Interview: Elijah Wood on trying to fake piano playing in ‘Grand Piano’

Elijah Wood plays a concert pianist under threat in "Grand Piano." Credit: Getty Images
Elijah Wood plays a concert pianist under threat in “Grand Piano.”
Credit: Getty Images

Elijah Wood has been having a lot fun in the indie horror and thriller world lately, playing a serial killer in last year’s “Maniac” and building buzz at Sundance this year as a teacher battling bloodthirsty elementary school kids in “Cooties.” In his latest, “Grand Piano,” Wood stars as a reclusive piano virtuoso who finds himself ordered by a hidden assassin (John Cusack) to play a perfect show or else.

It seems like it might be a stretch to say you’re a piano virtuoso, just due to the size of your hands.

Oh, I know, I know. [Laughs] I don’t have the hands, you’re absolutely right. I mean, I can do full octaves, for sure. It is not impossible for me, but it’s not easy. There’s one particular shot where the camera is [pointed] down at the keys, and those aren’t my hands.

But you do “play” the piano for a lot of the film. What was the process for that?

I took lessons for three weeks prior to going to Barcelona, and the learning curve was super-intense. I’d played when I was younger but certainly not to this level, and I hadn’t played in years. So effectively it was like kind of starting over again. It was really difficult, but also really fun. It’s fun to have a challenge that is that specific. I don’t play in life, but I am musical and I play around with instruments so I was endeared to it.

This is a pretty unique thriller.

There’s something absurd about it for sure, but in a great way. It was unlike anything I’d ever read before. It was incredibly audacious and ambitious and a little crazy, but the concept is also very simple. And I loved that 75 to 80 percent of the film is in real time, during this performance. There were puzzle pieces that had to then fit within the context of when the music starts and stops. It’s incredibly complicated. [Laughs]

You’ve been focusing on these very innovative, smaller genre films as of late.

I’m certainly a genre fan, but it hasn’t necessarily been a concerted effort on my part to work more in the genre space. It’s more incidental and more organic than that. There are more interesting ideas present within independent film and smaller films than there are in much larger films. I’m just looking for interesting experiences, and I’m excited by unique and interesting filmmakers, too. In some ways I think I’m often more motivated from a filmmaking perspective than I am specifically as an actor. I really just want to be a part of something that is creatively exciting.

Follow Ned Ehrbar on Twitter @nedrick



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Is #JusticeForAvaLynn a case of bullying?

On Saturday, the hashtag #JusticeForAvaLynn became one of the trending topics on Twitter. Users circulated the above photo of 5-year-old AvaLynn, posted by her mother…

International

Terrorism could spread to US and Europe in…

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah said terrorism would soon spread to Europe and the United States unless it is quickly dealt with in the Middle East,…

National

Ex-Bitcoin official to plead guilty to Silk Road…

Bitcoin entrepreneur Charlie Shrem has reached a plea deal to resolve U.S. charges that he engaged in a scheme to sell over $1 million of…

International

China's army changes tactics to prepare for war…

Chinese President Xi Jinping has said China will spur military innovation and called on the army to create a new strategy for "information warfare" as…

Gossip

Joan Rivers on life support: Report

TMZ reports that comedian Joan Rivers has been placed on life support, "completely reliant on machines to stay alive." Rivers has been hospitalized since she…

Movies

What's new on Netflix in September

September has a supernatural theme for Netflix. UFO "documentaries" and the survivalist reality series "Doomsday Preppers" are among the new series coming to the online…

Going Out

'Friends' coffeehouse Central Perk coming to NYC —…

"Friends" is coming back for a one-off special: "The One with the Free Coffee." Warner Bros. is bringing a pop-up replica of Central Perk, the…

Movies

Interview: 'As Above, So Below' directors: 5 ways…

The fraternal directors of the found footage horror "As Above, So Below" dish on the best ways to frighten the bejesus out of audiences.

NFL

3 things we learned in the Giants preseason…

The final score didn’t matter — a 16-13 win by the Giants — but it would’ve been nice to finally see Big Blue’s new-look offense get on track.

NFL

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots, 49ers start…

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots start at top

U.S. Soccer

5 facts about new England captain Wayne Rooney

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney was named as the new England captain by coach Roy Hodgson on Thursday.

NFL

Jets vs. Eagles: 3 things to watch

A win on Thursday night at the Eagles would give the Jets a 3-1 record and just their second winning preseason under head coach Rex Ryan.

Wellbeing

This Week in Health: Lesbians, men most likely…

Lesbians, men most likely to achieve orgasm Location: U.S. Study subjects: 2,850 people Results: Whether you find it shocking or not, a new study reports that…

Wellbeing

VIDEO: Still not wearing sunscreen? You will after…

Sunscreen is possibly the most often repeated - and ignored - piece of skincare advice. But Thomas Leveritt took a different tactic. With a short…

Food

Twitter used to track down sources of food…

When Chicago health officials saw Twitter users complaining about local food poisoning episodes, they reached out on Twitter to those users and often ended up…

Style

Trend: White hot on the 2014 Emmy's red…

White was one of the big trends on the Emmy's red carpet.