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Wood, the middle of three children, was born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, the son of Debra D. (née Krause) and Warren W. Wood, delicatessen operators.[1] He has English, Irish, German, and Polish ancestry, and was raised a Catholic. As a child he took piano lessons from Marlene Loftsgaarden in Cedar Rapids. He took to the stage in his elementary school's staging of the play The Sound of Music. The following year, he graduated to the title character in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Wood also served as choir boy during the production of See How They Run, produced by the Marion Creative Council.

Wood modeled and did local commercials before moving with his family to Los Angeles in 1988. It was there that Wood got his first break: a small role in a video by Paula Abdul - "Forever Your Girl," directed by David Fincher. Film work followed almost instantly in Back to the Future Part II (1989). It was Wood's role as Aidan Quinn's son in Barry Levinson's 1990 film Avalon (the third film in the Baltimore trilogy containing 1982's Diner and 1987's Tin Men) that first gave Wood attention, as the film received widespread critical acclaim and was nominated for four Academy Awards.

After a small part in the Richard Gere pot-boiler Internal Affairs (1990), he secured his first starring role in Paradise (1991), in which he played a young boy who brings estranged couple Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson back together. He received good reviews for his performance - some said it was one of the best things about the film - and from there, he went on to co-star with Mel Gibson and Jamie Lee Curtis in Forever Young and with Joseph Mazzello in Radio Flyer (both were released in 1992).

In 1993, he co-starred with Macaulay Culkin in The Good Son, and in the same year he had the lead role in The Adventures of Huck Finn. In 1994 he starred in The War (1994), with Kevin Costner. His performance in this movie gained him a nomination for a 'Young Star Award' (for which he was nominated four times, and won twice), and Roger Ebert said in his review of the film that:

"Elijah Wood has emerged, I believe, as the most talented actor in his age group, in Hollywood history".[2]

Also in 1994, he had the title role in North, a film remarkable for the volume of bad reviews and bad box office that it received, but also for the fact that practically every bad review contained a positive assessment of Wood's performance.[citation needed] In 1995 he appeared in the music video for The Cranberries’ "Ridiculous Thoughts". The following year he got the lead role in Flipper (1996), which was not very successful, but the subsequent critical and financial success of Ang Lee's The Ice Storm (1997) provided a positive development in the young actor's career. As the soulfully dazed and confused Mikey Carver, Wood gave a portrayal remarkable for its rendering of the thoughtfulness and exquisite hopelessness inherent in the character.

In 1997 he starred in Oliver Twist, as The Artful Dodger. 1998's Deep Impact and The Faculty did not allow Wood the same degree of character development, but were great financial successes and further stepping stones in Wood's evolution from winsome child star to impressive young actor.

Wood's next role was as the boyfriend of a wannabe hip-hop groupie in James Toback's problematic Black and White (1999). He followed this with a role as a junior hitman in Chain of Fools.

Wood further developed as an actor in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, the first installment of director Peter Jackson's adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's literary trilogy. His most hotly anticipated project, the 2001 film gave Wood top billing as Frodo Baggins, alongside a glittering cast that included Sir Ian McKellen, Cate Blanchett, Christopher Lee, Sean Bean, Viggo Mortensen, and Liv Tyler.

The Lord of the Rings was filmed in New Zealand and, before the cast left the country, Jackson gave Wood two gifts: one of the One Ring props used on the set and Sting, Frodo's sword. He was also given a pair of prosthetic "hobbit feet" he wore during filming. That same year, the young actor could be seen in less mystical surroundings, courtesy of Ed Burns' Ash Wednesday, a crime drama that also featured Oliver Platt and Rosario Dawson.

In 2002, Wood lent his voice to Disney's straight-to-video release of The Adventures of Tom Thumb and Thumbelina. Of course, his most substantial role of 2002 is inarguably his return to the role of hobbit Frodo Baggins in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.

2003 proved to be a similar year for Wood; after two relatively small jobs (his role credited as 'The Guy' in Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over and his stint as First Assistant Director in Sean Astin's The Long and Short of It served purely as a break for Elijah), he starred in All I Want and once again resumed his role as Frodo Baggins for The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003), the last chapter in Tolkien's trilogy.

[edit] After The Lord of the Rings

Hot on the heels of the trilogy, Wood quickly appeared in his first post-Frodo role in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004), playing an ethically challenged lab technician who helps erase heartbreaking memories but then uses his knowledge of the past relationship of an unknowing former patient (played by Kate Winslet) to woo her.

He then had a chillingly silent turn as the cannibalistic, bespectacled serial killer Kevin in director Robert Rodriguez and writer-artist Frank Miller's visually arresting adaptation of Miller's crime noir comic book series Sin City (2005), appearing opposite Mickey Rourke in the segment "The Hard Goodbye". On May 12, 2005 , Wood hosted a program called MTV Presents: The Next Generation Xbox Revealed, when the new Xbox 360 was launched.[3]

Also in 2005, Wood starred in Everything Is Illuminated, in which he plays a young American Jewish man on a quest to find the woman who once saved his grandfather during the Second World War, and Green Street Hooligans, as an American college student who falls in with a violent English football firm. Both had limited release, but were critically acclaimed.

