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Elijah Wood Leaves Frodo Behind with "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind"


Elijah Wood Eternal Sunshine Spotless

Elijah Wood in "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," directed by Michel Gondry.

Focus Features
Elijah Wood sheds his hobbit attire for a supporting role in "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," directed by Michel Gondry and written by Charlie Kaufman ("Adaptation").

As Patrick, Wood spends most of his onscreen time in the company of Mark Ruffalo. Though director Michel Gondry had been looking for a different type of actor to take on the 'Patrick' role, the casting of Wood worked out perfectly as he and Ruffalo wound up having an unexpected big/little brother sort of chemistry. "They are just great to watch. The main storyline can get very emotional and intense, while these two guys are having a really good time," explains Gondry.


How’d you get involved in this movie?
To be a part of something like “Lord of the Rings,” which is such a once in a lifetime kind of opportunity, was truly amazing and life-enrichening and so many different things. But it sort of reaffirms my philosophy, [and] makes it even stronger, that I want to continue to do things that are different from the movies that I did last. And that’s even more intense after doing something like that, which is so in the public consciousness for so long that you’re this one thing. So when this came along, it was the perfect opportunity to do something completely different, and to indulge my own interest in Charlie Kaufman and Michel Gondry.

It was funny, I was driving home one night and I got a call from my agent and she said, “Listen, I’ve got a script here, uh, that Charlie Kaufman wrote. And Michel Gondry…” She said, “Charlie Kaufman,” and I’m like, “Aaaah—What?” And then I said, “Well, who’s directing it?” And she said, “Ah, Michel…Gondry.” [In a really high pitched voice] “Whaaat??” You know, because I’m a huge, huge Michel Gondry fan. I’ve watched his videos for years. The prospect of being able to work on a Kaufman film with him directing was just too good to be true. I got home, had the script, read the script, loved it. Loved its sense of romance and its sort of emotional core, which I’d not really felt in other Kaufman films. Not that there isn’t an emotional attachment to the experiences that his characters generally go through - I think there is - but not in this romantic sense, which I really enjoyed.

I loved the character of Patrick, who is, you know, on the one side incredibly creepy and manipulative, but also at the same time kind of endearing and sweet and sad. Pathetic in the sense that he doesn’t really have any confidence and doesn’t know how to be cool, and doesn’t know how to get the girl. Ultimately I loved it, and I got to meet with Michel while I was in New York doing the junket for “The Two Towers.” I went to his office and I think I asked him more questions about his videos than I did about “Eternal Sunshine.” Then I heard that he really liked me, and I got the role based on that meeting.

This film is so unique romantically, but is there something else that has really inspired you, that has that kind of emotional romantic core of a relationship movie?
I can’t think of anything that is nearly as offbeat as this. But I mean love romantic comedies. I love romantic movies. I’m kind of a sucker for them and sort of end up crying at the end of them all - like a child (laughing).

Is there something you’d like to erase from the public consciousness or your own?
In terms of the public consciousness, I don’t know. The question that comes up a lot is if you had the chance to erase your memory of something specific, what would you erase? And my answer has always been, I wouldn’t erase anything personally. And in some ways, I almost wouldn’t want to erase anything from the public consciousness either for the same reason, which is that our bad memories and our bad experiences are what make us who we are and what make us grow and allow us to learn, if we choose to see the lessons in those experiences.

Is that true of even really bad reality TV? Is everything really worth remembering?
(Laughing) Now when it comes to that, maybe not. But then in the consciousness of the public and in terms of what we’re all are exposed [to], that mediocrity and those elements that we hate and despise sort of allow us to appreciate what’s really great, and it makes it even greater. There has to be that element of the life experience. But, at the same time, I would love to do away with reality television (laughing). I can’t believe that that fad has not ended yet. It’s weird.

PAGE 2: Elijah Wood on Charlie Kaufman's Script and Returning to Smaller Projects

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