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Elijah Wood: Looking beyond Frodo

With 'Rings' over, actor wants to take chances

Elijah Wood

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LOS ANGELES, California (Reuters) -- There is one Hollywood career Elijah Wood, star of "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King," does not want to emulate -- Mark Hamill's.

Wood, 22, is not slighting Luke Skywalker of 1977's "Star Wars." Rather, he knows that playing the key character in a series of hits like the "Rings, "Star Wars" or James Bond films often leaves fans unable to distinguish between the movie role and the actor.

With Hamill, future parts became sparse and the actor's star fell fast after the "Star Wars" series, although he has been doing animation and video games, and had numerous TV roles.

"There are a lot of factors why Mark Hamill got stuck in the Luke Skywalker zone, partially because of how massive that whole thing became and there hadn't quite been anything like it. Also because nobody knew who he was before. They were only able to associate him with that role," Wood told Reuters.

Wood, who plays ring-bearer hobbit Frodo in the film trilogy based on the J.R.R. Tolkien novels about an epic struggle for control of Middle-earth, offered that Hamill's co-star Carrie Fisher, Princess Leia, fared well, and Harrison Ford, Han Solo, had a blockbuster career.

Wood said parts in a variety of movies like the upcoming "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, which he called "slightly experimental," should help him avoid Hamill's fate.

The film was co-written by "Being John Malkovich" screenwriter Charlie Kaufman and stars Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet. Wood has a "small role" playing a technician for a company that erases people's memory.

"That's the main thing, continue to work and be perceived in a different light with different characters," he said.

Wood as Frodo in "Rings."

Wood said he respects the way Johnny Depp developed his career. Depp began as a teen idol of TV show "21 Jump Street" but transcended that to become a major movie star known for roles in movies that push creative bounds like "Edward Scissorhands" or "Ed Wood."

"He does interesting work constantly and only seems to be interested in things because he's passionate about the role and the project, no matter how large or small it may be ... that's how I've always thought of myself," Wood said. "

Copyright 2003 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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