Elijah Wood Talks New Ted Bundy Film, Reflects on 20 Years of 'Lord of the Rings' : 'I'm Really Proud'

The cast and crew of the fantasy trilogy has yet to be able to celebrate the 20-year mark in person, but Wood tells PEOPLE he hopes that they'll be able to reunite soon

Elijah Wood
Elijah Wood. Photo: Astrid Stawiarz/Getty

It's been over 20 years since Elijah Wood first set foot on the set of The Lord of the Rings, but the memories from those years spent bringing the world of J.R.R. Tolkien to life don't feel quite so distant.

While speaking with PEOPLE about his most recent film, Wood says it feels "surreal" to have hit such a milestone on a project that remains so close to his heart. "It makes me miss New Zealand. It makes me miss all the people involved," he adds.

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring began production in October 1999, just over two years before its release in December 2001. The trilogy earned nearly $3 billion at the box office, but the financial success of the films isn't what means the most to Wood.

"Those films had a massive impact on all of our lives," he explains. "It was the experience we had making them tucked away in New Zealand for the better part of four years, making some of the best friends of our lives. I'm really proud to be a part of it."

THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KING, Elijah Wood, 2003, (c) New Line/courtesy Everett Coll

The cast and crew of the beloved film series has yet to be able to celebrate the 20-year mark in person. Wood tells PEOPLE he hopes that they'll be able to reunite soon.

"I don't know if that will happen this year, but I definitely feel like there will be a gathering in the next year or so, which would be really lovely," he says.

In the meantime, Wood has been focused on telling a story that's not quite as distant as Middle Earth. His latest film, No Man of God, follows the final years of serial killer Ted Bundy's (Luke Kirby) life on death row as he confesses to at least 30 murders and details some of his most grisly killing sprees in conversations with FBI agent Bill Hagmaier (Wood).

Elijah Wood as Bill Hagmaier in 'No Man of God'
RLJE Films

The conversation's between Hagmaier and Bundy would help inform the Bureau's budding Behavioral Science Unit, which was formed in the 1970s to study the behaviors of violent criminals in order to catch those who were still on the loose.

"Our interest was piqued at the prospect of a part of Ted Bundy's life that hadn't really been explored before," Wood tells PEOPLE of the film, which he also produced through his Company X. "It represented a different approach to telling a story in the universe of Ted Bundy, when so much of what gets explored with Ted tends to be his actual exploits as a serial murderer or his trial. [This film] portrays Ted as someone who is out of options, who's not in control, who's actually quite vulnerable and is scrambling to stay alive. So, he doesn't really have his power anymore. He doesn't have a lot of cards left to play."

The narrative revolves around meetings between Bundy and Hagmaier in the depths of the Florida State Prison in the 1980s. It's there, where the murderer spent 9 years on death row, that Wood and Kirby had to dig deep into the psyche of their characters.

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"[It required] looking at each of those [scenes] from each character's perspective and just trying to find every tiny little detail that we could extract and home in on," Wood explains. "Every weekend Luke and I would get on Zoom and run through the next week's work so that we could help each other."

Luke Kirby as Ted Bundy and Elijah Wood as Bill Hagmaier in 'No Man of God'
RLJE Films

He adds, "On the day when we're in that room together, that's really the fun of it! It's like you've done all this preparation and thinking about how the scene is structured, and then it's having the space to play that out."

The cast and crew worked closely with Hagmaier — who serves as an executive producer on the film — to recreate those interactions. Not only did Hagmaier consult on the accuracy of the script, he also gave Wood and Kirby direct insight into their characters' thought processes and mannerisms.

"The only regret I have is that we made the movie last year under COVID compliance, so he couldn't come out to visit, and I wasn't able to go back east to sit down with him and spend time with him," Wood says.

Still, the former FBI agent "availed himself to everyone," Wood adds.

"[Director Amber Sealey] emailed him all the time about the tiniest detail, and he was so helpful. Luke spoke to him as well to gain insight into Ted," Wood continues. "My questions were like, 'What did it feel like to walk into that room the first time? What preparation did you take before going into that room?' "

And even after working with Hagmaier for a year, Wood still has so many questions left to ask.

"I do very much look forward to a time where I can sit down with him," he says. "He's a lovely human with incredible stories that extend way beyond simply Ted Bundy."

No Man of God is now in theaters and on demand and digital.

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