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December 2003/January 2004 issue of Premiere Magazine

When Wood excuses himself from the table, Monaghan cocks his head and seizes the moment. "All right. While's Elijah's away..." he says, looking over his shoulder as Elijah disappears. "He cried a lot," Astin confides, speaking of Wood's experience sepnding 15 months shoot the Lord of the Rings trilogy in New Zealand. "He was always crying," Astin continues as Boyd shakes his head, looking grim, "We were always consoling him." "He missed his mom, he missed LA," agress Monaghan, "He had a blanket that he forgot. Astin adds, "He would say 'I don't think I can make it, you know, I...'" "'...need you guys, I need you,'" Monaghan completes the sentence with a frown. "Nobody understands me,'" Astin continues, "Sad, really. Pitiful."

Frodo Baggins, the ring-bearer, is the go-to hobbit when Gnadalf realizes the evil power of Sauron may only be defeated by the resilience of goodness, rather than brute force. But as Frodo nears Mordor, the power of the ring increasingly weighs upon him."I think the hardest thing for Elijah to do was to dramatize Frodo's internal psychological battle as the ring is taking effece," Astin says, "It's a huge thing for an actor to say, 'Okay it's month nine and I've had a nice weekend and now I have to exist in this emotional place of total spiritual, emotional, and psychological suffering at the snap of a finger.'"

Wood agrees. "Frodo's journey up Mount Doom in Return of the King, and what it does to him... - it's literally where he's at his end," he says. "It's a fuckin trippy thing to watch yourself so deteriorated and so completely different from who you are."

Indeed, despitebeing the most prominent name and the stensible lead in an ensemble cast, Wood was never a whiner or a prima donna, and he never gave less than 100%, according to his fellow hobbits. "Elijah is really optimistic about everything," Billy Boyd says, "And he's pretty much up for anything." Jackson could rely on Wood's can-do spirit throughout the production: Wood was fearless, whether it was revealing unguarded emotions for dramatic scenes or abusing his body during stunts. His lack of inhibition even extends to our dinner table conversation, where he suddenly exclaims, with a laugh, "I was known around Wellington for my large testicle. That's actually quite a story." He then tells about having suspected for years that something was a bit...unbalanced, which led to fears of sterility and heaps of self-denial, until, finally, he has his testicles check in New Zealand. Turns out, he's fine (no need to go into clinical explanations here). When Monaghan and Astin express reservations about Wood's candor, he says: "I don't give a shit. I had to go through that because I was so embarassed about it. Now it's funny. It's comedy." Above ego and self-interest, Wood loves good material - whether it's music (like Radiohead or the Yeah Yeah Yeahs; it's a passion he shares with Monaghan), films, or storytelling - an unusal attribute in a celebrity. "He is the famous one in the group," Boyd says, "so he's the one that people come over to and ask for autographs. And I think Elijah's a great role model for that. Seeing how he deals with it - he's always very noble."

Although The Lord of the Rings has launched Wood into a whole new level of fame, he says the more significant result has been the formation of a new network of friends (which, in addition to the hobbits, includes Mortensen, Bloom, and several of the crew). "'Lijah's always been kind of seperate from the Hollywood set," Monaghan says, "I think now that I live here and Billy's been coming over, he's probably been goingout more in LA than he ever used to. Because he's got a few people that he's rollin' with."

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