This is Chapter 43 of 'A Journey With Frodo' and mainly covers San Diego ComiCon held on 19 July 2003. As with all cons, the main source of pics comes from fans who were there. I was never very good at pic-labelling back then so if anyone sees a pic belonging to them please let me know and I'll either give credit or remove it, whichever is preferred.
I loved the report by someone named Sharon who was at this event and who managed to give a brilliant account of what took place behind the scenes. I've no way to contact her so I hope she doesn't mind me quoting from her report. As she says, "I got to watch him just pal around with Sean and Dom, no cameras, no fans, just them. And that more than anything was such a joy to see. They all love each other so much." I loved her description of the playful tussle between Sean and Lij, "My eyeballs melted out of my head about then and my slash-loving heart just about combusted.", her reaction to seeing Elijah in the flesh for the first time, "He's so beautiful he's painful to look at, not that I was going to turn away at all!", and her account of Lij and Dom's hilarious 'escape'.
And Frodo looks into the mirror of Galadriel.
For anyone unfamiliar with my pet project, 'A Journey With Frodo' (a work in progress) is the story of Elijah Wood's experience in becoming Frodo, from back in 1998 when the LOTR movies were just a whisper up to the triumphant Oscars of Feb 2004. In reliving Elijah's journey, and mine, I am using everything I can lay my hands on - behind-the-scenes material from the various dvd's, magazine articles, books, internet sites, tv coverage, word-of-mouth info, etc. Previous chapters can be found here:
"A JOURNEY WITH FRODO"
Hope you enjoy
Back home after the emotional interlude in New Zealand, Elijah, hair newly-shorn, prepares to embark on the publicity tour for 'Return of the King'. First stop is San Diego:
19 July 2003 ~ San Diego ComiCon:
"This is the world's greatest convergence of geeks and I'm one of them!" (Elijah Wood ~People Magazine)
"At Comic-Con, a cluster of people means an item of interest. It could be a scantily clad vixen posing for photos, a particularly delectable giveaway or Dominic Monaghan and Elijah Wood playing an early version of EA Games' "Return Of The King."
Smack in the middle of Day Four, yards from the TORn booth the pair showed up to indulge in one of their personal passions - gaming. The crowd gathered as if the pair were a magnet and just moments into their demonstration, they were surrounded by a swarm of fan girls and boys who thankfully didn't try to do more than take photographs. Still, like an aggressive basketball team, there was a lot of boxing out, blocking off and not-so-subtle positioning. For a few moments at least, the pair were the most famous game players in the world
Security was on hand to spare the stars the to-be-expected crush of autograph requests and hand-shaking. All rumors about Wood being present for the New Line presentation later in the afternoon were obviously confirmed, creating more buzz for an event that didn't need any.
David Siverman, EA's marketing assistant was on hand to explain the game and coach the duo as they fought through part of the only playable level, one of 14 intended for the final playabler level.
According to Siverman, the pair from the show was really positive about the game and he speculated it must be a particularly cool experince to play a character that to most movie fans is you."
Actually, the above article only gives part of the story, as Elijah, followed by Dom, had actually staged his own 'Great Escape' to get where he was at that moment in time. The extracts accompanying the following pics come from the account of a lady named Sharon who was lucky enough, through certain circumstances, to find herself backstage with Elijah, Dom and Sean before they went on stage. In short, she was a friend of Leah, the lady who got costumed out as a hobbit lass and who appeared on stage during the presentation.
The Great Escape:
The first time Sharon set eyes on the 'Hobbits' they were in the middle of being interviewed:
"So we slip in and there's our trio standing about six feet away under a camera crew filming the interview. And my god these lads are beautiful in the flesh. Sean looked positively stunning, fit and handsome as all get-out in a white brimmed hat, T-shirt and baggy khaki shorts, Dom was a little scruffier in his good-natured charming way, T-shirt and jeans, and Elijah, oh lord help me, but he's beautiful, in tight jeans and a fitting white striped short sleeved shirt--all eyes and cropped hair and trim little line of facial fuzz. They all have their arms about each other and Kevin and the interview is wrapping up and Elijah is saying, "Hey, I want copies of these photos!" ...
