Elijah Wood opens up about ‘No Man of God’, Smashing Pumpkins, and serial killers


Elijah Wood is passionate about storytelling.

His latest film is No man of god, which tells the true and intensely intimate story of serial killer Ted Bundy (Luke Kirby) ‘s final days in prison and the unlikely friendship that formed between him and young FBI analyst Bill Hagmaier (Wood). The release premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival earlier this year and will premiere in theaters and on-demand platforms on Friday, August 27. In addition to playing the lead role, Wood is also producing the film.

“I would be amazed if I produced a movie,” Woods said. Reverse, speculating on how her youngster would react to her new project. “Second, I think I would just be amazed to be in a Ted Bundy movie. I would kind of be fascinated by that.

The the Lord of the Rings Alumni have made some intriguing career decisions since they brought Frodo Baggins to life on the big screen nearly two decades ago. His passion for storytelling has led him to play interesting characters over the years – from Ryan in the original FX series Wilfred to Frank Zito in the 2012 remake of the horror classic Maniacal – and co-founder of the independent production company SpectreVision (the studio behind the cult hits Mandy, Daniel is not real, and more).

To promote the exit of No man of god, Wood spoke with Reverse about all the things that make him vibrate – from his first memory of the internet (shout at Palace cat) to early career successes, his enduring fascination with serial killers, and his undying love for Smashing Pumpkins and Radiohead.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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What kind of child were you?

I had a lot of energy as a kid, which I think partly explains why my mom thought it would be fun for me to do commercials when I was five. I was, I guess, precocious.

You know, I worked in an industry with a lot of adults. So at the same time I also had to be responsible, go to work and know my lines and my work among adults. But yes, just a lot of energy; I was always climbing on things. My mother called me ape because I was always climbing.

Who was your favorite band at 15?

Oh, it’s easy. Crush pumpkins. It was my group for sure. It was the first group that I was really obsessed with and I got all the singles and singles imported with the extra B sides. I was really obsessed with the whole Smashing Pumpkins.

What clothes did you wear too often in high school?

I mainly homeschooled until high school because I traveled so much. My education was actually at a correspondence school based in Ohio, but I never attended actual classes. They were, like, virtual, but at the start of it.

What was the only item of clothing I wore all the time? I would probably say there was this brown beanie that was, I think, cotton. And I wore it a lot. Embarrassing. I wouldn’t wear this today. But it was an important thing for me when I was in my early teens.

What is your first memory of the Internet?

AOL. And you know something else that’s just a funny memory? It’s not my first, but it’s in its infancy on the internet. There was a thing called Palace Chat. Do you remember that? It was the early days of a kind of 3D environment that wasn’t actually 3D. It was like photographs as backgrounds, then you would see other users’ avatars on the screen. So you can approach – I mean click – to a person and chat with them. You can create an avatar that looks what you want it to look like.

You can search pictures of it. It was quite funny. I mean, it’s probably been used for all kinds of bad things. And at the time, probably tons of adult conversations that kids probably shouldn’t participate in. But I remember it well.

I remember enjoying looking at photos and uploading a photo and it would take years to show on your screen because you are only connected to a 36k modem. I’m so grateful that we came from that time that we know where it all started. You know, I don’t necessarily envy people who are born now. Because they have no context and don’t know where everything is coming from. I love having that perspective.

Rock Jacobs, Elijah Wood, Talon Reid and Jason Corle attend the No man of god Cast Dinner on June 11, 2021 in New York City.Thomas Concordia / Getty Images Entertainment / Getty Images

What’s the truth about love you believed when you were 15?

I was truly a hopeless romantic. And I still am. I think I hold onto a lot of those same ideals.

I was also, at the same time, a big fan of music. Romantic music and songs and feeling the feelings was an important thing in adolescence. And so I connected that with my first girlfriend when I was 15. It was such a puppy love, man. It was just pure, teenage-like and happy. I don’t think the essence of it ever really left me, which I guess is a good thing. I never got bored.

What do you consider your first big break from work and why?

The first role I had in a movie of any substance was in a movie called Avalon. I was eight years old. I love this movie too. This is one of my favorites from Barry Levinson. I had already been in a bunch of commercials. And then I had two small roles in movies before that. Corn Avalon was the first movie in which I had a role that felt real to me. It wasn’t just a few days on something; my mom and I were in Baltimore locally. It kind of changed the game.

What do you consider your first professional failure?

Wow. Great question. Maybe with hindsight it’s more obvious. I was going to say Pinball, corn Pinball, in a way, was not a failure. People have seen this movie.

There is a movie from the early 2000s. It was called Chain of fools. I had a great time doing it. It was originally called New shiny enemies and it was run by this great Swedish duo which was known as the company called Tractor. They had made clips. The cast is crazy. I mean, it’s uh, Jeff Goldblum is in it. Salma Hayek, Kevin Corrigan, Tom Wilkinson, David Hyde Pierce, Steve Zahn, Michael Rappaport … We shot in Vancouver and we had a really amazing time doing it. (The first time I took acid in my life was on the streets of Vancouver.)

But when this movie came along, it didn’t really have an impact. And that was just one of those funny things. The aspirations for it, the fun of doing it, the enthusiasm we all had for the script (which was so good) just didn’t work.

It just shows that you are not in control of the process. It wasn’t the director’s fault. It just happened. I look back on this without any kind of regret because the experience of doing it was so much fun. And the team I got to play with was so great.

What is your unmissable prediction for the year 2030 and why?

I would like to say the singularity, although I do not know if we are still there. To get closer. I’ll just say Radiohead will have released another album by then.

What do you think your 15 year old self would say about your latest project?

Oh, I think he would be really fascinated. I think my 15 year old self certainly knew who Ted Bundy was. When I grew up a bit, I took a more active fascination with serial killers. I actually had a Time-Life book when I was 16 or 17 called Serial killers it was like a little mini encyclopedia.

I would be a little surprised. Well I guess I would be amazed if I produced a movie. Second, I think I would just be amazed to be in a Ted Bundy movie. I’d kind of be fascinated by that.

HAZARDOUS PHASE is a Reverse series with interesting people talking about the most relevant period of their life. The above interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.


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