Elijah Wood takes nothing for granted
(CBS News) Elijah Wood starred as Frodo Baggins in the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, and will play the same character again in "The Hobbit," which debuts in December. It's a meaty role, and our Tracy Smith chatted with him about it - in a meaty place, as it turns out . . .
Elijah Wood says he is a big "appreciator."
"I am," he told Smith. "I don't take anything for granted"
When we asked Wood to pick a spot for an interview, he surprised us by suggesting a place near his house in Venice, Calif., serving the finest in encased meat.
"Yeah, it's a sausage shop."
And why this place? "I love it. I love sausage."
He wasn't kidding.
"Yes, I am a foodie, a proud, card-carrying member of the foodie society!"
"Which means you go for adventurous stuff?' Smith asked.
"Oh yeah, absolutely. The older I get, the more adventurous I think I become. I will sort of try anything. There's nothing I'm afraid to try."
And that goes for Wood's career as well:
In 2005's "Green Street Hooligans," he made his bones with a rowdy street gang.
In a Beastie Boys video sendup last year he made music . . . kind of.
And as Frodo in the epic-adventure trilogy "The Lord of the Rings," Elijah Wood made movie history.
Did he have any idea how huge that was going to be? "Well, I don't think anything could've prepared us for the magnitude of its success and its reach."
Success, indeed: The "Rings" trilogy, released in 2001, '02 and '03, took in nearly $3 billion worldwide, and won a total of 17 Academy Awards. Wood's character, based on a story with a certain nerdy appeal, helped catapult the actor into the very un-nerdy world of a Hollywood heartthrob.
Born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, young Elijah was, by all accounts, a handful.
"I had a lot of energy - yeah, you've heard this?" he told Smith. "Yeah, I was known for having a lot of energy. I wasn't obnoxious, I'm going to stand up for myself! I just had a lot of energy that didn't necessarily always have an outlet."
His parents thought that energy could be channeled into acting, and took him to Los Angeles.
"I did a number of commercials shortly thereafter, and got my first role in a film shortly thereafter, which was a small part in 'Back to the Future II.'"
His debut scene - a kid in an orange T-shirt - lasted only a few seconds. But it quickly led to bigger things.
Elijah Wood was mischievous as Huck Finn, smitten with Christina Ricci in "The Ice Storm," and gutsy during a meteor strike in "Deep Impact."
Off-screen, he was every inch a movie star, but without the drama.
He attributes avoiding those childhood star pitfall to his mother and family. "You know, she really drilled humility into me," he said. ."She never allowed me to accept treatment that wasn't deserved."
"Like, things would happen on a set where they'd try to move you to the front of a line and she wouldn't let me do that, like, 'Get to the back of the line like the rest of the crew!' And I was never made to feel better than anyone because I was an actor, because I did this as a profession."
These days, the humility comes in handy:
In the cable TV sitcom "Wlfred," Wood is Ryan, a depressed sad-sack who sees his neighbor's dog Wilfred as a full-grown man in a dog suit - kind of like the 1950 movie "Harvey," with the invisible rabbit only Jimmy Stewart could see.
Wilfred IS visible - and obnoxious.
"Wilfred acts as almost a guide for Ryan as he's trying to rebuild himself and recover," Wood explained. "You never quite know whether Wilfred's intentions are for Ryan's benefit or to his detriment, which is kind of the dynamic of the show."
Beyond acting, there's a lot for Wood to sink his teeth into.
He says he's not seeing anyone right now: "At the moment, there's not a lot of time."
Here's one reason why: The actor owns a record label, and spends hours hunting for vintage vinyl.
Wood says his passion for acting is rivaled only by his love of music.
"I've deejayed with it a couple of times. It's pretty awesome," he said.
At some of the coolest events in L.A., it's not unusual to see this movie star spinning records, just for the thrill of doing it.
"No scratching is involved," he said. "But now that I'm deejaying more often and with vinyl, I find that I'm buying more records just to facilitate that."
"Do people freak when they see you if they're not expecting - are they like, 'Oh my god, Frodo!'" Smith asked.
"Kind of. All sorts of reactions. Confusion, initially. Like, 'Are you ...? Wait, are you in 'Lord of the Rings'?' Like, just very confused."
Actually, he still IS Frodo: he'll reprise the part in the upcoming "Hobbit" trilogy, in a part written especially for him.
It may be his last turn doing this, but no matter how far Elijah Wood strays from Middle-Earth, it will always be a part of him.
He - and other "LOTR" cast members - have tattoos. "It stands for the nine members of the Fellowship. It's actually the number nine written out in Elvish, the language of the Elves. Doesn't get any more nerdy than that!" he laughed.
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