Elijah Wood gives us the goods on his new character, his thoughts if the real draft were reinstated and his future projects.
Elijah Wood obviously doesn't let success get to his head. After starring in one of the biggest movie franchises in history, you know, the one with that Ring... you would've thought he would ride off into Action-Hero-Land and never look back. Thankfully, he hasn't and continues to impress us with his depth in unique roles in smaller films such as Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and a personal favorite of mine, Green Street Hooligans. His latest role is for the independent film Day Zero, a film where the military draft is reinstated and three friends(Elijah Wood, Chris Klein and Jon Bernthal) who are all drafted have to choose their paths. I had the privilege to speak with the actor over the phone.
It looks like this is the latest in a string of movies that deals either directly or indirectly with the Iraq War. What would you say sets this movie apart from the rest?
Elijah Wood: I haven't seen a lot of the other films that deal with the war, but I would say that this is the least political of all of them. The war is definitely in the background, only referred to in radio news blips and conversation. I think, ultimately, this film is about the choices these guys are faced with. In that way, I think this is a more personal story about their friendship, about the reaction that they have when they're essentially faced with death, to a certain degree. So, as much as it is about this continuing war, the reinstated draft, and their individual views, it's really sort of a deeply human tale, and a character study as well.
Was this something you pursued or did the producers come to you, and why did you take this role?
Elijah Wood: I was given the script, and I'd never seen a character quite like him (Aaron Fuller) before. I've certainly never played anyone quite like him, so I was intrigued by the challenge he presented, starting off seemingly normal and then he realizes that he can't deal with the impending doom that he feels war is going to bring. I was intrigued by that, and then I ultimately met with the director. He wanted to meet with me, and Bryan (Gunnar Cole) flew out and he had all these ideas for the film, and I knew I wanted to be a part of it. It seemed like a unique film and a unique story.
I found your character Aaron Fuller's Top 10 list online. I'm not sure if I should say what they are for spoiler reasons, but are those listed in order of importance?
Elijah Wood: Yes. (Laughs). It's pretty hilarious. That was one of my favorites. It also indicates how disconnected he is. The reality of Aaron is that he already has problems. He already has a sense of disconnectedness. He realizes that he has no connection to his family. His own emotional development is jilted, so when he's faced with this, of course he's going to react in the way that he does. He has no emotional support around him, his own psychiatrist is sort of lacking any kind of support. That list is a great insight into his own mind, and what's important to him. (Laughs) As funny as it is, it's also quite sad as well.
Very true. You seem to take on these radically different characters with each new film endeavor. What can we expect from Aaron Fuller, and your portrayal of him?
Elijah Wood: Well, like I said before he is a very unique character and he's unlike anyone I've played before. From when you first meet him, he seems relatively well-adjusted and he's a writer and all of that. Ultimately he kind of crumbles over the course of the film as he faces the inability to face that he's been drafted. For me, it was uncharted territory to a certain degree. Those moments of solitude and exhibiting a mental breakdown, and how you do that physically and without it being too obvious, but being relatively settled but relatively intense. There are some intense moments in there that sort of pepper his breakdown. He shaves his head, I think in sort of an effort to prepare, oddly enough. I think he's sort of preparing himself to go, despite the fact he knows he can't. He has an almost physical transformation where he's trying to build himself up to be a soldier, but he ultimately can't do it in the end. That's a pretty important road mark.
Given the national climate about the war in Iraq, what do you think the response would be if the draft actually was reinstated?
Elijah Wood: I think people would be up in arms. I think we would most likely have a similar situation to what happened in the 60s. I don't know if it would be as violent, I think it would be difficult to say that. But I think that, from what I can understand, our nation as a whole is largely against the war as it stands. I think that if there was a draft, especially at this stage, considering we've been there as long as we have, and I think positive public opinion has dwindled over time... I just can't imagine that people would stand for it. People are wanting to potentially elect someone who will get our troops out, so at this stage, if the draft was reinstated, I just think that people would have none of it. We could be surprised, and it could be the opposite, but I can't believe that.
Is there anything you can tell is about The Oxford Murders or 9? They both sound like very unique projects.
Elijah Wood: Yeah, sure. Oxford Murders is essentially a murder mystery, set in Oxford College. I play a young man who travels to Oxford to study under a mathematician professor, played by John Hurt. We both discover a body together and that ultimately sets forth a series of murders that we try to decipher. That is coming out in Spain and France and England first, and then I believe it's coming to the States after that. That's why I'm actually in Paris at the moment, working on press for the film. Then there's a movie called 9. It's an animated film directed by Shane Acker and executive produced by Tim Burton. That is actually a fully fleshed-out version of the 9 short film that won Best Animated Short at the Oscars, I believe, a couple of years ago. It's about a post-apocalyptic world, essentially, a world where humanity has been destroyed by the machinery it has created. There are these rag dolls, these mechanized rag dolls, that are the only living thing left and they are trying to figure out who they are, and what they are and why humanity was destroyed. It's sort of (laughs) it's relatively dark fare, but the animation style is extraordinary and the story is quite an adventurous one and quite unique in regards to the animated films that have been released in the past couple of years.
That's about all I've got. Thanks a lot for your time, Elijah.
Elijah Wood: Yeah, of course. Thank you very much.
And tell Alex de la Iglesia (director of Oxford Murders) I loved his last movie, A Perfect Crime.
Elijah Wood: Oh, cool. Yeah, I will. That's awesome. I love that movie too.
Day Zero opens in January 18, in limited release.