Last week I got to sit down with Elijah Wood to chat about his new movie, Happy Feet Two. It so happened that the first question asked at the round table lead nicely into The Hobbit so this interview starts with a lot of Hobbit information on filming and what we can expect but mainly what Elijah felt when he returned to the set. He was such a nice bloke and I could have spoken with him for hours. I wanted to get more information from him about his memories from Back to the Future Part II but that will have to wait for another day!
Elijah plays Mumbles in Happy Feet Two which hits UK cinemas this Friday, 2nd December. If you missed the interview with Robin Williams, you can catch up here. Tomorrow we’ll have an interview with Director George Miller so keep your eyes peeled for that.
HeyUGuys: Should you be in New Zealand at the moment?
Elijah Wood: I’ve just gotten back and I’m all finished. I was there for about a month throughout October.
How was it to be back?
Amazing, a mix of emotions I think. It was slightly surreal and felt oddly normal. I played the character for so long and I was in the costume, in Bag-end and a lot of the same crew were there from Rings so it was as if no time had past and suddenly we were doing another scene. It was great, felt like a family reunion, like stepping back in time.
When you wrapped on The Lord of the Rings, did you ever think you’d be going back?
At that time, if you;d have asked me if there would be a Hobbit film, I would have said no. Peter (Jackson) was pretty adamant about not doing it. There was always talk that someone else would do it but since Frodo isn’t in The Hobbit, i never thought I would play Frodo again.
If you were filming for a month, is it quite a big part?
It’s a flash-forward and there’s actually not a lot. It’s relatively small but it’s a nice piece and works really beautifully with what they’re doing. It’s going to be really cool I think.
What’s changed since you left?
Well, there are thirteen dwarves! Imagine that, thirteen principal actors, it’s insane – all with prosthetics and it’s incredible. In some ways, the scale feels larger surprisingly even though technically the scale of Lord of the Ring is more massive in terms of the storytelling. There’s more technology, it’s being shot in 3D, more people on the set and it feels as though the ‘machine’ is bigger. But, at the heart of it all, there is that same New Zealand ingenuity, that same vibe on set, Peter’s super relaxed, it’s still really fun – it’s great. It’s a mixture of old family and new family.
Was it strange for you going back to what was your set and now you’re a guest on it?
It was funny but it was cool. I was just excited to meet everybody, to meet Martin Freeman who’s playing Bilbo. And then also to catch up with McKellen and Andy Serkis who’s also directing second unit. It was fun to meet everybody and for me, what was fun was getting the chance to meet everybody and ask them a million questions asking them “how it’s been”, “how was the rehearsal period” and knowing what their experience must be like, it was fun for me to get a sense of what their perspective was on it.
Bringing it back to Happy Feet, what do you think are the main messages from the movie?
I think there are some beautiful themes. The movie ends on this note of everyone has to work together in communities across communities to solve a massive problem. And the idea that Eric, like Mumble in the first one is also searching for identity and looking for something that defines him. I love the idea of a kid believing in something that’s impossible, believing that he can fly. And that tough decision that a parent has to deal with where they dont want to crush their child’s dreams but they still want them to believe that things are possible. And the notion that it’s our differences that make us unique.
Eric has a rather embarrassing moment in the movie – have you had any embarrassing moments that you want to share?
I, like Eric in the movie, have weed on myself actually! Twice in my life. I was five years old at a family gathering at a holiday party and I was too embarrassed to ask to use the loo so I peed myself! And then again in first grade, I was again afraid to ask and by the time I did ask, I stood up and peed in class! And was wearing overalls!
Robin (Williams) mentioned in his interview the image of the polar bear clinging to the small bit of ice, are you pessimistic about the future?
I think that people are inherently good and will want to change the future for the better. In terms of the environment, I’m not a scientist so my knowledge is limited. I think the planet is going to change and we’re going to have to adapt. I feel that there is an awareness now that is at its peak. People are more aware of what part they have to play in it than ever before and that’s great. Everything else is out of our control.
But you’ve been to the future in Back to the Future 2 playing Wild Gunman so you can tell us what happens?…..
I have, that’s true! And weren’t they playing Jaws 32?!
Jaws 19, man, that was fun!
Do you have a favourite film from when you were younger?
As a film, I love Avalon. That’s one of my favourites. And I think Barry Levinson is an amazing filmmaker and it’s one of my favourite movies of his. It’s a beautiful movie.
Do you remember filming it?
Yeah, I do. I have vivid memories. In fact, to take it back to Happy Feet, I met Robin Williams on the set of Avalon. I was eight years old and Robin had worked with Barry on Good Morning Vietnam and he came to visit the set in Baltimore and it was really dark outside and I couldn’t see. There was this man standing there and he introduced himself to me and said ‘Hi, I’m Robin and this is my daughter Zelda’ and he had baby Zelda in his arms. Insane! And I was shaking his hand and in mid-shake I realised who he was and I said ‘Robin….. WILLIAMS! and he said ‘Ahh, light goes on!’ and it freaks me out. He was one of the first celebrities that I met. I reminded him of it the other day!