Like his fellow “Lord of the Rings” costars, Elijah Wood has the luxury of being picky. He could have settled for a string of neverending fantasy knockoffs. Instead, like Viggo Mortensen, he’s done what he wants. The last decade have seen him lending his presence to smaller and/or unusual fare: the first-person horror “Maniac”; “Open Windows,” set entirely on a desktop; the TV show “Wilfred,” in which he acts opposite a talking dog. Wood comes back to both big budgets and fantasy with “The Last Witch Hunter,” a super-sized Vin Diesel vehicle in which he plays the new priestly sidekick to the star’s immortal slayer of the supernatural. He didn’t take the job lightly.
What convinced you this was a worthy return to big budget genre fare?
It’s weird to even say this, because it wasn’t the case 20 years ago, but it was interesting to read something that was not based on a pre-existing source or was a sequel. It’s bizarre that we have to say one of a film’s merits is that it’s original. F—ing strange. But it is the case. So it was interesting to me that something was going to be made on this scale that was entirely original. And I was just surprised by the script. I found the mythology to be really detailed, the world-building to be really interesting.
I imagine, being in so many horror films lately, that director Breck Eisner’s previous film, “The Crazies,” was a big draw for you too.
I haven’t actually seen “The Crazies.” [Laughs] I’m embarrassed to say that.
Still, both that and this film are strong on visuals. The sets, for one, appear to be mostly real, as do many of the effects.
Some people are asking questions about what it was like to deal with the CG. In reality it was almost imperceptible to us — save for the witch bar where there was quite a bit of CG effects. But even there, there were a lot of practical effects. Most of the time we were surrounded by real things. Even the sentinel at the end, there was a sentinel there. There was a real thing that was ultimately embellished. A lot of the sets and environments we were in were real. That goes a long way to making you feel rooted in the space.
Is it typically for you to get so involved with looking at all aspects of a production?
These are all questions I ask, honestly. When I read something I want to know what the approach is, who’s going to shoot it, how it’s going to be shot, what is the visual tone of the film and what are the designs going to look like. I’m a nerd, so I always ask these questions.