For more than two decades, the actor Elijah Wood has kept a pair of hairy hobbit legs in the same box they gave him.
This happened right after the main photo in Peter Jackson Trilogy “The Lord of the Rings”. wrapped in New Zealand, and can not remember if the legs are a fresh set or what he wore on screen as Fronto, the brave short hero entrusted with the destruction of a malicious gold band.
“I’m sure they will degrade over time, because I do not think latex lasts forever,” Wood said by telephone from Los Angeles. “But they were in good shape the last time I looked at them.”
The bizarre souvenir remains a tangible reminder of the unusual production in which the three fantasy epics, adapted from JRR Tolkien novels, were turned on their backs for 16 months, followed by three years of occasional filming and autumn tours.
A seemingly final result came only in 2004, when the third installment, “The Return of the King”, swept the Oscars, winning 11 trophies, including Best Picture.
It was not the first brush of the Oscar trilogy. The first chapter, “The Fellowship of the Ring,” recently added to the Library of Congress National Film Register, won four statuettes after its release on December 19, 2001. Twenty years later, Wood, now 40, recounted a monumental cinematic adventure. Following are edited excerpts from the conversation.
When you think of The Lord of the Rings movies and how they redefined your career, what are your fondest memories?
Often what I think is the intermediate moments, not just the incredible sets with hundreds of extras in orc costumes, which is definitely great, but the seemingly cosmic moments, like lifting our hobbit’s legs because he had to empty the set as it started to snow. We sit in the hotel over a washing machine and dryer, taking our feet off with a glass of whiskey. Or surfing the weekends with other hobbits and Orlando [Bloom, who played the elf Legolas] and the camaraderie and everyday life we had. We all left the variety of places we came from and made our living in New Zealand with each other. Twenty years later we are still connected in this way, even if we have not seen each other for a long time.
At what point did you feel that this episode in your life was over? How difficult was it to leave behind such a transformative feat?
The deepest moment when I felt like I was moving away from it and questioning what I was going to do next came after the main photo. That was when we were all exhausted. We had invested heavily in the world of filmmaking, and suddenly we were not, something that often happens when you make a film: you are in this microcosm and then you are squeezed into the other end. And then you return to your reality. This experience was greatly multiplied. My life experience was so determined by being in New Zealand with this group of people that the sudden shift of being home again made me feel very abrupt. I just wanted to keep working on things that were really small and very different from “The Lord of the Rings”. I felt very sad that I saw it all end, but also ready to continue my life and have new experiences.
Close brotherly relationships between men, like the one Frodo and Sam have in the trilogy, are now more common in the media. What was your opinion about this friendship between these two characters then?
My reading was just an incredible companion. While my Fronto character is considered this hero, there is even more true heroism in Sam [the hobbit played by Sean Astin] and the way he picks up the pieces from the points where Fronto can no longer go on. These two need each other, and Fronto definitely needs Sam. There was a true understanding of that. When I first met Sean, we were both scheduled to put on our wig at a hotel in Los Angeles, I immediately hugged him and said, “Hello!” because I knew who he was. We hugged each other because we knew we were going on this incredible journey together, both as actors and with other actors, but there was also this intuition: “You and I will make this journey together as well.” This was extremely true. Much of what we see in the film, both in our relationship and in others, reflects the reality of what we were experiencing. The power of narrative lies in our relationship to what is being expressed. I’ve heard a lot of different opinions about Sam and Fronto from the LGBTQ community, but also people who have struggled with addiction associating Gollum.
Fronto is a rather vulnerable creature with an inconceivable weight on his shoulders. What did you learn from embodying him for so long?
One of the great messages of the books, as far as Front and Hobbits are concerned, is the feeling that even the smallest person, not only in stature but in what he feels he is capable of doing, is capable of greatness. to influence real change, to have a real impact. What Fronto faced seemed insurmountable, and yet he was able to achieve it mainly because of kindness, goodness, purity of heart, and perhaps innocence. These are the things that hobbits incorporate, and inherently because they are able to withstand the corruption of the Ring for longer than humans. But what makes Frodo unique is a way of seeing the world without any cynicism. There is also courage, perhaps blind courage, not necessarily knowing what lies ahead and therefore not letting oneself fear. If I want to learn one thing from all this, it is that there is strength in his vision that makes everything possible.
Do you think that these films could be made today as they were then?
There was a great sense of lack of supervision. Peter and the larger team had the opportunity to make the films the way they wanted to make them without much outside perspective. This does not mean that the studio was not afraid or invested. They knew the danger of turning these films back on their backs. I do not know if he could do it the same way now. Look, the Internet is also different. There was less control over the movies. It was less known to them. We were able to make the films in a bubble. We had graphic problems, as if there were some photographers on a hill, but it was quite small. [Laughs.] I do not know if this would be possible now. Now the world is online and there is great access given to almost anyone for anything.
Has the ongoing relationship with the “Lord of the Rings” ever been overwhelming?
I have accepted for a long time that they will connect me forever with Frontos, so it does not bother me. Honestly, it would be such a sad burden if it happened. [Laughs.] I’m so used to people on the street calling me Fronto and not calling me by my first name. It is representative of one of the greatest experiences of my life, movies that I love and memories that I will love forever. At the end of my day, I’ll probably connect with it more than anything else. I can only equate it with similar scenarios as Mark Hamill or Harrison Ford. They are associated with their classic [“Star Wars”] characters more than others. Now that we are on the precipice of 20 years, something that is so difficult to understand, my concern is such gratitude and such love that I will never grieve to associate with these films or because they are the greatest in people’s memories of who I am. .
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