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‘Playing Frodo paved the way for a creativity I never had’

Actor-producer Elijah Wood on moonlighting as a DJ, on being a vinyl record geek and the global recall of LOTR

Written by Sankhayan Ghosh | Updated: September 5, 2015 12:04:21 am
Wooden Wisdom, DJ duo, Lord Of The Rings, Elijah Wood, Zach Cowie, LOTR, Talk DJ duo Wooden Wisdom

His defining image is that of a big blue-eyed, brave and kind teen out to save Middle Earth in Peter Jackson’s three-part, epic fantasy The Lord Of The Rings (LOTR). Known as an actor and a producer in numerous films and TV shows, Elijah Wood assumes a lesser-known role, that of playing a DJ with his collaborator Zach Cowie. Currently touring India for a three-city tour, Wood talks about how the gigs are an excuse to eat, and collect old records in India, his fascination with retro Bollywood music and how LOTR was a life-altering experience.

Excerpts from the interview:

How did India figure in the calendar of your DJ duo Wooden Wisdom?

We like to travel and to go to places we’ve never been to. Somebody suggested India and culturally it has always been fascinating. It has an extraordinarily rich heritage of music and we’ve been a fan of the Western inspired music of Bollywood films from the ‘70s and ‘80s. I’ve always loved Indian food too. India always has been an extraordinary, singular, well defined country that is unlike any other place in the world.

You’ve said in interviews that your bucket list tends to relate to travel and eating. What do you have in mind for India?

That’s true. We are in Mumbai, then we’ll go to Delhi and Hyderabad for the gigs and will be back in Mumbai again, where we will spend most of our time. I’ve heard great things about Goa too. Honestly, it’s all new to me. I am just looking to experience the cities in their complete capacity. It’s really an exploratory journey for me. Eating food typical of the regions I travel to, is something I like to do. I want to try out the street food in particular. Both Zach and I are also vinyl record geeks. I’ve been collecting old records since I was a child. India has a rich tradition of soundtrack music; what makes Bollywood retro music unique is the combination of almost machine-like, electronic production and the soulful vocals. Our plan is to collect old records for our collection.

How was Wooden Wisdom formed and what kind of music do you play?

Zach and I met through mutual friends five years ago. Zach’s previous DJ name was Wisdom, and combined with mine, we became Wooden Wisdom. It didn’t take more than a year to formally start something together. Zach is a music supervisor for TV and films and and he also releases old records. We don’t create music. We are DJs, neither of us play any instruments. We like playing music, that we enjoy listening to, for others. A lot of it is old vinyl records. It’s, in a way, to encourage people to explore different kinds of music and find out what they like rather than consuming what’s being fed to them.

Will you be meeting any Indian artist, musician, or actor?

No. I don’t know artists by name here. But it would be an honour to meet someone who has shaped the identity of modern music and cinema in India.

One of the tabloids in Mumbai has described you as “Harry Potter and the Lord of the Rings star”. Do people outside also confuse you with Daniel Radcliffe and vice versa?

Oh, it has? Yes, it happens everywhere. Daniel has apparently been asked many times to sign my photographs. It’s very weird. I think it happens more because both The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter series are fantasy movies. I find it funny, I think he does too.
Although you have featured in films such as Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Sin City, people remember you as Frodo Baggins from LOTR.

That’s the easiest reference point wherever I travel in the world. I am not surprised. That movie has made an impression on a global scale more than anything else I have done.

It has massive following in India. What does the movie mean to you?

Working on the film has been truly life changing. I was 18 when we started shooting. And I grew into a man over the course of the next four years of its filming. I made some friends for life there. We lived in New Zealand for a year. It had a profound impact on me. It gave me a responsibility I was never given before and paved the way for a creativity I never had.

Why does your production house SpectreVision specialise in producing horror and genre movies?

I have loved horror movies since I was young. Genre and horror movies encapsulate different kind of stories and freedom to explore things other films don’t. At SpectreVision, we are honoured to have produced films such as A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, which was a much talked-about film.

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