Born Elijah Jordan Wood, the middle of three creative children who were raised as Catholics and named after Biblical figures. His older brother, Zachariah, born in 1974, is now a video game producer and his younger sister, Hannah, born in 1983, is now a poet and actress.
Wood started singing in the chorus at elementary school, took piano lessons and performed in school theatrical productions. At age seven his mother, Debbie, enrolled him at modelling school and he began appearing in national commercials and small television parts.
In 1989, his parents sold their delicatessen and the family – minus father, Warren, who elected to remain in Iowa - moved to Los Angeles in order for Wood to pursue a career in acting. His lucky break came swiftly, when he landed a small role in Paula Abdul’s video for her debut album, ‘Forever Your Girl’ (1989), directed by David Fincher. It certainly got him noticed and shortly after that, he was offered a cameo role as a videogame boy, in ‘Back to the Future Part II’ (1989), making his feature film debut at age eight. His leading role debut followed the next year with Barry Levinson’s ‘Avalon’ (1990), in which he was cast as Michael Kaye, with Aidan Quinn who played his father. The critically acclaimed film received four Academy Award nominations. That same year, Wood made his television debut as Luke in ‘Child in the Night’ (1990).
With all these achievements before his tenth birthday, Wood began to play ever more demanding roles, both in television and feature films. These included co-starring with Don Johnson and Melanie Griffiths in ‘Paradise’ (1991); with Joseph Mazzello in ‘Radio Flyer’ (1992); with Mel Gibson and Jamie Lee Curtis in ‘Forever Young’ (1992), also singing ‘You Are My Sunshine’ for the film’s soundtrack; and with Macaulay Culkin in ‘The Good Son’ (1993).
His critically acclaimed performance with Kevin Costner in ‘The War’ (1994) gained him a Young Star Award nomination. Wood then starred as Huckleberry Finn in ‘The Adventures of Huck Finn’ (1993), before playing the title role in Rob Reiner’s comedy ‘North’ (1994), to much praise. He even mastered a Cockney accent for the part of the Artful Dodger in Disney’s ‘Oliver Twist’ (1997) on ABC television.
In 1996, when Wood was 15, his parents decided to put an end to their struggling marriage and were divorced later that year. Interestingly, it was at this time that Wood was noted for his performance as a troubled teenager, with Sigourney Weaver and Jamey Sheridan in Ang Lee’s ‘The Ice Storm’ (1997). He then co-starred in the blockbuster ‘Deep Impact’ (1998) as well as in sci-fi horror ‘The Faculty’ (1998). Whilst these roles did not allow Wood much scope for character development, they added further kudos to his growing versatility as an actor.
Three films followed, which never made it into wide release: ‘Black and White’ (1999), ‘The Bumblebee Flies Anyway’ (1999) and ‘Chain of Fools’ (2000). Then the role appeared for which Wood is best known and which made him a star. It was that of the furry-footed hobbit, Frodo Baggins, in Peter Jackson’s blockbuster film trilogy version of J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic ‘The Lord of the Rings’.
Over the next three years, between the filming of ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring’ (2001) and ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers’ (2002), Wood appeared on several videos and played Sean Sullivan in crime drama ‘Ash Wednesday’ (2002). Before the last in the trilogy, ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King’ (2003), he managed to squeeze in a small role as 'The Guy' in ‘Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over’ (2003) and host a 2003 episode of ‘Saturday Night Live’. Wood was also the First Assistant Director on Sean Aston’s ‘The Long and Short of It’ (2003), in which Peter Jackson played a bus driver.
Once ‘The Lord of the Rings’ trilogy was complete, Wood played opposite Kirsten Dunst, Mark Ruffolo and Kate Winslet in the wonderful and slightly off-beat ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’ (2004). In ‘Sin City’ (2005) he starred as a cannibalistic serial killer, with Mickey Rourke, in this visually spectacular but chilling adaptation of Frank Miller’s crime noir comic book series. Wood was a journalist-turned-thug in ‘Green Street Hooligans’ (2005), a film about violent gangs in the world of English football, before starring in actor Live Schreiber’s directing debut, ‘Everything is Illuminated’ (2005), filmed in Prague.