"The crew begins to break up and Elijah looks over at Dom and gets this little minx grin and says "I'm going for it!" And to everyone's shock leaps out of the curtain and sprints down the convention concourse as fast as his little legs can carry him (which is damn fast) whooping with glee while three security guards all in black race after him followed by the entire line of screaming fans. Meanwhile, the New Line people are standing there in shock, mouths agape, mumbling "Where is he going?! Where is he going?!? Security!! Security!!" ...
"Leah and I were bent over with laughter, it was the funniest thing we'd ever seen. I guess, later we found out, that Elijah being the game player geek he is, was dying to get out on that floor and had decided to make a break for it despite New Line's assertion that doing so would create a security problem of Con-wide proportions. Which it evidently did, getting New Line folks into very hot water with the Con security people. Not that they could do anything about it. Elijah, essentially escaped. I heard later that he was mobbed of course although he managed to claw his way to the ROTK gaming booth to play a few minutes of the demo they had running there next to the main New Line booth and tower of Orthanc. Somehow Dom also got down there, but their adventure was short lived as hoards of fans were tearing down the walls to get at them. Very funny to me, but not so funny to New Line who were plainly freaked out. They later told Elijah he could go out on the floor if he agreed to wear a full masked costume like half the attendees, but I never heard if he did that or not."
Sharon's report continues as she waits backstage while Leah is on stage:
"Keeping squeeage carefully under control, and staying as quiet as I can, I casually make eye contact with the stagehands, finger Leah's glasses and pretend to be trying to look up through the stage set to see what's happening although I'm really gawking at Dom and how gorgeous he looks in that funny gray t-shirt and amazingly, they leave me alone.
Suddenly, I hear Elijah in the EXIT hall running up and calling "Dom! Dom! Where are you?" Dom waves to him and in three or four puppy dog leaps Elijah launches himself up the stage steps and plops next to Dom and begins to talk excitedly about all the 'cool stuff' that's going on at Comic-Con. In fact, everytime I saw Elijah, he was either bouncing or running. He really can't sit still. He reminded me of a Labrador puppy, all limbs and wagging tail. Well, no tail really, but happy as a puppy anyway. Just adorable. He wore an expression of just complete 'wow' and delight on his face like he'd never seen fans before in his life or something. It's still that new to him or he's still that humble, either way, he broke my heart he was so darn cute about it.
So now my squeeage levels are getting dangerously high, I've got Dom and Elijah at eye-level sitting so close I can hear their conversation. Elijah happens to have a voice that carries really really well. Moreso than Dom's so I could only hear one half of the conversation, but got the gist. Mostly consisting of Elijah's uncontainable exuberance at being at Comic-Con and the "coolness" of Dom's shoes. "Hey man, where'd you get those shoes?" Dom takes off a shoe and tosses it at Elijah's face, he laughs and tosses it back. "Sick, man, I don't want to smell them, I wanted to look at 'em!"
Okay, not the most excellent of conversations, but cute nevertheless. And lord save me his blue blue eyes are looking right in my direction because of how Elijah's sitting and I'm trying really really hard not to stare open-mouthed at how truly beautiful he is because who's this old gal with the wrong pass standing under the lighting rig staring at us? But although I did make eye contact a few times with him, he didn't seem to care. But yes, ladies I can tell you he is just as breathtaking in person as on film. Large parts of me were melting, but I was keeping a crusty exterior and about killing myself to maintain that "bored" look for the nervous stagehands still eyeing me. Now, I want to see what I can of the presentation, so I go back over to the side curtain and peek out. Knowing even the WETA guys couldn't get back in once they went out I decide I'm going to divide my time between watching the reverse screen of the presentation and popping my head back in to gawk some more at the lads who are giggling and hugging like kiddos--so cute! I watch the TT DVD trailer and kind of now see Leah up onstage having her feet done and stuff by Ben and Richard is having the weapons guy do a pouring demo or something. I'm chillin' having a great ol' time when I hear this, "Hey!" coming from the stage stairs. I figure it has nothing to do with me so I keep my eyes on the reverse screen, my hand just parting the heavy black curtain so I can peer through it. "Hey!" again, but now my heart stops because I realize that's Elijah Wood's voice and it's getting closer. I look to my left and I think I've completely lost my mind because all I see are these two HUGE blue eyes coming at me. At me! Directly at me. And I'm in fact, the very person being "hey'd" at. There's no one else standing at the side curtain but me.
