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Elijah Wood

Elijah Wood

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Also Known As: Elijah Jordan Wood Died:
Born: January 28, 1981 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Cedar Rapids, Iowa, USA Profession: actor, model

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

As a child star, Elijah Woodâ¿¿s gentle demeanor and expressive eyes made him eminently likable with audiences, but it was his innate talent which helped him to make the successful transformation from cute kid to respected adult actor. At age nine, Wood was already well on his way in Hollywood when director Barry Levinson gave him a prominent role in "Avalon" (1990). The young actor soon starred in a wide variety of projects, including "The Good Son" (1993), the Rob Reiner flop "North" (1994), the Ang Lee-directed drama "The Ice Storm" (1997), and the teen horror romp "The Faculty" (1998). It was, however, the announcement in 1999 that Wood had been cast in the leading role of Frodo Baggins in Peter Jacksonâ¿¿s massive "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy that would forever mark his still young career. Filmed over the course of an entire year in New Zealand, the "Rings" films were huge successes, both critically and commercially, propelling Wood into the strata of full-fledged movie star. After the final entry in the fantasy series had premiered, Wood kept up the momentum with roles in high-profile films like Robert Rodriguezâ¿¿s noir comic book adaptation "Sin City" (2005), more intimate projects like...

As a child star, Elijah Woodâ¿¿s gentle demeanor and expressive eyes made him eminently likable with audiences, but it was his innate talent which helped him to make the successful transformation from cute kid to respected adult actor. At age nine, Wood was already well on his way in Hollywood when director Barry Levinson gave him a prominent role in "Avalon" (1990). The young actor soon starred in a wide variety of projects, including "The Good Son" (1993), the Rob Reiner flop "North" (1994), the Ang Lee-directed drama "The Ice Storm" (1997), and the teen horror romp "The Faculty" (1998). It was, however, the announcement in 1999 that Wood had been cast in the leading role of Frodo Baggins in Peter Jacksonâ¿¿s massive "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy that would forever mark his still young career. Filmed over the course of an entire year in New Zealand, the "Rings" films were huge successes, both critically and commercially, propelling Wood into the strata of full-fledged movie star. After the final entry in the fantasy series had premiered, Wood kept up the momentum with roles in high-profile films like Robert Rodriguezâ¿¿s noir comic book adaptation "Sin City" (2005), more intimate projects like "The Romantics" (2010), and the bizarre TV comedy series "Wilfred" (FX, 2011- ). The opportunities continued to be vast and varied for Wood, a talented performer who, while proving his versatility as an actor, would be forever remembered for his moving portrayal of the brave hobbit, Frodo.

Born Elijah Jordan Wood on Jan. 28, 1981 in Cedar Rapids, IA to parents Debbie and Warren, Wood began modeling as a youngster, and after being spotted by a Los Angeles-based talent agent, entered film with small parts in "Back to the Future II" (1989) and "Internal Affairs" (1990), in addition to several made-for-TV movies. Impressed by the child actorâ¿¿s ability, director Barry Levinson cast Wood as the grandson of Russian-Jewish immigrants growing up in mid-century Baltimore in his autobiographical family drama, "Avalon" (1990). The following year, he gave a heartwarming performance as a young boy who becomes the impetus for bringing an estranged married couple (Don Johnson and Melanie Griffith) back together after the death of their child in "Paradise" (1991). Wood continued to hone his craft in the Richard Donner directed "Radio Flyer" (1992), the nostalgic story of two young boys who take refuge in a rich fantasy life as a means of escaping the physical and emotional abuse of their stepfather. The same year, the busy young thespian starred opposite Mel Gibson and Jamie Lee Curtis in the romantic drama "Forever Young" (1992), about a man revived after being cryogenically frozen for 50 years. Wood held his own against child star Macauley Culkin as an orphan sent to live with his Svengali-like cousin after the death of his parents in "The Good Son" (1993). On cable, he appeared as a child ghost haunting a Nazi concentration camp soldier (Gary Sinise) in the mini-movie, "The Witness" (Showtime, 1993), and landed the title role in the Disneyfied big screen adaptation of Twainâ¿¿s "The Adventures of Huck Finn" (1993).

