Lord Of The Rings star Elijah Wood has a two-inch tattoo. "It means nine in Elvish," he says. "It stands for the nine members of the fellowship. A week before the film was finished we decided to go to a tattoo parlour and set the experience permanently on our skin. All the members got this tattoo, even Ian McKellen."
With all three episodes of the trilogy gaining good reviews, a tattoo is the least of the changes in Elijah's life he was a youthful 18 when he won the role and is now an international star. The actor says he's committed to keeping his feet on the ground, however. "If you're carefree and relaxed about your life, that will kill a lot of attention," he explains. Elijah Jordan Wood was born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on January 28, 1981.
By the time he had reached the age of seven, his mother was entering him in modelling competitions to find an outlet for his intense energy. At one event in LA, they met a stranger who suggested Elijah give acting a go. A week later the entire Wood family upped sticks and relocated to Hollywood where, within the year, Elijah made his acting debut: in a video for Paula Abdul's Forever Your Girl.
Elijah was soon picking up bit parts in movies such as the 1989 blockbuster Back To The Future II and the 1990 thriller Internal Affairs. Before long, he graduated to meatier roles alongside big-name stars, such as in 1992's Forever Young where he played opposite Mel Gibson. Aged 11, he co-starred with Macaulay Culkin in 1993's The Good Son, and critics hailed Elijah's impressively nuanced performance as marking the emergence of a new child star.
By the late-Nineties, Elijah was edging away from the romantic comedies inundating cinemas in search of more demanding roles. The breakthrough came in 1997 with his portrayal of a troubled teen coming of age in the early-Seventies in The Ice Storm, alongside Sigourney Weaver and Kevin Kline. A year later, he landed a starring role in the surprise blockbuster Deep Impact.
In retrospect, Elijah seemed destined to play a hobbit. His diminutive size helps, of course; he's barely 5ft 5in tall. But as early as 1994, Elijah was declaring that the The Hobbit was his favourite book, and when he discovered Lord Of The Rings was in production, the native Iowan called in a dialogue coach to hone his English accent, and auditioned. In July 1999, director Peter Jackson offered him the part. "I was overwhelmed, just ecstatic," Elijah admits. "I couldn't really speak. My sister was running through the house screaming. It was a great day."
With an impressive portfolio of films under his belt, the youthful actor remains unfazed by his rise to fame. "I won't change and my perspective won't change," he says. "I want to continue my life the way I live it, and I'm not going to let anything stop me from doing that. It isn't all about acting. There's a lot more to life than Hollywood."
Elijah has since had roles in several films and TV shows, and also found love with Danish film producer Mette-Marie Kongsved, with whom he has two children, a son and a daughter.