Elijah's eyes get even bigger as he bounds up to me and puts his utterly devastatingly beautiful face right up to mine and whispers "Is it okay if I have a look out there?"
A simple enough question, and one that a simple person could answer, but I'm not that simple and Elijah Wood, the elf-like semi-human who owns my every fantasy, has put his nose about three inches from mine all eager eyes and bouncy exuberance and I realize he's waiting. He's not asking me to move or step aside, he's asking me, the person without the blue badge, if he can have 'permission' from me to peek out! I'm totally beyond squee now, I'm just on a whole new plain of squeeage. Thankfully, the silent kind.
"Uh, yeah," I say stupidly and part the curtain for him.
He bends over and ducks under my arm to have a good look. Figuring I've got nothing to lose at this point (afterall he came to me even though there's many places he could have peered through, and I'm now his personal curtain holder), he must trust me so I bend over him just a little protectively as if I want a peek, too, and I get a really really good look at his shoulders and backside before he turns his head and moves his face close to mine again because he knows he needs to be quiet and he doesn't want me to get upset with him for peering, and says as only Elijah Wood can: "That's ****ing amazing! I can't believe how many people are out there!"
I nod as if to say, yeah and they're all here for you, too. He smiles then at me (stop my heart), says 'thanks', straightens up from under my arm and bounds off to sit back next to Dom.
I watch him with Dom and I realize he's trying to get Dom to get up and go over to the curtain, but Dom is slow to rise because he, too doesn't want to make a scene (in retrospect I wonder if they got a reaming for the little cut and run to the Con floor earlier that morning and were a little leery of getting taken out tied up in sacks). I decided I'm cheeky beyond hope at this point, so I raise up my arm and beckon at him.
"Dom!" I call and he gets up and runs to me and ducks under my arm as Elijah did and has a look. He tucks the curtain around his face and looks this way and that before popping back in and turning to me.
"Whoa," he says to me and I nod. Then he runs back to the steps before he's busted.
Just a side note: Both Dom and Elijah are little guys. I stand about 5'6' and I think Elijah came up to my forehead just an inch or so shorter than me and all arms and legs and bounce. Dom was almost exactly the same size except I think slightly taller and a little huskier although Elijah for all his wiriness is quite finely shaped across the back and arms--not that I didn't drink him all in as he bent over in front of me or anything. Either way they both fit under my arm. Thank god for Lady's Secret!"
A little later and Dom is now on stage:
"So I'm trying to watch what I can of Dom's teasing and poking of Leah when I'm completely distracted by the unbelievable sight of Sean Astin easily bending Elijah over on the top steps in a "nuggy" hold and wrestling him helplessly to the floor with Elijah squealing in glee and giggling the whole time like a puppy during a healthy round of "rub my tummy." My eyeballs melted out of my head about then and my slash-loving heart just combusted. I think I realized I was about to weep with wonderfullness and bit my tongue really hard to keep it in check when I remembered, oh crap! Leah's gift! Leah's last words to me before she went on stage were, "Sharon, if you see Jim, please give him the gift for Sean. Please!"
Sean picks a breathless Elijah up off the floor and they elbow one another for a while before the stagehands intercede again. More directions, blah, blah. I take this as a sign to try and get to the gift and back in with it without getting thrown out because I don't have a blue pass!