More prominent roles continued to come Woodâ¿¿s way, with films like "North" (1994), directed by Rob Reiner and boasting an all-star cast. The tale of a precocious boy who feels so unappreciated by his parents, that he deems himself a "free agent" and travels the world in search of the perfect mom and dad, "North" was a rare misfire for Reiner and was savaged by the critics. Receiving a slightly warmer welcome was the family drama "The War" (1994), starring Kevin Costner as a father recently returned from Vietnam. After a brief hiatus, Wood returned with the movie adaptation of the aquatic family adventure series "Flipper" (1996), opposite Paul Hogan. In "The Ice Storm" (1997), the critically lauded Ang Lee film that examined the interconnected lives of several people in an upper-class suburb in 1970s Connecticut, he played the troubled son of Sigourney Weaver. Wood followed up the next year with two more commercially friendly features. "The Faculty" (1998), directed by Robert Rodriguez and written by Kevin Williamson, was a teen horror movie about a group of high school students who discover their teachersâ¿¿ bodies are being taken over by malicious aliens. Also that year, Wood appeared in the big-budget, apocalyptic blockbuster "Deep Impact" (1998), which recounted the days leading up to an asteroidâ¿¿s collision with earth. Two years later, he made an appearance in James Tobackâ¿¿s flawed experimental drama "Black and White" (1999), a largely improvised examination of race relations in urban America.

The high point of the young actorâ¿¿s career came when Wood was given the coveted role of the gentle hobbit, Frodo Baggins, in director Peter Jacksonâ¿¿s epic film adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkienâ¿¿s fantasy trilogy, "The Lord of the Rings." Woodâ¿¿s character was the lynchpin of an adventure that began when Frodo inherited the "One Ring" from his elderly uncle, Bilbo. The magical ring would enable the evil wizard Sauron to hold sway over all of Middle Earth, and so brave little Frodo and a mismatched group of hobbits, dwarves, elves, and humans set out on a quest to destroy it in the fires of Mount Doom. A truly massive undertaking â¿¿ one that would have bankrupt New Line Cinema, had it failed at the box office â¿¿ Jackson filmed all three installments at once over the course of a year in his homeland of New Zealand. The gamble paid off, as the first film in the series, "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring" (2001), was a smashing success with both fans and critics, launching Wood and his co-stars into the realm of international stars. The second chapter, "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers" (2002), was an even bigger success. That same year, Wood was also seen in the direct-to-video "Life Without Dick" (2002), in addition to starring opposite Edward Burns in "Ash Wednesday" (2002), playing the younger brother of the director-actor in this look at the Irish vs. Italian gang wars of the 1980s. Frodo and companyâ¿¿s quest at last came to an end in the rousing conclusion, "The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King" (2003), bringing one of the greatest adventure fantasies ever filmed to a close and garnering a Best Picture Academy Award.

Fresh off the monumental trilogy, Wood soon appeared in his first significant post-Frodo role in the off-kilter but visually enthralling "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" (2004), playing opposite stars Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet as an ethically challenged lab tech, specializing in erasing unwanted painful memories. Next, Wood went far against type as the silent, razor-nailed, cannibalistic killer, Kevin, in the hyper-stylized adaptation of Frank Millerâ¿¿s violent comic book series, "Sin City" (2005), marking his second collaboration with director Robert Rodriguez. Busier than ever, Wood also appeared in two small films that same year. "Green Street Hooligans" (2005) found him playing an expelled American undergrad who befriends a football thug after he begins living with his sister in England. Wood rounded out the year with "Everything is Illuminated" (2005), playing a young man on a humorous and bizarre journey to the Ukraine in search of a woman who saved his grandfatherâ¿¿s life during World War II. For George Millerâ¿¿s animated "Happy Feet" (2006), Wood provided the voice for Mumble, a vocally-challenged penguin who discovers his only chance at wooing a mate is through his slick dance moves. Then in "Bobby" (2006), director Emilio Estevez's ensemble piece chronicling the hours leading up to the assassination of Senator Robert F. Kennedy at Los Angelesâ¿¿ Ambassador Hotel, Wood portrayed a young man about leave for Vietnam who wants to marry a young girl (Lindsay Lohan) he barely knows before he is shipped out.

