Performers have all manner of approaches when it comes to bringing an iconic story to life, so when Elijah Wood was cast as Frodo for Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings trilogy, he started reading the books before ultimately opting to stick with the version of the character that was represented in the films' scripts. All these years later, Wood confirms that he has yet to go back to finish the J.R.R. Tolkien books, admitting his embarrassment not only because he starred in the films, but also because they are such a popular series among fantasy fans.
"The book is dense and verbose and incredible and literary and beautiful, but heavy. I found it taxing to read the book with all the work in tandem I was doing on my character. I sort of pivoted my focus to just live in the world of the character as written in the scripts and trust the process," Wood expressed to Esquire. "I still haven't read it, 20 years later. It's ridiculous that I haven't. It is my cross to bear. It's so dumb. Everybody else has read it."
While the books themselves, along with Tolkien's The Hobbit, had been literary staples for decades, Jackson's cinematic adaptations helped establish the world of Middle-earth as an integral component of pop culture whose presence is felt 20 years later.
Part of what made the films themselves so impressive was that Jackson shot them all back to back to back, allowing them to hit theaters on an annual basis. This also meant that the cast spent 14 months together bringing this epic to life, in addition to reshoots. Despite not having completed the source material, Wood recalled just how impressed he was with the finished films, though it was a challenge to enjoy as a fan without thinking of the reality behind each scene.
"It was totally overwhelming," the actor recalled of the film's screening. "I didn't know what to feel, to be totally honest with you. I knew I loved it, but I couldn't process it. I remember all of us walking away kind of in a daze, sort of bowled over and overwhelmed and in love with it, but couldn't make heads or tails until we saw it again. And I think that was just the enormity of it all and separating our personal experience from what it is, seeing it for what it is, an amazing experience. I certainly haven't had that since."
Amazon Studios is currently developing a The Lord of the Rings-inspired TV series.
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