I slip back behind the set and peer out. The WETA area we spent the day in is deserted. So I make a run for it, grab the gift and slip back in before the doors could close. Whew! Gift in hand, I make my way back to the side of the stairs again. Sean and Elijah are all tired from their tussle and are now sitting talking quietly together mid-stairs bringing them level to me again! Whoo!
Sean has his cue and the audience, still reeling from Dom's unexpected appearance is now raised to a new decibel of excitement. He gives a few words and then Elijah follows shortly afterwards and I think the entire mass audience simultaneously orgasmed at that point. I've never heard a communal shriek like that since Duran Duran's 1984 tour. Damn that boy is popular even if he doesn't quite realize it."
Andy Serkis: So guys, you can finally come clean and tell everybody what it's been like working with this weird, bald-headed, you know....
Elijah Wood: He smells!
Andy Serkis: Thank you.. tie-dyed suited man with a cat sick voice crawling around. What's it like acting with someone like that?
Elijah: "Me, I don't know. I've told you countless times that your performance on set as Gollum, regardless of the suit, made Gollum come to life for me so... It was actually really easy to work with. I mean it was a new thing - I think it was new for everybody - you, everybody on set - it was new to work with a character that was going to be completely CG and maybe deal with the fact that there was the set element, and then the motion capture later. And we were learning all these things as we went along. But in terms of the actual work for us, it was you on set that made it come alive for us."
Andy: "Having said that, these guys... in the hands of a less focused group and dedicated actors every time we did a shot we'd have to do it, me acting with them, and then they'd be left with the real challenge of miming where I'd been so you guys, honest to God..."
Elijah: We did have some miming to do didn't we! Which was particularly tricky for the fighting sequences. Fighting with nothing.
Sean: Andy ripped my wig off.
Andy: I did it on purpose.
Elijah: (laughing) He had to bring that up, didn't he!
Andy: "He'll never forget it."
Sean: "It really hurt."
Elijah: "He was really angry!"
Sean: "I wasn't angry, I was just in a lot of pain. I wasn't angry at Andy but it really hurt. It was glued on and fastened with these fastener things and Gollum's supposed to pull Sam back and Andy's kind of passionate."
Elijah: "He's like a man possessed when he's actually in Gollum mode!"
Sean: "Yeah, yeah! Kind of intense! So he grabs me and rips the wig right off my head!"
Elijah: (does sound effects of Gollum attacking Sam)
Sean: "Do the Ringwraiths!"
Elijah: "I don't know if I can do the Ringwraiths..." (does excellent impression of Ringwraiths scream). "That made me a little sweaty. You know Fran Walsh actually did the voice of the Ringwraiths. She screamed and did the Ringwraiths."
Sean: "Remember she screamed when we did this scene where we were supposed to be asleep, and then the Ringwraiths come... "
Sean: "It scared the shit out of me! You always try to recover quickly. 'I knew that was going to happen. I knew that was going to happen. I'm fine'."
Andy: "The other thing we should really tell them about is what you managed to get us all up to that horrible wet Sunday when we'd all had a very big night out the night before."
Sean: "By show of applause has anybody heard about my short film, 'The Long and Short of It'? Does everybody know that Dominic and I wrote it together? And Elijah was my first assistant director. And Andy started out as ...well..."
Andy: "Locations assistant!"
Elijah: "That's right and you moved up a ladder didn't you?"
Andy: "I moved up the line to Executive Producer!"
Sean: "He did a lot of work on it on the day. He was actually kind of better first A.D. than even Elijah. Elijah was more like the studio exec going 'Let's go. Let's go. Peter's coming'"
Elijah: "I kept you on track! If it hadn't been for me you wouldn't have shot Keith... it would have been a mess!"
Laura Abely: We have a little bit to show so we can show people what you're talking about. Roll the clip!
Excerpt from 'Making of The Long and the Short of It' from theatrical release DVD is shown featuring cast interviews and short excerpt from the film. Astin dances to fade-out music
Elijah: "Look at him go, huh!"
