know, we had a kind of end already, in terms of leaving the film, when we finished the last of the pickups in June. That's when we really kind of emotionally ended our experience, and that was very difficult.
To follow up on that, when leaving New Zealand and sailing into the West, what was that like for you…leaving New Zealand and that whole bit?
It's bumming, because when we talk about the end, and the leaving process, and all that, there are kind of a lot of ends. This ended many, many times over the past four years. The one that is the sort of iconic end is when we actually left New Zealand after principal photography, which was three years ago, and that was a very difficult thing…a lot of mixed emotions because we were all…at that point, it had been sixteen months that we'd been working on all three movies. We'd been pushed to our limits, and we were completely exhausted, yet we had immersed ourselves in this world, in New Zealand, with this extended family of the crew and the cast. We weren't really ready to leave, so half of us were saying, "We need to get home so that we can finally just rest and know what real relaxation is," 'cause we hadn't known that for months and months. At the same time, we weren't really ready to leave New Zealand and say goodbye to everyone, so that kind of journey home was a very difficult one after the initial wrap, and more importantly, I think, and more interestingly, was what, consequently, we felt after we actually did get home. Once we were back in our normal life, because we were so used to life there, and on that film, and we were living on that schedule, within that world, in New Zealand with all these people, and suddenly our own life…we didn't know…I didn't know quite what my own life meant anymore. So it was really about trying to re-instate myself into reality and what that meant. I mean, it took me about five or six months to come out of hibernation, really, to come back to being whole and complete and back in the world again. I mean, it sounds kind of dramatic, but…
How many of the friendships that you made have actually lasted? Do you actually really keep in contact with the other hobbits?
Oh yeah…definitely. The hobbits, I think, are probably the strongest relationship that I have, primarily because we started the film together, working every day, so those relationships kind of endured throughout, and we're also the closest in age, so we relate to each other more than anyone else on the film, but we also kind of embody all the elements of the characters in life, so we've always been the closest, so certainly, those are the relationships that will remain the strongest, I think, over time. I'm still very close to Viggo, and some of the other actors who were certainly close with, I'm sure I will see in life and know in life for the rest of my life.
Well, especially since not all of you live in Los Angeles…
Exactly. There's always a function of that when you work on any movie, but I certainly have never felt so close to the people that I've worked with, and, at least knowing that I will see them again in life. There's always a thing that happens when you work on movies…it's a tight-knit atmosphere and you become very close to the people you work with over the period of, normally, three or four months. The movie ends, and you sort of lose touch, and I think that that'll be true of this, but I think that when we all do see each other again, or run into each other again, the bonds are much greater, and will endure the test of time.
There's a strange kind of creative dislocation that happens to you when you…as an actor, you did the whole movie and then you have to re-experience it every year, right, when you go on the junkets…what was that like?
Well, it wasn't as strange as it would seem, because every year we've gone back to New Zealand to do pickups, so, in actual fact, it hasn't really felt like we've stopped working on the movie. It was a funny thing, because we did have that wrap of principal photography, the emotional sort of separation anxiety of dealing with that and leaving that world and then suddenly realizing, "Wait a second, we're going back every single year, so the journey's never going to end and we're gonna keep working on these things for the rest of our lives…
You're going to go back to do the DVD, right?
We won't have to go back to New Zealand for it, we will do stuff on the DVD. There'll be commentary on the movies…
Do you look at the films and say, "Okay, I did this three weeks ago, I did this a year ago, I did that in 1999…can you see yourself where you've aged? I've talked to people when they've done re-shoots…you know, there's the famous one with Jennifer Grey, where she did that movie "The Wind" where she had a nose job in the middle of the shoot and she sits there "pre-nose job, nose job, pre-nose job…." you know what I'm getting at?
Oh yeah, totally…I don't watch it thinking about those things. I certainly could…I mean, I could sit down with the movie and go, "Okay, yep, that was a pickup…that was done roughly…there…" A lot of the stuff, though, kind of blends together. The stuff that was done in principal is sort of a blur in terms of the timeline in which it was done because we were constantly moving back and forth and shooting out of sequence. It's difficult to know or remember specifically when each thing was done. Certain scenes stand out more than others because of things that happened around those times, so I can be specific about certain scenes...but I tend to kind of just watch. With these movies, I just completely give over to the experience of watching. I find myself being just as much of a fan as anyone else, and there's a wonderful thing in these films, in the sense that we get to sort of…sit down and watch them and only one-third of it really is me, so everything else, I'm not really familiar with. I was so focused on my journey that I completely forgot about what the other characters were up to. They would mention sequences that they were shooting and I'd completely forgotten about what happened to certain characters and what goes on along the way in their parts of the story, so, in sitting down and watching these movies, it's almost like watching a movie I wasn't a part of. It's kind of nice to actually have a fresh take on the film instead of being so close to it that I can't be objective. There's a real giving over to the film experience, which is nice.
