All you need is a couple of gasbags hijacking the mic with “This is more of an observation than a question” or using their moment in the spotlight to elevator pitch the panel their spec script to torpedo the whole thing. Or even worse, you end up with a disgruntled celebrity onstage who’s eager to run out the clock and cash their check.
But sometimes the gods flip that coin and it lands on the good side: The celeb is engaging and enthusiastic, the crowd asks questions that are actually clever, and a good time is had by all. Going into the jam-packed ballroom at the Phoenix Convention Center on Friday, May 24, to see Elijah Wood’s Q&A at Phoenix Fan Fusion 2019, we held our breath and waited to see if the gods would be merciful or cruel.
Ambling cheerfully onstage in some kind of urban farmer’s outfit that made him look like a hipster hobbit named Kombucha Baggins, Wood played the part of a good sport to a T. At no point during the hour-long Q&A did he lose his patience, rudely dismiss a question, or treat his audience with anything less than respect and appreciation.
You couldn’t ask for a better subject for this sort of event. But it takes two to tango, and so it goes with Q&As. Would the audience rise to his level, or were we about to be subjected to an hour’s worth of people asking Wood if either Frodo or Sam were the bottom in that relationship?
Luckily, the audience members were pretty on their game too. Nobody hogged the mic for too long, and we didn’t have to hear anybody pitch their 2Grey 2Havens Lord of the Rings sequel script to Wood. Here are 10 things we learned during Wood’s Q&A session at Fan Fusion.
1. He's co-producing a Lovecraft film starring Nicolas Cage.
Wood was at his most effusive when discussing his love for horror movies. Whether he was talking about watching Nightmare on Elm Street 3 with his older brother when he was 8 or expressing his admiration for the work of horror auteur Val Lewton, Wood’s passion for the scary stuff shone through. The crowd cheered when he said that his production company Spectrevision was behind last year’s deliriously batshit cult flick Mandy and that its next project with Cage – an adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s The Colour Out of Space – is currently in post-production. Cage versus gibbering eldritch horrors from beyond space and time? JUST HOOK IT TO OUR VEINS.
2. Fartships and hardships during Fellowship.
As you could imagine, a lot of the questions revolved around the Tolkien movies. When asked what his funniest experience on set was, Wood said it was probably when he rolled down a hill during the very first day of filming and landed so hard it knocked a fart out of him. He also talked about the grueling 16-hour shooting schedules the cast went through in New Zealand, and that the most taxing day of shooting for him was for a scene that got cut from The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.
The original ending of the first LOTR film had Frodo, not Sam, falling into the river as they get on the boat. Wood spent 40 minutes immersed in freezing cold mountain runoff water. He said he turned a shade of blue from being in there that long, and it took two hours to get his body back to a normal temperature.
3. People think Elijah Wood and Daniel Radcliffe look alike.
Wood, like most right-thinking people, seemed bemused and baffled by one question’s implication that he and the Harry Potter star were basically doppelgangers. “Yes, we’ve been in the same room together. Maybe we’ll do a buddy cop movie someday,” he said with a wry grin.
While the Hobbit fans were out in full force, quite a few folks in the attendance were vocal about their love for Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency. While answering questions about the canceled BBC America television show, Wood admitted that he wished it had continued. He also shared a few tidbits about what season three would have been like: that showrunner Max Landis planned to introduce “a character that had always been there but you never knew was there;” that the show’s genre and location would shift to a more urban setting like Atlanta; and that season three would have been a more action-focused program.
5. People are out here reppin’ HARD for Spyro the Dragon.
The biggest surprise of the Q&A: A LOT of people had questions about Wood’s brief voiceover work for one of the Spyro the Dragon video games. What made the fixation on Spyro even funnier is that Wood openly admits to barely remembering anything about it, but was still game to answer questions about it.
6. He would probably turn into Gollum in the real world.
When asked what he’d do if he had the One Ring in real life, Wood said that invisibility could come in handy. He even mused that it could be useful for toppling corrupt government administrations and politicians like President Donald Trump. But Wood also admitted that, just like Boromir, he would probably fall prey to the ring’s dark allure. “I don’t think our humanness would handle it very well,” he said. “I don’t know if I have enough Hobbit in me to resist temptation.”
Anyone expecting this Q&A to be family-friendly was quickly disappointed when Wood started dropping more fucks on the mic than a Tarantino script. The F-Bomb floodgates opened when one audience member asked Wood which scenes in the LOTR films he would say “fuck” in (since the films are PG-13, they’re technically allowed one usage of "fuck" per film). Wood said he’d probably drop an “oh, fuck” when the Balrog snatches up Gandalf in Fellowship, or that he’d be quick to snap, “Don’t you fucking take that ring!” when he starts to get Ring Fever in the other films in the series.
8. Who would be in his "Fellowship of Elijah Wood"?
One inquisitive audience member asked Wood to assemble a fellowship of nine featuring characters that he’s played over the course of his lengthy career. In case you’re wondering, here’s the roster of the "Fellowship of Elijahs" that he'd pick, which included a few surprises:
Wirt (Over the Garden Wall)
Jace Rucklin (Star Wars Resistance)
Kevin (Sin City)
Frodo (um, take a wild guess)
Todd (Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency)
Mumble (Happy Feet)
The Guy (Spy Kids 3-D)
Tony (I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore)
9. He started DJing because of Lord of the Rings.
Asked about his interest in DJing, Wood said he got into while filming in New Zealand. He and the other actors would handle at local bars in Wellington after hours, and they sometimes were allowed to spin their own CDs. Wood said he’d drag in his “three or four Case Logics” full of CDs to the bar and spin into the wee hours.
10. Frodo Baggins: top or bottom?
Thank the gods: Nobody dared to ask this question.
Phoenix Fan Fusion 2019. Now through Sunday, May 26, at the Phoenix Convention Center, 100 North Third Street; phoenixfanfusion.com. Daily admission is $40-$50 and a full event pass is $95 via the event website.