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Original Issue

Q+A Elijah Wood

In Hooligans, the actor, 24, plays a student who becomes immersed in the world of English soccer thugs.

SI: Won't people see you in this film and wonder what happened to lovable Frodo Baggins?

Wood: Which is definitely a good thing [laughs]. It's always good to change people's perceptions of who you are. To be able to play a character who becomes excited about fighting and gets sucked into that world was good.

SI: How are your fighting skills?

Wood: We worked with our fight trainer and fight choreographer nearly every day.

SI: Any soccer in your background?

Wood: I was first exposed to it during Lord of the Rings because a lot of the actors were English. I became a Manchester United fan by default because Dom [Rings costar Dominic Monaghan] is a huge Man U fan.

SI: This film is playing at the Tribeca Film Festival this week, but it doesn't have a domestic distribution deal. How's that going?

Wood: It's been doing well at festivals, and as a result we could get distribution before the end of the year. It's a good film, and it has an interesting story to tell.

SI: Your character falls in with supporters of West Ham United. You attended a game with them, right?

Wood: We went to a West Ham--Millwall game, which is sort of the centerpiece of the film. West Ham and Millwall have been rivals for years. We got to sit with the West Ham supporters, and there were more than 1,000 police officers waiting for something to kick off.

SI: What was it like being there?

Wood: There is something that completely grabs you. We soon found ourselves--because we were sitting in the West Ham supporters area--heckling the Millwall guys with great fervor. You get sucked into this very visceral and intense kind of madness. I've never been to a sporting event as exciting, or as on the edge of sanity, as that. --Richard Deitsch