Woodâ¿¿s next project, "Paris, I Love You" (2007), was another ensemble film, comprised of several separate vignettes, each with its own internationally renowned director, all dealing with romance in the city of love. In the independent drama "Day Zero" (2008), Wood played a novelist with a terrible case of writerâ¿¿s block, brought on when he is drafted into military service within 30 days. He also took on more voice work with the visually stunning, albeit plot- light, animated sci-fi adventure "9" (2009). After this came the feeble "The Romantics" (2010), a romantic comedy with aspirations of being the next "The Big Chill" (1983), in which Wood and a group of former college chums gather for a wedding, only to air their collective dirty laundry after a night of heavy drinking. The academic murder mystery "The Oxford Murders" (2010), co-starring John Hurt, also saw a very limited release that same year, before being banished to DVD. In a more high-profile project, Wood returned to the Antarctic to voice the toe-tapping penguin Mumbles for the animated sequel "Happy Feet Two" (2011) prior to taking on his first regular TV series role on the black comedy "Wilfred" (FX, 2011- ). Based on the critically-acclaimed Australian series of the same name, it starred Wood as Ryan, a deeply depressed young man whose life is turned around by the appearance of Wilfred (creator Jason Gann, reprising the original character), a foul-mouthed, vice-prone Australian man in a dog suit who everyone else sees as a normal canine. Although Woodâ¿¿s absurd new endeavor met with wildly divergent appraisals from critics, it proved a success with viewers, who tuned in in droves, making it one of FXâ¿¿s highest-rated debut sitcoms

Woodâ¿¿s screen presence ramped up considerably the following year with a slew of diverse projects that began with his turn as Ben Gunn, a cohort of the treacherous Long John Silver (Eddie Izzard) in the U.K. adaptation of Robert Louis Stevensonâ¿¿s classic tale of skullduggery, "Treasure Island" (Syfy, 2012). He was next seen in a contemporary setting in the indie romantic-comedy "Celeste & Jesse Forever" (2012) as the business partner of Celeste (Rashida Jones), a single woman involved in a dysfunctional platonic relationship with her ex-boyfriend (Andy Samberg). At the same time Wood could be heard on television as the voice of Beck, the rebellious, computer-generated protagonist on the animated sci-fi adventure spin-off "TRON: Uprising" (Disney XD, 2012- ). Near the end of the year, the actor delivered a fearlessly unhinged performance as a dangerously obsessed mannequin shop owner in the indie-horror remake "Maniac" (2012). By far the biggest headline grabber for Wood, though, was his return to the role of Frodo for "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" (2012), the first in a trilogy of films, once more based on Tolkienâ¿¿s beloved tales of Middle-earth. A reunion of sorts with director Peter Jackson, the highly-anticipated film also brought back the likes of Ian McKellen, Cate Blanchett and Andy Serkis to their key roles.

By Bryce Coleman

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Over the Garden Wall (2015) Wirt
3.
4.
 Cooties (2014)
5.
 Grand Piano (2014)
6.
 Open Windows (2014)
8.
9.
 Maniac (2012)
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1988:
Mother enrolled him in modeling school
1989:
Moved to Los Angeles with his family
1989:
First break was a small role in Paula Abdul's music video for "Forever Your Girl"; directed by David Fincher
1989:
Made feature debut in "Back to the Future II"
1990:
First significant role, playing Aidan Quinn's son in Barry Levinson's "Avalon"
1991:
First starring role, "Paradise," in which he played a young boy who brings estranged couple Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson back together
1992:
Co-starred with Joseph Mazzello in "Radio Flyer"
1992:
Co-starred with Mel Gibson and Jamie Lee Curtis in "Forever Young"
1993:
Played the lead role in "The Adventures of Huck Finn"
1994:
Played the title role in Rob Reiner's comedy "North"
1994:
Played Kevin Costner's son in "War"
1996:
Played the lead role in "Flipper"
1997:
Portrayed the Artful Dodger (complete with Cockney accent) in the ABC movie presentation of "Oliver Twist"
1997:
Won praise for his performance as the older son of Jamey Sheridan and Sigourney Weaver in Ang Lee's "The Ice Storm"
1998:
Co-starred in the surprise blockbuster "Deep Impact" and the Robert Rodriquez thriller "The Faculty"
1999:
Played the boyfriend of a wannabe hip-hop groupie in James Toback's "Black and White"
2001:
Portrayed Frodo Baggins in Peter Jackson's film version of "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring"
2001:
Acted in "Life Without Dick"; aired on on Encore in lieu of theatrical release
2002:
Reprised role of Frodo Baggins for "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers"
2002:
Played the younger brother of Edward Burns' character in Burns' "Ash Wednesday"
2003:
Again played Frodo in the final installment of Peter Jackson's "Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King"
2004:
Co-starred with Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet in Michel Gondry's "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind"; written by Charlie Kaufman
2005:
Played a journalist turned thug in "Green Street Hooligans," a film about the violent gangs associated with England's soccer teams
2005:
Co-starred in the film adaptation of Frank Miller's uber-noir series of graphic novels "Sin City"; co-directed by Miller and Robert Rodriguez
2005:
Starred in Liev Schreiber's directing debut "Everything Is Illuminated," as a young American in search of the woman who saved his Jewish grandfather during the Nazi invasion in Ukraine
2006:
Cast in Emilio Estevez's directorial debut "Bobby," an ensemble centered around the night of Robert F. Kennedy's assassination
2006:
Voice the main character Mumble in the animated film "Happy Feet"
2007:
Co-starred with Chris Klein and Jon Bernthal in "Day Zero"
2009:
Lent his voice to the feature-length adaptation of Shane Acker's short film "9"
2011:
Cast as a man who forms a unique relationship with his neighbor¿s dog on the FX series "Wilfred"
2011:
Reprised voiceover role in the animated sequel "Happy Feet Two"
2012:
Returned to Middle Earth as Frodo in "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey," based on the novel by J.R.R. Tolkien and directed by Peter Jackson
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Notes

