What brought the Lord Of The Rings cast back together
Even 20 years after making the epic Lord Of the Rings trilogy in New Zealand, the fellowship of the ring are still taking care of each other.
Elijah Wood, who played Frodo Baggins in the hit, Oscar-winning movies based on J.R.R. Tolkien's much-loved books, says that even though two decades have passed since filming, the unique, gruelling experience remains "super vivid" and he's still close to the castmates who shared it with him.
And when Andrew Jack, the lead dialogue coach they worked closely with for Peter Jackson's films, died from coronavirus last week, they took solace in each other.
"He was a lovely, lovely man so that has also brought us all together in an email chain with a bunch of us communicating about that and sharing those memories and looking out for each other," Woods says over the phone from lockdown in Los Angeles, with his six-month-old son burbling in the background.
"We have all been through something pretty incredible 20 years ago and it's amazing how this much time can pass and yet we can get on email or a call and it's as if no time has passed."
Wood says he hasn't watched the movies in a long time, but they will always be part of his life and he's curious about the coming Amazon Prime series that will revisit Middle Earth to tell stories set in Tolkien's world, but set thousands of years before the events of LOTR.
"I know about as much as anybody else does so I am just curious," he says. "About what it's going to look like, what the stories are going to focus on, how it's going to feel. And it's exciting. There is so much history and storytelling prior to the events of The Hobbit and The Lord Of the Rings to mine multiple seasons, as I am sure they are planning, of television shows."
When Woods farewelled Frodo in 2003 (he returned as a small part of the Hobbit trilogy) he went out of his way to seek out new challenges and smaller films that would not involve such a commitment of time and responsibility. Even though he wasn't specifically looking for darker parts, some of his post LOTR roles such as the killer cannibal Kevin in Robert Rodriguez's Sin City and later as a serial killer in Maniac, helped bring to the fore a long-held love of horror films. Ten years ago, he started the production company SpectreVision with the aim of producing horror films in the US like the ones he admired being made in Europe, such as Let the Right One In and The Orphanage.
It was through SpectreVision that Wood got to know Ant Timpson (the pair co-produced the comedy-horror The Greasy Strangler), and readily agreed when the Kiwi filmmaker asked him to star in his directorial debut, Come To Daddy.
Woods stars as a douchey, LA hipster who tries to reconnect with his long-estranged father in a remote lake cabin, only to discover that his dad is not the person he thought as events unravel in bloody and blackly-comedic fashion.
The story used Timpson's real life experience as jumping off point - his father dropped dead in front of him and then he had to spent the better part of a week alone in a house with his body while friends and relatives paid respects and told stories of a man very different to the one the thought he knew.
While Come To Daddy was shot well before Wood and his girlfriend, producer Mette-Marie Kongsberg, had their son together, the former child actor said it made him think deeply about his own family relationships.
"I think it made me reflect on my own relationship with my father or lack thereof," he says. "I think everybody has complicated relationships with their parents. I have a complicated relationship with my father and I think that played into it a little bit."
Wood says that while horror films can often be dismissed as being for fans only, he thinks it's a particularly fertile time for the genre right now, naming directors such as Ari Aster (Hereditary, Midsommar) and Jordan Peele (Get Out, Us) as filmmakers smuggling bigger ideas into their fright fests.
"It's a constantly oscillating meter of B grade and A grade movies," he says. "But horror has always been an interesting place for storytelling and can be very beautiful. It takes a couple of examples to remind people what it's capable of doing. At its best it can be a trojan horse for greater ideas or real, thought-provoking concepts and issues that people didn't expect they were going to be subjected to and that's one of the powers of horror."
Come To Daddy is out now on video on demand and will be available in the Foxtel store from Wednesday.
Originally published as What brought the Lord Of The Rings cast back together