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Elijah Wood talks role in 'The Last Witch Hunter,' co-star Vin Diesel

Elijah Wood attends the

Elijah Wood attends the "Cooties" and "The Last Witch Hunter" press line on the first day of Comic-Con International in San Diego on Thursday, July 9, 2015. Credit: AP

Elijah Wood, everyone's favorite hobbit from "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy, has returned to the fantasy genre, but this time his costume doesn't require pointy ears or hairy feet -- it's his neck, with the priest's collar, that catches your eye.

Wood plays Dolan 37, a cleric from a mysterious order in "The Last Witch Hunter," a new action fantasy film starring Vin Diesel, out Oct. 23. Diesel, shifting gears from his "Fast and Furious" franchise, plays an immortal chap who keeps witches in check, assisted by a series of holy "Dolans" who create new identities for him and, in general, try to keep up.

Wood, when not bringing to life J.R.R. Tolkien's Frodo, is known for smart, tender performances in films as varied as the animated "Happy Feet" and indies like "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind." He'll be seen next year with Nicolas Cage as crooked cops in the crime drama "The Trust." He spoke with Newsday contributor Joseph V. Amodio.

I want to ask you about the twist at the end of this film. But, alas, we can't really talk about that.

No, we can't. (He chuckles.)

But we can talk about Vin Diesel. Did he seem imposing when you first met?

Not at all. His size is one thing, but in terms of his vibe, he's extremely friendly and warm. I think he's kind of a softy at heart. What's interesting is that this film blends action and fantasy . . . and he's a huge fantasy nerd. He grew up playing Dungeons & Dragons. So it's interesting to know the character he's playing in this movie was somewhat evocative of . . . a deeper passion of his.

Did you ever geek out on Dungeons & Dragons?

It passed me by. For some reason I never hung out with kids who played it.

Did Diesel teach you any fast moves? Did you maybe get out for a drive and learn to do doughnuts?

No. [A big laugh.] No . . . we didn't.

Aww, man, that was your big opportunity.

It kind of was. I missed it. But that car he drives in this film is pretty awesome.

Must be in his contract -- "awesome car required."

Yeah. The thing about my character -- it's his first day on the job, and he's got big shoes to fill, and the primary goal is giving Vin a new identity. Vin plays an 800-year-old man. You can't have the same identity for 800 years or people'll get suspicious. So here I am, talking about how he needs to keep a low profile and we turn the corner, I see the car -- and it's obviously an attention-grabber. I think I say something like, "At least it's not red."

Yes, the car, very Vin Diesel. But I'm curious, is there something about him we wouldn't expect?

Hmmm . . . good question. [He pauses.] He's a family man -- had his kids on set a lot. That's important to him. He loves to sing, loves music. But his fans probably know that about him. He's interesting -- I've never met anyone quite like him. We just went to Comic Con here in the city yesterday and did a panel. It's an extraordinary thing to watch, as people freak out for him. He's an action hero, a massive movie star in the classic sense of the word.

A crowd freaking out . . . a massive film franchise . . . you certainly know what that's like.

Yeah, like with the Tolkien films, knowing you're a part of this larger mythology. That's a special thing. And wild to be a part of. It's tough to live up to those expectations.

Now that Comic Con is over, hopefully you'll get a chance to enjoy what seems to be some nice fall weather coming our way before you return home to L.A.

Yes, I've spent time in New York over the years. And I shot a film on the North Fork of Long Island a few years ago -- in the fall going into winter -- called "The Romantics."

Oh, that's right, I remember that.

It was my first time out there. I'd always heard how beautiful the North and South Forks of Long Island are, but I'd never made it out that way. I got real comfortable with the Hampton Jitney. [He chuckles.]

It was cold, if I recall, and you had to shoot scenes in the water.

Ohhh! We had to get in the water with very little on. It was really intense. But I enjoyed being out there. It was beautiful, and kind of nice to be out there offseason, with nobody around.

I love a beach town offseason.

Yeah, the first time I went to Martha's Vineyard it was also offseason. There's that chill in the air, no one's around, endless beach. . . . It's just magic.


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