There is an official website at www.elijahwood.com.

"Acting, if you have the right idea about the whole situation... can help you grow as a person. I've become smarter as a person. I've had a better education -- with tutors. In a way, it can be a very positive thing." --Elijah Wood quoted in USA Today, November 4, 1994.

"He's the first child actor I've worked with that I think is really an actor, he's not tied to his cuteness." --Director Jon Avnet on working with Wood quoted in Entertainment Weekly, November 25, 1994.

"To be believable as an actor you need to be as completely real as possible. Don't let Hollywood and limos get in the way. All that stuff is so unimportant. Stay grounded." --Wood in The Hollywood Reporter's Showbiz Kids Special Issue, November 19, 1996.

Wood on "The Faculty": "It's going to have the inevitable comparisons to 'Scream' because Kevin Williamson was the writer, but I can't compare it to anything else I've seen. 'Scream' started the whole teen-genre explosion. Everyone was happy that the movie re-established the horror genre, but it's gone sour. It's really old now and has spun these pathetic remakes. They gave me this scriptm, and I thought there are so many of these movies being made and I don't want to be a part of this. Then director Robert Rodriquez, who made 'From Dusk 'Til Dawn' signed on, and I knew he would bring something new to it, his vision - which had already impressed me. He was like our big brother." --quoted in London's Evening Standard, April 11, 1999.

"As interesting as the project seemed, I was really scared because it was so far away from anything I'd done. Then I came to the conclusion that if you're ever fearful of taking a step forward to a place that could be better for you, you should always take it, because that's the only way you'll ever grow. So despite how afraid I was, I made the decision to continue."---Elijah Wood to Brooke Shields, talking about their film "Black and White" Interview October 1999

"It has been the experience of a lifetime. I doubt I'll ever get another chance to realize a character this fully." --Elijah Wood on playing Frodo Baggins in Peter Jackson's "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, quoted to E! Online in their "Sizzlin' 16" special, January 2001.

"I'm done with Frodo, which is kind of amazing. It's sad in one respect because it's been such an incredible journey, and I think some of us felt like it would never end--in a good way. But it's nice to have a sense of completion, particularly with this last movie, which I think we're all the most proud of."---Wood on completing The Lord of the Rings Nylon Magazine December 2003

Companions close complete companion listing

companion:
Bijou Phillips. Model, actor. Dated; no longer together.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Warren Wood. Remained in Iowa when family moved to L.A. for Elijah's career; formally separated from Debbie Wood c. 1996; divorced.
mother:
Debbie Wood. Roman Catholic; moved from Iowa with children to L.A. to aid in Elijah's career; formally separated from Warren Wood c. 1996; divorced.
brother:
Zachariah Wood. Video game producer, former actor. Born c. 1974.
sister:
Hannah Wood. Actor. Born c. 1984.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

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