After living for many years in Los Angeles, Wood shared an apartment with his sister Hannah in New York for a while, starting in 2003, but found he was spending very little time there, due to his filming commitments. In 2005, he bought a house in Venice Beach, California and started his own record label, Simian Records. On 19 September 2006, Wood announced the label had signed their first band, indie rock group, ‘The Apples in Stereo’. Another of Wood’s favourite bands, ‘Heloise and the Savoir Faire’, has since been signed to Simian.
Wood had a small part as a young American tourist in ‘Paris, je t’aime’ (2006) before being cast in Emilio Estevez’s directorial debut, ‘Bobby’ (2006), telling the story of the night prior to Senator Robert F. Kennedy’s assassination. Wood provided the voice of Mumble, a vocally challenged, tap dancing penguin, in the hugely successful animated adventure, ‘Happy Feet’ (2006). On this film, he worked alongside the likes of Nicole Kidman, Hugo Weaving, Hugh Jackman and Robin Williams. He was the voice of Spyro in the videogame ‘The Legend of Spyro: A New Beginning’ (2006).
In 2007, Wood appeared in ‘Day Zero’, a drama about the draft, in which he portrayed the character of Aaron Feller, a young man who marries in order to avoid being drafted for war. The film had its debut at the 2007 Tribeca Film Festival. The next year saw him star alongside John Hurt in the thriller film ‘The Oxford Murders’, in which he played a graduate student. This was followed by a voice role in producer Tim Burton's animated feature film ‘9’. The science fantasy film was based on director Shane Acker's Academy Award-nominated 2005 short film of the same name.
Teaming up with Katie Holmes, Anna Paquin and Josh Duhamel, Wood starred in the 2010 romantic comedy ‘The Romantics’, a movie about seven college friends who reunite six years later for a wedding. He went on to reprise his voice role of Mumble in the computer-animated film 'Happy Feet 2' (2011), which features Robin Williams, Matt Damon, Hank Azaria and Brad Pitt. his latest films include the thriller 'Grand Piano' (2013) and the horror comedy 'Cooties' (2014). He is also starring in the main role in the comedy TV series 'Wilfred'.
Over the years, Wood has appeared in a number of single episodes of television shows and sitcoms, including ‘Frasier’ (1994), ‘Homicide: Life on the Street’ (1996), ‘King of the Hill’ (2004), ‘The Osbournes’ (2004), ‘American Dad!’ (2006) and ‘Robot Chicken’ (2006). He appeared in his second Paula Abdul video, ‘Video Hits: Paula Abdul’ (2005). On 19 November 2006 he hosted the Discovery Kids Channel special ‘Saving a Species: The Great Penguin Rescue’. On 4 January 2007, Wood joined Alan Rosenberg, President of the Screen Actors Guild, to announce the nominees for the 13th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards.
An intensely private person, Wood prefers to keep his romantic relationships out of the media spotlight. He dated German actress Franka Potente in 2002 and was rumoured to have dated Bijou Phillips, his co-star from ‘Black and White’ (1999), but in September 2005 he confirmed this as untrue. His dated Pamela Racine, a backup dancer for ‘Gogol Bordello’, a gypsy punk band from New York City. The couple met in 2004, on the set of ‘Everything Is Illuminated’ (2005), and began their relationship a while later, but split up in 2010.
Wood’s generosity of spirit is appreciated by all who know him and is evident in the charity work he does. His focus is on helping children and he supports Keep A Child Alive and YouthAIDS/ALDO. His talent, experience and the careful selection of a variety of roles, has enabled Wood to avoid typecasting. He has been nominated for innumerable awards and won several others. With a career spanning nearly two decades, this talented actor, singer, musician and music director is only in his mid-thirties. His mix of affability and dedication to his career will certainly continue to ensure a productive work life ahead and give us much to anticipate from him in the future.