The scene where you're caught up in the spider web…did you ever just want to lose your mind? I mean, where you ever claustrophobic when you're sort of in that…
In that cocoon?
Cocoon, yeah...I mean…
Ahhh, no…that was cool. I kinda dug that. They wrapped me up with this web material that they'd made...it was kind of this sticky plastic that they'd created…it was really incredible. All of the major web pieces were made with it, and I thought it was a lot of fun for some reason...I don't know…I'm kind of crazy that way…
How much time did you spend in the cocoon?
Not very long…it would have been for periods of a half an hour to an hour or more, each time, and then they'd take me out, and re-wrap me…
Along those lines, were there any times where you sort of lost yourself in the character...where the emotions may have just taken over?
Kind of difficult to do in some of the settings, because sometimes we were onstage and there would be wind machines and…you always lose yourself in the character to a certain degree, within the scene..you kind of have to. This is kind of different from what you're saying, but there was one time when I was walking from a location on the set to where the base camp was, where our trailers were…it was quite a distance between the two areas, and between them was a field, and nothing…no kind of reference to the modern world whatsoever. I remember walking from the set to my trailer and, along that fifteen-minute walk, I looked down and saw my feet, and they were hobbit feet, and since I didn't have any reference around me of the modern world, or the film, or anything else, and it was just an incredibly amazing, beautiful location, I suddenly felt like I was an actual hobbit…"in the Shire" (spoken with Frodo's Shire accent)…that was a moment where things became very real.
This is certainly a film that calls for you to be so emotional for so much of the project. The whole second one you're completely getting darker and darker, and then the third one where it kind of climaxes…how did you get relief from that? I mean, was it just hanging out on the set with friends or did you just kind of stay in that place?
No, I definitely didn't stay in that place. There was always relief…we never took things too seriously, and there's always a sense of comedy on the set. Peter was always quite funny, and working with the other hobbits was always hilarious. Obviously, for a lot of the stuff in the third movie, I didn't have the other hobbits around, it was me and Sean, but we always managed to lighten the atmosphere and make it fun and have a good time, to take away from the sort of grim nature of some of the scenes. When the cameras stopped rolling, there'd be jokes and silliness and then the cameras roll, and, just, back to the… intensity of the ring and the destruction of the ring.
Take us through two versions of the destruction of the ring…which one did you prefer? You shot two versions of it, right?
(Surprised) Oh! Oh…I don't know…I mean, I could tell you, but the thing is, for people who haven't seen the ending of it…you guys have seen it…I don't know if I should say anything
Well, Jackson talked about it...and Andy talked about it…and he told me to put this question to you. The one he said to ask you was…were you trying to get the ring, or get it over the cliff? I said you would've just pushed him over the cliff if that was the case… There were two different versions…the first version that we shot, I think, was not ambiguous enough as to whether Frodo pushed Gollum off or it was an accident, and, I think, the first version that we shot, it may have happened too easily, like, Frodo…his finger's bitten off, he stands up, looks at Gollum, runs at him, and Gollum falls off, and we wanted there to be a bit more ambiguity within that particular moment, as to the actual motivation for Frodo running at Gollum, and also for it to seem somewhat accidental, and for there to be a bit of a struggle with the ring, and there to be something behind that as well. Okay, so your humble opinion…was he chasing the ring?
Frodo was absolutely after the ring.
Your not trying to save it anymore?
No, he's not trying to save it anymore…that was my feeling, especially when it comes down to the fact that he's already made the decision to own the ring…the ring is hated at this point, he's made his decision, he's done the term. Having it bitten off and taken away from him isn't going to change that, and I think it's going to make him even more incensed when he sees that the great rival…the other ringbearer…the one that he completely relates to has suddenly got it. I actually believe that Frodo may have intended to kill Gollum…the way that it plays out, it doesn't actually seem that way, and it may not actually be the case…but I wouldn't put it past that character in that particular situation.
You say you're a fan of the movies; you're a fan of the whole Tolkien thing. Have you been out to any of the Tolkien sites? What do you think of the feedback from the book purists on the things they've seen and what you've done as a cast and crew?
I love their thoughts on the films, even when it becomes critical…they're passionate about these books, and when they have thoughts on certain decisions that we've made that may be slightly different from the book, and they have discussions about these particular elements, I think it's great, and healthy, and interesting. It's a very difficult audience to please, because they've been reading these books since they were kids, some of them, and some of them, time and time again, so these characters are very close to them, and these stories are very close to them, and so, the fact that we've actually managed, in an overall sense, to please the fans, is kind of extraordinary, and a wonderful achievement. The fact that they have gripes here and there is completely reasonable and I totally understand.
Is there anything you're going to hold on to?
A good moment at the end of all things is actually the beginning of all things…the memory of all the arrivals…upon first coming to New Zealand…and the palpable sense of excitement in the air at the journey that we were about to have. I'd love to go back there and just see…to feel that again, knowing what I know now…it's pretty amazing.
Thanks Amy! :)