Laura Abely: That whole short film will be on the DVD coming out August 26th.
Sean: "It's going to be on New Line's DVD. New Line's releasing the theatrical version of Lord of the Rings in August and you can see the entire five minute short film plus a full eight minute 'Behind the Scenes/Making of'..."
Andy: "And Sideshow Weta are making the collectibles as well so you can buy them!"
Laura Abely: "In addition to that great short film that's on the DVD we also have another preview on the DVD. Maybe you guys are aware of it? There's a look at 'The Return of the King'!
Three minute preview is shown to audience:
Laura Abely: "Thanks to Richard Taylor and his team for coming here all the way from New Zealand. Thanks to Andy, Sean, Elijah, Dominic and all the volunteers."
Some further comments from Sharon in reply to questions about her report:
"You want to know if his eyes are that blue? Honey I saw them coming at me from 60 feet away. All I saw were EYES! YES they are that blue. And YES his skin is that pale and flawless. I think he's one of the few celebs who are actually MORE gorgeous in person than on screen. I just about combusted, he's so beautiful he's painful to look at, not that I was going to turn away at all!
And YES he's a total sweetheart because I got to watch him just pal around with Sean and Dom, no cameras, no fans, just them. And that more than anything was such a joy to see. They all love each other so much. He and Dom have a college-guy best buddy kind of interaction, whereas Sean is clearly the big older protective loving brother type. And Elijah, he just loves everything and everybody. Like I said. A puppy. Excited curious, polite as all heck and sincere, they're all so sincere.
I wanted to add about our little puppy lad, that now that I've met him in the flesh, I am 10 times more impressed with his protrayal of Frodo. Because bouncy Elijah is so not that quiet brooding character he produced for the screen. I've have no idea where all that stillness and gravity came from other than the simple answer of: TALENT."
Pics from photoshoot:
I'm not sure at which stage in proceedings this took place but I think they were probably on their way to the signing tables:
My journey continues:
I was still in a daze following the announcement of Elijah's forthcoming appearance at Collectormania - about to burst with excitement one minute, terrified to look at my computer every day in case I'd read that it had all been some kind of mistake. Every new snippet of information brought with it a new worry. For instance:
From theonering.net: "Sean Astin and Elijah Wood have now been added as official attendees on the Collectormania 4 home page, but they won’t be there on the Friday! Collectormania are concerned about the number of people planning to attend Collectormania 4 in October to see “the hobbits” – especially since they cannot appear on the Friday since they are doing New Line junkets that day."
It was later announced that as they couldn't appear on Friday and couldn't sign on the Saturday although they would attend a q&a on the Sat night, an extra day was added. In one way that was great news but also another worry as it was the busiest time at work and we weren't allowed to take holiday at that time. Hmmm.
In addition to all of this, of course, was the realisation that ROTK was looming. Magazine articles and interviews started to appear, there was endless speculation about which scenes would or wouldn't be in the movie. I had such mixed emotions at that time - in addition to the enjoyment and excitement was the awful knowledge that before long this would all be over. I really didn't want to think about that.
I don't recall the exact day I first saw the image below but it must have been around this time. I can't really describe the emotional impact the picture had on me. Could this really be that happy, carefree, innocent hobbit lad we saw at the start of FOTR - what had he done to deserve such a fate? And how could anyone in such a pitiful state still be so damned beautiful?!
Frodo's Journey - The Mirror of Galadriel:
Elijah: "I like how he's turned this into an ominous, almost dark, place. You're safe but you're not completely safe - it's slightly ambiguous."
Sean: "Well, it's physically safe but it's psychologically unsettling so you can't get comfortable somewhere in your soul."
What do they say about him?
I have not the heart to tell you. For me the grief is still too near.
“Often they heard nearby Elvish voices singing, and knew that they were making songs of lamentation for his fall, for they caught his name among the sweet sad words that they could not understand. ‘Mithrandir, Mithrandir’ sang the Elves, ‘O Pilgrim Grey!’ For so they loved to call him. But if Legolas was with the Company he would not interpret the songs for them, saying that he had not the skill, and that for him the grief was still too near, a matter for tears and not yet for song.
