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Bullet Points: Dial ‘M’ For Mordor

Elijah Wood rose to fame by playing the cutest hobbit in the Shire, but his own taste in movies tends to run a little darker

Author Chris Wright Photography Jay L. Clendenin/Contour by Getty Images

interviewGiven the prominence of his big-footed, wide-eyed hobbit in Lord of the Rings, and his near-legendary good humor off screen, Elijah Wood isn’t exactly the stuff of nightmares. Yet, repeatedly, the 34-year-old actor has been drawn to macabre roles—the crazed serial killer in 2012’s Maniac comes to mind. In this month’s The Last Witch Hunter he plays a goodie, a priest who teams up with Vin Diesel to deliver the world from evil. While more fantasy romp than chiller, the film does have what Wood calls “stressful” moments. Here, he shares his thoughts on the horror genre, which he describes as a “passion.”  — (Oct. 23)

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• ON HIS HORROR INITIATION
“The first scary film I saw was Truth or Dare. I was 5 or 6. My brother is seven years older, and he used to rent these films and watch them with his friends, so I got to see them. It’s about a guy who comes home one day and catches his wife in bed with his best friend and spins out of control. He has these imaginary games of truth or dare, then starts killing people. I rediscovered it in my early 20s, and it holds up. It’s bad in the best way.”
 
• ON THE HORRORS IN TOLKIEN
“There are a lot of frightening elements and characters in Lord of the Rings—Sauron is terrifying. I’ve met younger kids who have seen the films, and I’m not sure this is a bad thing. Sometimes it’s not so good to shield children from dark material. I think there is something healthy in being exposed to frightening elements—it’s a safe way to deal with internal fears. You’re able to compartmentalize them, to recognize that this is just a story. Having said that, these films may be a little too scary for kids under 6.”
 
• ON HORROR OVERLOAD
“There’s a French film called Martyrs, which, for me, put the final nail in the coffin of this subgenre of gore and intense violence. I think movies like this rely more on shock and less on character and story development, and that gets a little tiring. I’m not saying I don’t like violence and gore, but it depends on how it’s done. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a piece of art. It’s terrifying and gruesome, but it’s also strangely beautiful. You can’t take your eyes off it.”
 
• ON THE HORRORS OF FAME
“One unsettling thing is having someone find out where you live and show up on your doorstep. I’ve had that a couple of times. It’s a tricky thing. I don’t want my privacy infringed on. I want to feel safe at home. But at the same time these are people, and you want to treat them with respect. There are other things. I don’t get stage fright, but public speaking, standing in front of a group of people and speaking—I find that pretty terrifying. That’s a real, genuine fear.”

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