Wood shot a small part in Paris, je t'aime, which consists of eighteen 5-minute sections. Each section is directed by a different director. Wood’s section, called "Quartier de la Madeleine", was directed by Vincenzo Natali. The film opened on May 18 at 2006 Cannes Film Festival and was shown at 2006 Toronto International Film Festival. First Look Pictures acquired the North American rights, and the film opened in the US in early 2007.[4]

One of his most recent films was Emilio Estevez's Bobby, in which his character gets married to change his draft classification.[5] It premiered at the Venice Film Festival and was released on November 17, 2006 in New York and Los Angeles. Wide release followed on November 23.

In Happy Feet,[6] Wood provided the voice of Mumble, a penguin who can tap dance, but not sing. Happy Feet was released on November 17, 2006 and has grossed over $380 million dollars worldwide. The movie also received a Golden Globe Award nomination and won an Academy Award and a BAFTA for Best Animated Feature.

Wood has finished filming Day Zero,[7] a drama about the draft, in which he portrays Aaron Feller. The film had its debut at the 2007 Tribeca Film Festival.

On November 19, Wood hosted the special "Saving a Species: The Great Penguin Rescue" for Discovery Kids Channel,[8] for which he has been nominated for a Daytime Emmy in the category of acting in a children/youth/family special.[9] On January 4, 2007 Wood joined Screen Actors Guild President Alan Rosenberg to announce the nominees for the 13th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards®.[10]

Wood also has finished filming The Oxford Murders, film adaptation of the novel of the same name by Guillermo Martínez, in which he plays a graduate student, who investigates a series of bizarre, mathematically-based murders in Oxford.[11].[12] It was released in Spain on January 18th, 2008.

Wood also is set to star in The Passenger, a biopic about singer Iggy Pop as young man.[13] He has finished recording voice work for Tim Burton's upcoming animated feature film version of the short film 9.[14][15]

[edit] Other work

Elijah Wood is one of the biggest collectors of music in Hollywood. In 2005 Wood started his own record label called Simian Records. On September 19, 2006 Wood announced that Simian had signed The Apples in Stereo as their first band, with their new album New Magnetic Wonder released in February of 2007.[16] In addition he also directed the music video for "Energy".[17] The other band signed to Simian thus far is Heloise and the Savoir Faire. Wood declared he is a big fan of these two bands.[citation needed]

Wood has also provided voiceovers for videogames, via roles for Spyro in The Legend of Spyro: A New Beginning[18][19] - reprising the role for The Legend of Spyro: The Eternal Night,[20] and The Legend of Spyro: Dawn of the Dragon[21] - and Mumble in the game version of Happy Feet.[22] He also contributed his talents to fellow Lord of the Rings star Viggo Mortensen's album pandemoniumfromamerica, singing and playing various instruments on the album.[23]

Wood has signed to co-produce the film Black Wings Has My Angel, based on the noir novel of the same name, with Anthony Moody and Rob Malkani of Indalo Productions.[24]

On April 11, 2008, Elijah was the guest host of Channel 4's Friday Night Project.

Wood likes to keep his personal life away from the media spotlight, and is particularly private about his romantic relationships. However, it is known that in 2002 he dated the German actress Franka Potente, the relationship ending later that year.[citation needed] Wood blamed the separation on age difference and distance. He still wears a ring Potente gave him, which bears a Hebrew inscription meaning 'if not now, when?', a quote from Hillel the Elder. Wood was also rumored to have dated Bijou Phillips, his co-star in Black And White, but in September 2005, he told Howard Stern that the rumor was untrue. Currently, he is dating Gogol Bordello's backup dancer Pamela Racine; the relationship began sometime after they met on the set of Everything Is Illuminated in 2004.[25]

In an interview about Everything Is Illuminated, director Liev Schreiber commented that Wood has a "generosity of spirit" and a "sincere goodness as a human being."[26] He also has supported several campaigns for charity as Keep a Child Alive or ALDO/YouthAIDS In addition to charity work, Wood is a known music buff who admits to owning something in the range of 4,000 CDs, and once cited his favorite band as The Smashing Pumpkins. His personal playlist of favorite songs can be accessed on iTunes.[27]

Wood has a tattoo of the Quenya-mode Tengwar symbol for "nine" just below his waist on the right side, a reference to his involvement in the Lord of the Rings and the fact that his character was one of the nine members of the Fellowship of the Ring. The other actors of "The Fellowship" (Sean Astin, Sean Bean, Billy Boyd, Ian McKellen, Dominic Monaghan, Viggo Mortensen, and Orlando Bloom) got the same tattoo with the exception of John Rhys-Davies whose stunt double got the tattoo instead.[28] He also keeps the One Ring given him by Peter Jackson in a box inside a box in his attic. Although he jokes in several interviews he is still afraid of it, he's mentioned it's merely because he does not want to lose it.

In May 2006, Autograph Collector Magazine published its list of 10 Best & 10 Worst Hollywood Signers, Wood was ranked #7 on the list of Best Signers.[29] Wood has, on occasion, been mistaken for Tobey Maguire and Daniel Radcliffe.[30][31]

He smokes clove cigarettes - a habit he picked up from his The Faculty co-star Josh Hartnett.[32]

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