(Los Angeles, July 7, 1999) - Elijah Wood has been cast in the lead role of New Line Cinema's live action, special effects-packed trilogy of films based on J.R.R. Tolkien's internationally renowned fantasy novel The Lord of the Rings, it was jointly announced today by director Peter Jackson, Michael De Luca, President and Chief Operating Officer of New Line Productions, and Mark Ordesky, President of Fine Line Features.
In joining the cast, Wood has committed to a project of unparalleled size and scope. Production on the highly anticipated serial is expected to begin by early October and principal photography will last more than a year, according to Jackson, who also serves as co-writer and co-producer of the fabled franchise.
The three Lord of the Rings films, beginning with The Fellowship of the Rings, will be produced consecutively and shot on location in New Zealand. Jackson, Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens and Stephen Sinclair have completed their script for Part One: The Fellowship of the Rings and additional casting is currently underway.
"In casting this critical role, we knew we had to find an actor of great depth of range to take an audience on a journey through three movies," Jackson said. "While we looked at many good actors, it was clear from the moment that we met Elijah that we had found Frodo Baggins. He has an enormous natural ability to draw an audience into a story and the dramatic depth to hold them there."
Set in a mythic pre-history, The Lord of the Rings tells the saga of a desperate battle against encroaching evil - a perilous quest to save humanity which falls upon the shoulders of young Frodo Baggins (Woods), who has inherited a seemingly innocent magic ring from his elderly cousin Bilbo.
Frodo soon learns that the ring's original maker, the Dark Lord Sauron, is desperately seeking it - for it is a ring of great evil which will enable Sauron to enslave the people of this land known as Middle Earth. A hurriedly assembled fellowship of wizard, elf, dwarf and men accompany Frodo and his friends on a harrowing mission across Middle Earth in an attempt to destroy the ring by casting it into the volcanic fires in the Crack of Doom. Against them rages the monstrous power of Sauron, whose sinister emissaries ruthlessly pursue Frodo and his companions, while the omnipotent power of the ring attempts to corrupt the fellowship from within.
Currently at work on Pontus Lowenhielm and Patrik Von Krusenstjerna's Shiny New Enemies, with Salma Hayek and Jeff Goldblum, Wood will next be seen in James Toback's Black and White, a largely improvised look at the underground hip hop culture through the eyes of a film documentary crew. He also lends his voice as 'Tom Thumb' in the upcoming animated feature The Adventures of Tom Thumb and Thumbelina.
Wood has been seen recently in The Faculty, Deep Impact, and The Ice Storm. His film credits also include Flipper, The War, North, The Good Son, Huck Finn, Forever Young, Paradise, Radio Flyer, Avalon, and Internal Affairs.
On television, Wood was most recently seen on ABC in Tony Bill's "Oliver Twist" as the 'Artful Dodger.' Other television credits include the NBC telefilm "Dayo," and the CBS movie "Child in the Night." Wood was named 1994's Young Star of the Year by NATO/ShowEast following his performance in The War.
New Line picked-up the rights to Lord of the Rings from Miramax Films last August. Miramax co-chairmen Bob and Harvey Weinstein serve as executive producers of the films along with Saul Zaentz. New Line's Senior Vice President of Business Affairs Suzanne Rosencrans negotiated the deal on behalf of the studio. Representing Wood is the William Morris Agency and lawyer Craig Emanuel of Loeb & Loeb.
Founded in 1967, New Line Cinema is the entertainment industry's leading independent producer and distributor of theatrical motion pictures. New Line licenses its films to ancillary markets including cable and broadcast television as well as to international venues. The company, which is a subsidiary of Time Warner Inc., operates several divisions including in-house theatrical distribution, marketing, home video, television, acquisitions, production, licensing and merchandising units.