It was Frodo who first put something of his sorrow into halting words. He was seldom moved to make song or rhyme; even in Rivendell he had listened and had not sung himself, though his memory was stored with many things that others had made before him. But now as he sat beside the fountain in Lórien and heard about him the voices of the Elves, his thought took shape in a song that seemed fair to him; yet when he tried to repeat it to Sam only snatches remained, faded as a handful of withered leaves.” (The Fellowship of the Ring : The Mirror of Galadriel)
I bet they don't mention his fireworks. There should be a verse about them.
Dom: Close-up shot on the feet - that would be maybe two hours in feet instead of the normal hour and a half.
Billy: And touch-ups all day.
Elijah: Yep - which is always a pain in the ass! It was oftentimes that they'd call for close-ups at the last minute as well - like, late in the day, 'Oh, by the way!' Those poor girls!
Billy: When Elijah's sweaty feet had got to work!
Sean: Yes, important fact for people listening to the dvd commentary that Elijah has the sweatiest of all hobbit feet.
Elijah: It's true. The glue would come loose - by lunchtime, generally! Sometimes I had to have my feet reapplied at lunch.
Will you look into the mirror?
What will I see?
Even the wisest cannot tell ..
for the mirror shows many things.
Things that were. Things that are. And some things ...
... that have not yet come to pass.
I see you.
I know what it is you saw
Elijah: "Yes, I was definitely nervous this day. There is actually a horribly embarrassing back-story to the end of this. There was a moment where I was supposed to get kind of emotional and Pete wanted a tear to come out. And for the love of God I couldn't get a tear, you know, it was so near crying and nothing would come out and of course I'm embarrassed 'cos Cate Blanchette's in front of me being very patient and wonderful and waiting for me - (laughs) it was terrible! I felt awful!"
For it is also in my mind.
It is what will come to pass if you should fail.
The Fellowship is breaking. It is already begun.
He will try to take the Ring. You know of whom I speak.
One by one, it will destroy them all.
If you ask it of me ...
I will give you the One Ring.
You offer it to me freely.
I do not deny that my heart has greatly desired this.
In place of a Dark Lord you would have a queen!
Not dark but beautiful ...
and terrible as the dawn!
Treacherous as the sea!
Stronger than the foundations of the earth!
All shall love me and despair!
I passed the test!
“She stood before Frodo seeming now tall beyond measurement, and beautiful beyond enduring, terrible and worshipful. Then she let her hand fall, and the light faded, and suddenly she laughed again, and lo! She was shrunken: a slender elf-woman, clad in simple white, whose gentle voice was soft and sad. ‘I pass the test’, she said. I will diminish, and go into the West, and remain Galadriel”. (The Mirror of Galadriel : The Fellowship of the Ring)
I cannot do this alone.
You are a Ring-bearer, Frodo. To bear a Ring of Power is to be alone.
Elijah: "That's right - they cut out the bit actually showing her ring [from the theatrical version], that she's a Ring-bearer as well which is something I really loved about this scene - that she too is alone, you know what I mean? That connection which we share, we're both Ring-bearers, which I love. Which I think helps give him confidence to move on, that this powerful elf is also in the same situation to a certain degree."
And I am its keeper.
This task was appointed to you ...
And if you do not find a way, no one will.
Then I know what I must do. It's just ...
... I'm afraid to do it.
Even the smallest person can change the course of the future.
"I wanted to add about our little puppy lad, that now that I've met him in the flesh, I am 10 times more impressed with his protrayal of Frodo. Because bouncy Elijah is so not that quiet brooding character he produced for the screen. I've have no idea where all that stillness and gravity came from other than the simple answer of: TALENT."
TO BE CONTINUED
LINK TO ALL CHAPTERS: "A JOURNEY WITH FRODO"
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