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Interview for "The Fellowship of the Ring"

by James Mottram, The Wall Street Journal, December 2001.



How much did you know about "The Lord of the Rings" before the film?

In my mother's generation - in the 60s and 70s - there was this huge boom in the book's popularity. Then it fizzled out. But suddenly children now are reading the books again. I think that's really wonderful, to reintroduce it to a new generation. I didn't know anything about it when I was a child. I'd heard boys talking about it, but it was more of a boy thing.

How did you find living away from home for 15 months?

When I first went down there [to New Zealand], I was living alone in this big house on this beautiful cliff by the sea. It's really windy in Wellington, all the time, and the houses aren't really made for it. They're little beach cottages. Everything shakes all the time. From getting really involved with the film, and reading the books, I started having nightmares. One night, I woke up and I was sick, and I had a fever. I heard tap, tap, tap on the bedroom door; it was actually the wind. Seeing things that were scary, that was hard for me.

When did you become aware of the massive expectations for the film?

When I got home from New Zealand, I remember going to check my email one day on a friend's computer. It was AOL, and when you went to put your screen name in, you could click on Elijah Wood's face. I suddenly thought, Wow, this is really big! I know that sounds really ignorant, but we were all out of the loop of the expectations while we were making it. We were completely immersed in what we were doing.

Have you seen the toy figures of your character yet?

I saw one. I was home, alone. I sat there and took it out of the box and put it on table, and I was really scared of it! To see this tiny version of me. It was just like a prototype, and the arm kept falling off, and I was trying to put my arm back on! In a silly kind of way, it's very exciting to be a doll! When I was a kid I used to buy Barbie dolls, and the first thing I did was to take all their clothes off, cut their hair, and change everything.