Has Elijah Wood been sidelined by Hollywood?

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Elijah Wood made his first dent in the acting world with the first movie of the endlessly popular The Lord of the Rings trilogy in 2001, and what a dent it was. Prior to his central role as the stoic hobbit Frodo Baggins, Wood enjoyed exposure in smaller roles in Back to the Future Part II, The Good Son and Deep Impact, among others. Wood’s Lord of the Rings casting simultaneously kickstarted and forestalled his acting career. 

Like his contemporary franchise star Daniel Radcliffe, who starred in the first Harry Potter movie in 2001, Wood quickly fell under the shade of typecasting. Having appeared in such an iconic role across Peter Jackson’s groundbreaking trilogy, Wood understandably feared and fell subject to the typecasting curse following The Return of the King in 2003. In response, Wood sought roles as far from fantasy as possible, resulting in unexpected projects like Green Street, a British football hooligan movie, and the romantic sci-fi movie starring Jim Carrey, The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

“It’s funny,” Wood once told The Guardian of his typecast troubles. “When Maniac was first announced all the references in the press were to Frodo, yet that was eight years ago! I’ve worked on a bunch of vastly different movies since then. I guess what it showed is that Frodo’s never going away. The Lord of the Rings transcended the thing of simply being films. They’ve entered popular culture in an extreme and probably irreversible way.” 

These fantasy-free roles undoubtedly added eclecticism to Wood’s resume, but over time, his presence in the film industry appears to have tapered. This is, in part, attributable to the fact that he’s no one-trick pony. Wood runs his own production company, SpectreVision, and even dabbles in the music business with his own label, Simian Records. Since founding the label in 2005, Wood has become a revered DJ and a trusted patron of the art. 

With these side exploits and a notable shift to voice-acting roles of late, Wood seems perfectly happy to evade the limelight and shake off the paparazzi. However, it is possible that Wood’s estrangement from Hollywood wasn’t entirely of his own volition. 

Wood is known for his exemplary moral compass; beyond philanthropy and charity work, he rarely shirks from speaking out in the name of justice. For a brief character reference, Liev Schreiber, who directed 2005’s Everything Is Illuminated, once described Wood as having a “sincere goodness as a human being”.

As illustrated by Harvey Weinstein’s sexual misconduct case, Hollywood may be as beautiful and ubiquitous as the Moon, but its dark side can’t be ignored. In such an industry, brave voices are vital for progressive justice, but when perpetrators hold high positions, it can spell disaster for career prospects. 

In 2020, Wood antagonised Hollywood executives after telling the British newspaper The Sunday Times that the American film industry was full of sexual predators using their powerful positions to target young, aspiring actors. “If you can imagine it, it probably happened,” Wood said. “If you’re innocent — you have very little knowledge of the world, and you want to succeed — people with parasitic interests will see you as their prey.” 

He continued to compare the scale of Hollywood’s dark secrets to those of disgraced British TV personality Jimmy Savile, who used his position and a philanthropic cover act to abuse up to 500 victims before his death in 2011. 

Amid the subsequent furore, Wood backed up the statement while conceding that he has no “first-hand” experience of Hollywood’s dark side. “Let me be clear,” he explained. “This subject of child abuse is an important one that should be discussed and properly investigated. But as I made absolutely clear…I have no first-hand experience or observation of the topic.” 

It is unclear to what extent these statements have impacted or will impact Wood’s career in the movie business, but he can rest assured knowing he was right to speak out on the subject. With his own production and record label businesses running smoothly, Wood has little to fret about.

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